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5 Residency Requirements for U.S. Naturalization

Posted by Gutierrez Law Firm on June 26, 2013

The U.S. immigration system allows foreign national residents to become naturalized citizens of the United States. Once a foreign national has met the naturalization requirements, they will enjoy all the benefits of citizenship except for serving as president. Expert immigration lawyers are accustomed to guiding foreign national residents through the naturalization process.

Residency Requirements for Naturalization

There are specific residency requirements that must be met for a person to qualify for citizenship:

  • Be a lawful permanent resident
  • Be a continuous resident of the United States for three or five years, depending on marital status
  • Be an actual resident of the United States for 18 or 30 months prior to submitting a naturalization application, depending on marital status
  • Be a continuous resident of no less than three months in the state where the naturalization application is submitted
  • Be a continuous resident of the United States since the application was submitted

In order to qualify as a citizen, an applicant must have resided in a specified dwelling or home located in the United States or one of its territories. The customary residency requirement for becoming a naturalized citizen is five years after becoming a legal permanent resident. The residency requirement is only three years if the applicant is married to a U.S. citizen. Foreign nationals who are married to U.S. citizens must also meet the following requirements:

  • Physically live with a citizen spouse for three years prior to taking a naturalization test
  • Spouse must be a citizen during the time between submitting an application and taking a naturalization examination

Legal Permanent Residency

Anyone who has a green card is regarded as a legal permanent resident (LPR). LPRs are entitled to live and work legally in the United States. Committing a serious crime can place a foreign national’s LPR status in jeopardy. A LPR will be required to produce a green card when they submit their naturalization application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Submitting a Naturalization Application

The laws and administrative procedures associated with submitting a successful naturalization application can be daunting. There are unique provisions that apply to LPRs who are married to U.S. citizens or who work outside the country during their period of continuous residence. Generally speaking, it is allowable to be outside the United States for up to six months at a time. An absence of more than six months but less than one year will require an acceptable explanation. It isn’t likely that anyone residing outside the United States for more than one year will qualify for naturalization.

To learn more about the residency requirements for naturalization, call 210.225.7114 to talk to an attorney from the Gutierrez Law Firm.