The Naturalization Process and Exceptions to the Residency Requirements
Lawful permanent residents may apply for naturalization provided they meet certain eligibility requirements. Naturalization is the process of becoming a United States citizen. To be eligible for naturalization, the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that applicants must meet certain residency requirements. The Act requires applicants to reside in the United States continuously as lawful permanent residents for a period of five years immediately preceding their application for naturalization. 8 U.S.C.A. § 1427(a).
The residency requirement requires applicants to be physically present in the U.S. for a period totaling “at least half the time.” Presence for “at least half the time” means an applicant may not be absent from the United States for more than six months but less than one year during the period for which continuous residence is required. 8 U.S.C.A. § 1427(b). An absence of more than six months breaks the requirement of continuity and creates a presumption that an applicant has abandoned their residence, which the applicant must rebut.
The Act does provide employment-based exceptions to the residency requirement for purposes of naturalization. The Act provides exceptions for individuals who have been physically present in the United States as lawful permanent residents for an uninterrupted period of at least one year who subsequently become employed by:
- The United States Government or an American Institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
- An American firm or corporation
- A public international organization of which the U.S. is a member by treaty or statute and by which the foreign national was not employed until after being admitted for permanent residence.
To be eligible for this exception, the applicant must establish that purpose of residence abroad was employment for the government or American firm. Applicants must also show that they possess good moral character during the entire residence period. There is no waiver for the good moral character requirement.
For assistance with obtaining United States Naturalization, consult with immigration law firm, Beach-Oswald Immigration Law Associates, PC, Washington, DC immigration attorneys. Our law firm is devoted exclusively to immigration law. Click here to schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney.