Are you considering applying for expeditious naturalization as the spouse of a U.S. citizen employed abroad by a U.S. company, the U.S. government, an international organization, a research institution, or a religious organization? Chodorow Law Offices can help:
- Use the Eligibility Screening Tool to see if you may be eligible.
- Read the below Guide to learn about the special requirements for expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Don’t forget to learn about the basic requirements and procedures for naturalization.
- Let us help you: Schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer in person, by phone, or by video conference.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. General Requirements for Naturalization
- 3. Overview of the Requirements for Expeditious Naturalization
- 4. Types of Employment
- 4.1 Employment by an American Firm or Corporation, or Its Subsidiary
- 4.2 Engaged in the Development of U.S. Foreign Trade or Commerce
- 4.3 Public International Organizations
- 4.4 American Institutions of Research
- 4.5 Religious Denomination or Interdenominational Mission Organization Having a Bona Fide Organization within the U.S.
- 5. Other Requirements
- 6. Conclusion
This Guide covers the requirements and procedures for spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad to apply for expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The main benefit of expeditious naturalization is that the applicant is exempt from the normal requirements that he or she (a) continuously reside in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for 3 or 5 years immediately prior to filing the naturalization application; and (b) be physically present in the U.S. for one half of that time.
For couples living abroad, it is possible to apply for LPR status and then expeditious naturalization all without living in the United States. As part of the LPR application process, the petitioning U.S. citizen spouse must normally file a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. It is true that one requirement for the Form I-864 is that the petitioner must be “domiciled” in the United States. However, under federal regulations, a U.S. citizen living abroad temporarily counts as “domiciled” in the United States if his or her employment “meets the requirements of section 319(b)(1) of the Act.” Those are the same employment-related requirements needed for purposes of expeditious naturalization.
For couples seeking to continue to live abroad, another benefit of expeditious naturalization is that once an LPR is naturalized there is no longer a risk that LPR status will be considered abandoned due to living abroad on a non-temporary basis.
Expeditious naturalization applicants can file the naturalization application while abroad, can choose whether to be fingerprinted either in the United States or abroad, and can choose to be interviewed in any domestic USCIS field office. If biometrics are required, they can be taken at any willing USCIS office, Embassy, or Consulate abroad. Some offices allow the applicant to choose the date of their interview. Some offices will schedule the oath ceremony the same day or the day after the naturalization interview. So, for couples residing abroad the application may only require a single trip to the United States.
1.1 The Underlying Public Policy
Normally, spending too much time abroad can put a lawful permanent resident (LPR) at risk of losing eligibility for naturalization. The public policy behind the normal residence requirement for naturalization is to is to encourage the applicant to learn English, to become familiar with U.S. customs and institutions, to shed foreign attachments, to acquire attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and government, to demonstrate law-abiding conduct, and to prove fitness to be accepted as a citizen of the U.S.
However, there is a countervailing public policy that favors allowing individuals to reside abroad with their U.S. citizen spouses who work in specific capacities (employment for the U.S. government, for American firms and corporation and their subsidiaries that develop U.S. trade and commerce, for American institutions of research and public international organizations, and as a minister, priest, or missionary). In certain cases, such individuals are eligible for expeditious naturalization.
Addressing a related statute, section 316(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which preserves residence for purposes of naturalization for spouses of U.S. citizens working abroad in capacities similar to those specified in 319(b), a presidential commission explained the public policy behind the statute this way:
Representatives of Coca-Cola Export Corp. and International General Electric have pointed out to the Commission that … [i]n their overseas operations American institutions of research and business concerns frequently employ aliens who reside in the United States. It is to the advantage of such organizations, to the aliens, and to the Government of the United States to permit such aliens to become citizens [even if] the nature of their employment often requires such aliens to remain away from the United States for long periods of times.
1.2 Scope of this Article
Related topics not covered in this article include:
- Naturalization in General: This article focuses just on eligibility for expeditious naturalization benefits. For an overview of naturalization in general and a discussion of naturalization procedures (including in expeditious naturalization cases, see our firm’s Guide to Naturalization in the United States.
- Abandonment of LPR Status: What steps should LPRs staying abroad for extended periods take to protect themselves against losing their green cards due to “abandonment”? In short, LPR status confers the right to “reside” in the U.S., but that can be taken away by the government if an LPR makes a trip or series of trips abroad which are not “temporary.” For more on this topic see our article, Green Card Holders Who Stay Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment.
- Form N-470, Application to Preserve Permanent Residence for Naturalization Purposes: For an LPR employed abroad by certain U.S. employers or public international organizations, or performing certain ministerial or priestly functions, absence will not break the required continuity of residence for naturalization if the applicant has an approved Form N-470. The applicant’s spouse and dependent unmarried children residing abroad with the applicant may be eligible for the same benefits, except in the case of the family members of persons covered by the religious duties provision. There are limitations, however. First, most applicants are required to have completed one year continuous physical presence in the U.S. as an LPR before filing the N-470. Second, an approved N-470 does not relieve a naturalization applicant of the requirement of U.S. physical presence during half the continuous residence period, except in the case of (a) a naturalization applicant employed by, or contracted to work for, the U.S. government abroad is relieved of the requirement; or (b) an applicant who falls within the religious duties provision is relieved of the physical presence requirement.
