My wife is a citizen of Ukraine. She came over on a K-1 visa and we married. She had a 2 year green card and now has a 10 year green card. The question is this, how soon can she apply to become a US citizen?

I heard that it was 2 years, but have not found any documentation on this (at least nothing that is specific to this case and on a government website.)

  • 1
    To pick a technical nit, your title and body ask slightly different questions. To answer the question in the title, she can apply for a US passport as soon as she becomes a US citizen.
    – phoog
    Aug 25, 2016 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


I assume that since your wife entered on a K-1 visa, that you are a U.S. citizen. This makes a difference because the time limit is different in each case. Spouses of U.S. citizens can apply for naturalization once they have been lawful permanent residents and married to their spouses for three years:

The spouse of a ​U.S.​ citizen who resides in the ​United States​ may be eligible for naturalization on the basis of ​his or her ​marriage​.​ The spouse must ​have continuously resided in the ​United States​ after ​be​coming​ a​n LPR ​for at least three years immediately preceding the date of filing the naturalization application and must have lived in marital union with his or her citizen spouse for at least those three years.​

If this doesn't apply for whatever reason, then the general rule for naturalization of permanent residents applies, and she will have to wait five years instead:

An applicant must also reside continuously in the U​nited ​S​tates​ for at least five years as an LPR at the time of filing,​ though the applicant may file his or her application up to 90 days before ​reaching the five-year continuous residence period.​

  • Yes! Thank you! And yes, it was a K-1 visa.
    – gp443
    Aug 25, 2016 at 19:13
  • Yes, my wife and I were naturalized under the five year rule --- no other US citizens in the family, except our daughter.
    – Peter K.
    Aug 26, 2016 at 0:43
  • And she can submit the application 90 days before meeting the 3-year continuous residence requirement.
    – user102008
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:47

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