There are “special requirements” for naturalization of certain classes of persons, such as members of the armed forces, U.S. government employees, and Filipino war veterans. The most important special class are the spouses of U.S. citizens.
A spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible for naturalization if he/she meets all the above requirements except that:
the required length of continuous residence is shortened to three years;
the minimum physical presence requirement consequently becomes eighteen months rather than thirty.
This special treatment is accorded since Congress believed that such persons, living in close proximity to a U.S. citizen, are ordinarily assimilated into our society more quickly.
In order to qualify for this special treatment the following conditions must be satisfied:
- the marriage must have occurred more than three years ago;
- the spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the entire three years;
- the parties must have been living in “marital union” throughout.
It is not necessary that the applicant have acquired LPR status on the basis of the marriage. He/she may have been granted LPR status based upon an employment-based visa petition, and later married a U.S. citizen. Three years after the marriage, or five years after becoming an LPR, whichever comes first, he/she may apply for citizenship.