Do I get United States citizenship if I marry a citizen?

Do I get citizenship if I marry a United States citizen?Marrying a United States citizen does not make you a citizen automatically, but it could provide you with a path to becoming a permanent resident and then eventually a citizen.

United States Citizenship Through Marriage

The first step on your path to becoming a citizen will likely be for your spouse to help you with becoming a permanent resident. If you qualify, your US citizen spouse may be able to help you get a green card which would be the first step to becoming a citizen. After you have been a permanent resident for three years, you would then be eligible to apply for citizenship if you meet certain requirements, including still being married to your spouse. If you aren’t still married to your spouse, you may need to wait longer to apply for citizenship.

The First Step – Becoming a Permanent Resident

If you are currently in the United States and you originally lawfully entered the United States, your spouse may be able to assist you with getting a green card through the adjustment of status process. The adjustment of status process is a way that you can get your green card while you are still in the United States. You would not need to return to your home country for an interview at the embassy.

If you are currently in the United States and you did not originally lawfully enter the United States, you likely won’t be eligible for adjustment of status (but there are some exceptions to this rule). You should have an immigration lawyer review your case with you before you file an adjustment of status application. If you are not eligible for adjustment of status, you may be able to return to your home country and seek an immigrant visa so that you can return to the United States as a permanent resident. This option may require that you obtain a waiver and you should check with an immigration lawyer to help you decide what option would be best for you.

If you are outside the United States, your spouse can file a petition to request that you be given an immigrant visa. If this petition is approved, you will then be able to apply for an immigrant visa. If all goes well with the immigrant visa application process, you will be given an immigrant visa. You will become a permanent resident when you enter the United States using your visa.

Will an immigration waiver be needed?

All of the above options require that you not be subject to any of the grounds of inadmissibility. If you are inadmissible, you may need a waiver to be eligible to adjust status to permanent resident or to get an immigrant visa.

About Kimberley Schaefer

Kimberley Schaefer is an immigration lawyer with offices in Boise, ID and Rexburg, Idaho. She helps future Americans become citizens by assisting them with immigrant visas, fiance visas, adjustment of status and green card applications, applying for immigration waivers, fighting deportation and applying for asylum. To contact her, you can call (208) 918-0852 or send Kimberley an email now.


  1. This is actually a very interesting question that this article poses. That is because several years ago, someone whom I had just met, and who was not a U.S. citizen, but who had originally came to the United States on a student Visa (which had expired), propositioned me into a marriage in exchange for money so that I could assist with helping that person attain U.S. citizenship. I never did go through with it. But I’ve been curious if it would have worked.

  2. Freedom, personal liberty, is the most precious thing on earth. It’s also one of the rarest – hence, its great value. People who manage to get to America, despite mountainous problems and miles of red tape, often find themselves free for the first time in their lives. It’s a joyous, wonderful experience for them. And in this newfound freedom, they set to work to find a place for themselves; More often than not, they work harder than Americans.

  3. Linda Haynes says

    I have a friend who doesn’t want to bother with the immigrant visa process and wants his wife to just use her tourist visa to come to the United States so that they can do the adjustment of status paperwork. Can they do this or is the immigrant visa really required?

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