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Do I Need Spouse's Permission to Naturalize

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Do I need them permission of my spouse to naturalize. Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington, DC.

Man, I was on the phone yesterday and I was talking to one of my former clients. I had helped him with a lawsuit, and he had asked Haley to set up a meeting for me to talk to him about this other case. And we talked about the other case, and, man, it was a weird case. He wanted to know if someone could come to the United States to work as a farmer because he was a specialist in Moroccan vegetables. But I was like, "No, dude, that's not going to work." And then he said, "Hey, I have one other question for you." And he wanted to know, "Does my wife need my permission to apply for citizenship?"

And I was like, and it was sort of like a throwaway question as we got off the call, and it's like, "No, dude, she doesn't need your permission to apply for citizenship." But I thought, and, actually, as I was driving home that night, I was like, "Man, that's sort of a dickhead question to ask." Like my wife needs my permission to apply for citizenship.

But, whenever I get a question, I always want to shoot a video, because that's where my best videos come from, is from the questions from the people. I always love to hear from the people. So people, keep sending us your questions and we'll try to answer all of them.

But in this one, man, it's a weird question. It's sort of a little too controlly, a little too, Sleeping With the Enemy. A little too, "Hey, I'm in charge of you. You're my property. And I'll let you know when you can naturalize."

So I really didn't like the question, the more and more that it sat with me. And I probably need to tell Haley about that because that was such a weird interaction, but instead I'm telling you. And the good news is you don't need your spouse's permission to naturalize. So let's walk through a typical case.

Let's say that somebody gets a marriage-based green card, and it's a two year green card, and at the end of the two years, they file an I-751. So now we have this foreign spouse who has received their two year green card and they're heading towards their 10-year green card, so they apply for the 751, and the US citizen sponsors them for that. Well, in most cases, the US citizen does file the I-751, but the good news is that for naturalization, you don't need the permission of your spouse. You don't need your spouse to sign the N-400. I'm getting mad just thinking about it all over again.

Now, where some of that confusion might come from though is, that you do need your spouse to file the I-751, the Petition to Remove the Conditions, to get you that 10-year Green Card, which is what you need to do before you naturalize. Now, there are situations, and we have a lot of them here in the office, where someone can apply for an I-751 Removal of Conditions without their spouse. If they'd been the victim of a domestic abuse, or if it's just a good faith marriage that didn't go well, or if there are other humanitarian reasons, you can get a 751 approved without your spouse.

So, obviously you need your spouse for that first I-130, but you can get a 751 approved without that, and then if you're on that track, if you, let's say you've gotten divorced before your 751 is due and you file that as a solo, then you can apply for citizenship, but you're going to have to wait for the full five years. You can't apply on the three-year rule.

So, you would still to be married to apply under the three-year rule, but you don't need your spouse's permission, you just need to still be married. So, I hope this answers the question. If there's any spouses whose husbands or wives are lording their immigration status over them, you give us a call, because you have options and we don't have to put up with that crap from US citizens who like to boss their immigrant spouses around.

We don't go for that around here, and we do everything we can to help the immigrant in that situation. We're not going to help the citizen, because that's not fair. It's not cool, and we're always going to be on the side of helping the immigrant get their immigration benefit. Hope that makes sense.

If you have questions, give us a call 314-961-8200, email us [email protected]. Join us, Facebook group. It's called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you there and sign up YouTube channel. We have over 32,000 subscribers, I think, right now, and we'd love to have one more.

We'd love to have you share our videos every single day. We post them, usually around 11:00, if my son is on top of things, editing the videos properly. And then, of course, we have our YouTube live show Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon central. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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