- Expeditious naturalization provisions for persons employed by Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, or another “bona fide U.S. incorporated nonprofit organization which is principally engaged in conducting dissemination of information abroad through communications media which significantly promotes U.S. interests abroad and which is recognized as such by the Attorney General.”
- Expeditious naturalization for members of the military and their families.
2. General Requirements for Naturalization
Generally speaking, to be eligible for naturalization, an applicant must:
- be at least 18 years old;
- be an LPR;
- be of good moral character, attached to the constitution, and be favorably disposed toward the good order and happiness of the U.S. (As a practical matter, for purposes of expeditious naturalization, USCIS requires good moral character for at least 3 years prior to filing the naturalization application and until the time of naturalization.)
- pass a test of English language, history, and U.S. government; and
- meet the residence and physical presence-related requirements, from which expeditious naturalization applicants are exempt, and which include but are not limited to:
- continuously residing in the U.S., after being admitted for LPR status, for the five years (or three years in the case of an applicant who has been married to and living in marital union with a U.S. citizen) immediately preceding the date of filing application for naturalization as well as between the date of applying for naturalization and the date that citizenship is granted;
A more detailed analysis of the residence and physical presence-related requirements is included in our firm’s our Guide to Naturalization in the United States, https://lawandborder.com/guide-naturalization-united-states/.
3. Overview of the Requirements for Expeditious Naturalization
Expeditious naturalization benefits are available to a person who meets the general requirements for naturalization, described in Part 2, if in addition:
- The applicant is a lawful permanent resident at the time the naturalization application is filed and at the time of the naturalization interview. This includes conditional residents.
- The applicant is married to a U.S. citizen at the time of filing for naturalization.
- The citizen is employed by one of the following:
- “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States, or a subsidiary thereof”;
- the U.S. Government;
- an American institution of research “recognized as such by the Attorney General”;
- a public international organization “in which the U.S. participates by treaty or statute”; or
- a religious denomination or an interdenominational mission organization having a bona fide organization within the U.S.
- The U.S. citizen spouse is “regularly stationed abroad” in such employment.
- The applicant is in the United States at the time of the naturalization interview and oath ceremony. (You need not be in the United States at the time of filing the naturalization application.)
- The applicant will depart the U.S. to live abroad with the citizen spouse not later than 45 days after the date of naturalization. And
- The applicant declares in good faith an intention to take up residence within the United States immediately following the termination of such employment abroad of the citizen spouse.
Some of these requirements deserve further discussion in the next part of this article.
4. Types of Employment
Further explanation is needed of some of the types of employment covered by section 319(b).
4.1 Employment by an American Firm or Corporation, or Its Subsidiary
American Firm or Corporation
The term “American firm or corporation,” as used in INA § 319(b), means a company established in the United States and owned more than 50% by U.S. citizens. More specifically:
- Publicly-traded corporation: A publicly traded corporation is considered to be an “American firm or corporation” if the applicant can demonstrate that the corporation is incorporated in the U.S. and trades its stock exclusively on the U.S. stock exchange. The corporation’s most recent annual report is usually enough to prove this.
- Privately-held firm or corporation: Evidence that the employer is a qualifying American firm or corporation may include: copies of the business’ articles of incorporation, evidence of ownership including copies of stock certificates and ledgers, and proof of the shareholders’ nationality.
- Partnership: For a partnership to qualify as an “American firm,” 51% of the partners must be of U.S. nationality.
- Sole proprietorship: It is unclear whether a sole proprietorship (as opposed to a legal entity, such as a corporation, legally separate from the owner) counts as an “American firm.” There is at least one INS memorandum implying that the answer is yes. On the other hand, there is at least one federal district court case holding that a the answer is no. (Also, see the discussion of owner-workers below).
- Nonprofit corporation: The statute doesn’t limit the term “American firm or corporation” to for-profit entities. The legacy INS has recognized that nonprofits incorporated in the U.S. qualify.
Subsidiary of an American Firm or Corporation
To qualify as the “subsidiary” of an American firm or corporation, over fifty percent of the subsidiary’s stock must be owned by the American firm or corporation.
When there is a chain of subsidiaries, the nationality of each subsidiary depends on the nationality of the next higher subsidiary in the chain.
In this example:
- Acme Inc. is a U.S. corporation because it is established in Delaware and 62.5% of the shares are ultimately held by U.S. citizens (50% by Alan and 12.5% by Doug).
- Acme BVI Inc. is the “subsidiary” of an “American” corporation because 60% of its shares are held by Acme Inc., an American corporation.
- Acme China Co. Ltd. is not the “subsidiary” of an American corporation because only 42% (i.e., 70% of 60%) of its shares can trace their ultimate ownership to the American corporation, Acme Inc.
Note that INA § 319(b)(1)(C) requires that any citizen applying for expeditious naturalization must be “regularly stationed abroad in such employment,” where “such” refers back to the various types of work specified in the statute.
