What is required to file for Naturalization in the U.S.?

A U.S. permanent resident may file for naturalization up to ninety days before the end of the five year or three-year residency period depending on the method the permanent resident obtained their status. U.S. permanent residents who are current members of the U.S. armed forces or within six months of separation may file for naturalization after serving honorably for a minimum of one full year.

The U.S. permanent resident must have continuous residence in the United States except for U.S. permanent residents who are current members of the U.S. armed forces. Members of the U.S. armed forces are exempted from the residency requirement. USCIS has defined residency as having an actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent.

This does not mean that the U.S. permanent resident is required to continuously live in the U.S. but absences of over a year is an automatic break in continuous residence. Absences of over six months but under a year raises a rebuttable presumptions of a break in continuous residence which has to be overcome. An absence of one year or more will not constitute an automatic break if the alien received an approved “Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purpose.”

Prior to filing the application, the naturalization applicant must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the five (or three) years of the required continuous residence except for U.S. government employees and certain religious workers stationed abroad. In addition, the applicant is required to have resided in the jurisdiction of a USCIS office for least three months prior to filing the application.

The applicant must show that they have had good moral character during the past five year or three year period of continuous residence. This means that the alien may be disqualified from naturalization if there has been any criminal charges brought against them. Probation, parole, pardon, expungement of the crime does not automatically erase the conviction.

The applicant must be able to demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak English through an U.S. history and government exam. There are exemptions to the English literacy requirement for persons who are over 50 years old and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for over 20 years or persons who are over 55 years old and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for over 15 years. These applicants can bring their own interpreter to the interview.

In addition to the above, there are multiple special classes of individuals who have exemptions to some of the requirements above. There are also certain classes of person who are barred from naturalizing. If there are any questions or concerns about your immigration case, please feel free to contact our office.

Watch our video about U.S. Visa Application in Thailand here.

Category: US Immigration

About the Author (Author Profile)

Mr. Robert R. Virasin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science, Mr. Virasin completed his Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston and a Masters of Laws (Business) from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Mr. Virasin is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is a licensed U.S. attorney with over 15 years of legal experience. Robert is a regular contributor and author of a number of immigration related articles.


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