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Prior to acquiring American citizenship, you must have a green card for a certain length of time.
When a Canadian obtains permanent residency through marriage to a U.S. citizen, he/she can apply for naturalization three (3) years after becoming a permanent resident.
When a Canadian citizen obtained permanent residency through employment or through a family member, he/she can apply for naturalization five (5) years after becoming a permanent resident.
If you were born in Canada but you have a U.S. citizen parent, you may also qualify for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
A permanent residency status does not suffice in its own; you must also satisfy a continuous residence requirement; that is, having physically reside within the U.S. for a period of time prior to applying for citizenship.
For green cards through marriage, the Canadian citizen must have been physically present 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 family, the Canadian citizen must have been physically present 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.
Generally, you should not leave the U.S. for a continuous period of more than six months for you risk breaking you continuous residence time unless you can demonstrate that you continue to work, reside, pay taxes and have ties to the U.S.
If you plan to leave the U.S. for a year, but to return afterwards, it is recommended that you apply for a re-entry permit prior to your departure. This will show your intention to return to the U.S. and that you do not plan to abandon your permanent residency status.
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 seeking U.S. citizenship.
Applicants must also demonstrate :