Naturalization - Residency Requirements
While there are a number of substantive requirements for naturalization, the most complex of these is residence in the
What is meant by “residence” in the naturalization requirements?
Residence is defined as a person’s place of general abode. In other words, the place a person makes “their principle, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent.”
In general, what are the physical requirements for naturalization?
As a general rule, an applicant for naturalization must have been a permanent resident of the
Is an applicant required to physically reside in the
During the three months preceding the application, the person must have resided in the USCIS district where the application will be filed. Between the filing of the naturalization application and the granting of citizenship, the applicant must continue to reside in the
Is there a residence requirement after the applicant has submitted an application for citizenship?
After filing the naturalization application, the applicant must continue to reside in the
Will an applicant be denied naturalization if absent for 6 months to a year from the
Simply being absent from the US during brief periods, even for six months up to a year in the five years prior to a citizenship application, does not terminate the period of physical presence. However, such absences need to be dealt with carefully. They are presumed to break the period of continuous residence if they last over six months, but this presumption can be overcome by demonstrating that the applicant did not abandon the
Absences of more than one year will terminate continuous residence unless the applicant complies with the certain requirements. First, the applicant must have been physically present in the
Before the one-year period outside the
What absences will be considered as “constructive presence” in the
The only exception to this requirement is for time outside of the
In which cases are the residence requirements waived?
Residence requirements are waived if an applicant is the spouse of a
• A member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
• An employee or an individual under contract to the U.S. Government;
• An employee of an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General;
• An employee of an American-owned firm or corporation engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce for the
• An employee of a public international organization of which the
• A person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the
The citizen spouse is working overseas for at least 1 year according to an employment contract or order, then the residency requirements are actually waived.
Which residence requirements apply when a spouse of a
As previously mentioned, under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, spouses of US citizens who are employed abroad also benefit from an expedited naturalization process. The
The regulations specify that the citizen spouse’s employment abroad must be for a period of at least one year, but if this requirement is met, the naturalization application can be filed before the employment abroad begins. Also, there is no minimum required residence in the
I’ve heard that Congress is considering changes in the residency requirements. What can you tell me about that?
The US Senate is currently debating a comprehensive immigration reform package that contains a provision which would drop the residency requirement from five years to four years for those who demonstrate fluency in English (as opposed to basic knowledge of English necessary to pass the current English test administered as part of the naturalization process).
Gregory Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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