U.S. Citizenship for Canadians

Generally, Canadian citizens cannot just apply for U.S. citizenship. Instead, Canadians usually have to be a permanent resident (green card holder) and reside in the United States for a certain period of time before they are eligible to naturalize. Learn more about getting a green card.

Naturalizing Based on Marriage to a U.S. Citizen

If a Canadian citizen obtained permanent residency through marriage to a U.S. citizen, they can apply for naturalization three (3) years after the date they were approved for their green card. For example, if you received your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen on January 1, 2019, you are eligible to naturalize on January 1, 2022. You are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the three year anniversary.

Naturalizing Based on Green Card Through a Family Member

If a Canadian citizen obtained permanent residency through sponsorship by a family member other than a U.S. citizen spouse, such as a U.S. citizen parent, sibling, or child, they can apply for naturalization five (5) years after the date they were approved for their green card. For example, if you received your green card through a family member on January 1, 2019, you are eligible to naturalize on January 1, 2024. Again, you are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the five year anniversary.

Naturalizing Based on Green Card Through Employment

If a Canadian citizen became a permanent resident through employment, such as an EB-2 or EB-3 green card, they can apply for naturalization five (5) years after first receiving the green card. For example, if you received your green card through an employer on June 1, 2019, you are eligible to naturalize on June 1, 2024. As with naturalizing based on marriage, you are allowed to submit your naturalization application 90 days before the five year anniversary.

Continuous residence requirement

In addition to being a permanent resident for three or five years, you must also meet a continuous residence requirement. This means that you have to physically reside in the U.S. for a certain period of time in the years prior to applying for citizenship.

For green cards through marriage to a U.S. citizen, the Canadian citizen must have been physically residing in the U.S. for at least 18 months (1.5 years) of the 3 years prior to applying for citizenship while on a green card.

For green cards through employment or other family members, the Canadian citizen must have been physically residing in the U.S. for at least 30 months (2.5 years) of the 5 years prior to applying for citizenship while on a green card.

To prevent your green card from being considered abandoned, and to qualify for naturalization, Canadians should not remain outside of the U.S. for a continuous period of more than six months in a row. Doing so may break your continuous residence time unless you can demonstrate that you continue to work, reside, pay taxes and have ties to the U.S.

If you remain outside of the U.S. for a continuous period of one year or more, you may be considered to have abandoned your green card and as a result, you may lose your accumulated continuous residence time. If a Canadian citizen plans to remain outside of the U.S. for a year but intend to return, you should look to apply for a re-entry permit prior to your departure. This will show USCIS or CBP that you intend to return and that you do not intend to abandon your green card.

In addition to the physical presence requirement, Canadian citizens must also reside in the state or district from which they are applying for at least three months before apply for U.S. citizenship. Applicants must also demonstrate good moral character, a good understanding of the English language, and a loyalty to support and to defend the U.S. Constitution.