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Naturalization Residency Requirements

Naturalization is the process whereby a foreign national is granted US citizenship after the requirements set by congress in the immigration and Nationality Act are fulfilled. U.S. citizenship offers several rights and advantages including the right to vote, access to certain federal jobs and the option to run for and hold public office positions. Under immigration law in San Diego, a foreign citizen must file an N-400 form in order to apply for naturalization. While the process of naturalization varies depending on the individual situation of each applicant, there are basic continuous and physical residency requirements that all applicants must meet.

To meet requirements of continuous residency, an applicant must have resided and maintained a permanent residency within the United States for five years before applying. The residency requirement is reduced to three years if the applicant is married to a qualified US citizen. During the residency period, applicants do have the ability to travel outside of the United States. However, absences of more than six months and less than one year may disrupt and void an applicant’s continuous residence unless employment, family, and home address in the United States can be proven. Applicants must also prove they have not obtained employment outside of the United States, during their absence.

To prove physical presence, applicants are required to show they have maintained their permanent residence for at least 30 months of the five year period stated under continuous residency. When applying under marriage to a qualified US citizen, physical presence of 18 months of the three year period is required. Additionally, in the three months immediately prior to the submission of the N-400 application for naturalization, the applicant must prove residency in the district or state where the application is filed.

Foreign citizens who are unable to prove continuous and physical residency requirements are unable to apply for US citizenship unless the following exceptions can be proven:

  • Employment by the United States government, including military
  • Employment by a recognized American research institution
  • An organization designed under the International Immunities Act
  • Employment by a public international organization
  • Contractors of the United States government

In addition to residency requirements, applicants must also be able to read, write and speak basic English, have a basic understanding of United States history and government, and must have good moral character and attachment to the principles of the United States Constitution to be eligible. For more information about the process, residency or other requirements necessary for naturalization, visit our website at www.ksvisalaw.com.

August 2017
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