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Immigration Law
Naturalization-Three Years Residence
Browse: 2864       Date:12-28-2011     

Generally, certain lawful permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen may file for N-400 naturalization based on the marriage after residing continuously in the United States for three years preceding the filing of the application. The naturalization application can be filed up to three months before the applicant has met the three-year continuous residence requirement.

1. Qualifications
(1). Married to a U.S. citizen
(2). At least 18 years old;
(3). Resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years after lawful admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident;
(4). Has been physically presented in the U.S. accumulatively for eighty months within three years;
(5). The U.S. citizen spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the last three years;
(6). Have been married to and living with the same U.S. citizen for the last three years;
(7). Ability to read, write and speak ordinary English;
(8). Knowledge and understanding of the Fundamentals of U.S. History and Government; and
(9). Good moral character; and
(10). Comply with the Principles of the U.S. Constitution

2. Procedure
(1). Prepare Naturalization Filing Materials (Form N-400, Application Letter and Supporting Documents) and file them to the USCIS
(2). Receive I-797 Receipt Notice
(3). Receives Biometric (fingerprint ) Appointment Letter
(4). Get your fingerprint taken at the appointed ASC
(5). Background Check
(6). Additional evidence is requested and then filed
(7). Attend Naturalization Interview
(8). Application approved
(9). Receive N-445 Notice to Oath Ceremony
(10). Receive Certificate of Naturalization

3. Filing Material
Application Letter, Application Form, Filing Fee and Supporting Documents such as Proof of the applicant’s three-year residence in U.S, Birth certificate of the child (ren), Proof of financial support to spouse or children, Marriage certificate with current spouse, Proof of termination of all prior marriage of both the applicant and spouse, Proof of three years of Citizenship of the applicant’s spouse, Proof of bona fide marriage with current spouse and so on.

For detailed filing material, please click the supporting documents link on our website

4. Warnings
(1). If the U.S. Citizen spouse died after the application was approved but before the oath ceremony, the application will be removed;
(2). The special three-year residence provision applicable to spouse of US citizens applies only if the coupled has been living in “marital union” during the three-year period. A legal divorce or legal separation will generally be understood as terminating a marital union. In addition, even an informal separation may be sufficient to trigger the dissolution of the “marital union”. Most naturalization examiners have interpreted the term “living in marital union” to actually residing together;
(3). For male applicants, check that whether you have registered with selective service before you turned 27-year old as a permanent resident;
(4). Applicants who are exempt from English test based on age and residence still have to take the test of knowledge of US history and governments.

5. Relevant FAQs
(1). How long can I leave the United States without interrupting my continuous residence?
A. Absences of 6 Months but Less than 1 Year
If you are outside of the U.S. for 6 months or more you have interrupted your continuous residence. However, if you were out of the country for less than one year you may be able to maintain your continuous residence status if you can demonstrate (with evidence) that you continued to live, work and/or keep close ties to the United States. Such evidence may include An IRS tax return "transcript"; IRS-certified tax return listing tax information for the last 3 years if you are applying on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen; Rent or mortgage payments and pay stubs.

B. Absences of 1 Year or Longer
In almost all cases, if you leave the U.S. for 1 year or more, you have disrupted your "continuous residence." This is true even if you have a Re-entry Permit. If you leave the country for 1 year or longer, you may be eligible to re-enter as a Permanent Resident if you have a Re-entry Permit but none of the time you were in the U.S. before you left the country counts toward your time in "continuous residence." Fortunately, if you return within 2 years, some of your time out of the country does count. In fact, the last 364 days of your time out of the country (1 year minus 1 day) counts toward meeting your "continuous residence" requirement.
There are a few small groups of applicants who do not have any "continuous residence" requirement (for example, members of the U.S. Armed Forces). There are also a few small groups of people who can leave the country for over 1 year and not disrupt their "continuous residence". To maintain the "continuous residence" while out of the country, these people must file an application to preserve residence for naturalization purposes -Form N-470. Individuals can use this form if they are a permanent resident who must leave the U.S. for certain employment purposes and they wish to preserve their status.

(2). I am under I-751 process to remove condition on my residence and, in March, my 3 year residency expires. Can I still file N-400 even though I have no answer yet from the INS about my removal of condition?

Assuming you are still married to your US citizen spouse and still living together and that your spouse has been a citizen for the past 3 years, you have established the 3 year residency requirement which enables you to apply for naturalization. However, INS will not approve your naturalization until the I-751 is approved. You may file, but there may be a delay.

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