Part-time employment will not qualify unless the individual “devotes a substantial portion” of his time to the employment.
Independent contractors may not qualify. Matter of M-J-, 8 I. & N. Dec. 520 (Ass’t Comm’r 1960), is a precedent case binding on USCIS. It holds that study abroad qualified as employment for purposes of a related statute, INA § 316(b), where a student received a stipend from the Public Health Service to get cardiovascular research training at Cambridge University. The decision relies on Webster’s New International unabridged dictionary, which the time defined “employment” as “that which engages or occupies; that which consumes time or attention; also, an occupation, profession, or trade; service; as agricultural employments.” The decision also cities to Black’s Law Dictionary, which defined “employment” in the following terms: “The act of hiring, implying a request and a contract for compensation….” These broad definitions do not necessarily imply the existence of an employer-employee or master-servant relationship. So, an independent contractor should count as employed under § 319(b).
However, in one instance, the USICS Washington Field Office has ignored Matter of M-J-, instead asserting that “employment” should be defined consistently with the term “employee” under the common law, which excludes independent contractors. A conservative approach in applying for expeditious naturalization would be to fashion the employer-employee relationship consistent with the common law. The common law defined an “employee” as one whom the entity has a right to control as to when, where, and how work is done, considering the following factors (with no single factor being decisive) :
- Does the entity supervise the beneficiary and is such supervision off-site or on-site?
- If the supervision is off-site, how does the entity maintain such supervision, i.e. weekly calls, reporting back to main office routinely, or site visits by the entity?
- Does the entity have the right to control the work of the beneficiary on a day-to-day basis if such control is required?
- Does the entity provide the tools or instrumentalities needed for the beneficiary to perform the duties of employment?
- Does the entity hire, pay, and have the ability to fire the beneficiary?
- Does the entity evaluate the work-product of the beneficiary, i.e. progress/performance reviews?
- Does the entity claim the beneficiary as an employee for tax purposes?
- Does the entity provide the beneficiary any type of employee benefits?
- Does the beneficiary use proprietary information of the entity in order to perform the duties of employment?
- Does the beneficiary produce an end-product that is directly linked to the entity’s line of business?
- Does the entity have the ability to control the manner and means in which the work product of the beneficiary is accomplished?
Owner-Workers May Not Qualify. Under the Matter of M-J- definition of employment, an owner-work may well qualify for expeditious naturalization under § 319(b). However, as mentioned above, in one instance, the USICS Washington Field Office ignored that definition of “employment,” instead asserting that “employment” should be defined consistently with the term “employee” under the common law. Under the common law, an owner who operates independently without being subject to the entity’s control is not an employee. In addition to the above-listed factors for determining whether the individual is an employee versus independent contractor, the following factors should be analyzed for owner-workers:
- Whether the organization can hire or fire the individual or set the rules and regulations of the individual’s work.
- Whether and, if so, to what extent the organization supervises the individual’s work.
- Whether the individual reports to someone higher in the organization.
- Whether and, if so, to what extent the individual is able to influence the organization.
- Whether the parties intended that the individual be an employee, as expressed in written agreements or contracts.
- Whether the individual shares in the profits, losses, and liabilities of the organization.
Therefore, a conservative approach in an expeditious naturalization case would be to fashion the employer-employee relationship consistent with the common law.
4.2 Engaged in the Development of U.S. Foreign Trade or Commerce
The American firm or corporation must be engaged in whole or in part in the development of U.S. foreign trade or commerce. Unlike the requirements for an N-470, the employee need not personally be engaged in foreign trade or commerce or protection of the firm or corporation’s property rights.
There is some authority—an unpublished decision of the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office—that a company that has overseas operations only but not U.S. operations (only a “paper business” in the U.S.) is not engaged in the development of U.S. trade and commerce.
The term “trade” should be “construed broadly” and “liberally.” Trade means
the exchange, purchase, or sale of goods and/or services. Goods are tangible commodities or merchandise having intrinsic value. Services are economic activities whose outputs are other than tangible goods. Such service activities include, but are not limited to, banking, insurance, transportation, communications and data processing, advertising, accounting, design and engineering, management consulting, tourism, and technology transfer.
The term “commerce” has been defined as “the exchange of goods, productions, or property of any kind; especially, exchange on a large scale, as between states or nations.”
INS has considered certain refugee relief agencies and non-profit organizations to be engaged in development of foreign trade and commerce.
Evidence of being “engaged in the development of foreign trade and commerce” could include, for example: a list of foreign clients with their contact information, a specific description of all projects, contracts, and properties which the company is pursuing, a description of the funding of the work to be performed abroad, evidence that the employing firm or corporation is permitted to conduct business abroad, copies of all contracts, proposals, requests for proposals, or requests for bids for work to be performed abroad, and copies of financial statements and the applicants tax returns and transcripts.
4.3 Public International Organizations
The regulations list the eligible public international organizations of which the U.S. is a member by treaty or statute. This includes NATO, the United Nations, and all agencies and organizations which are a part of the UN. This list also includes organizations entitled to enjoy the privileges, exemptions, and immunities provided for in the International Organizations Immunities Act.
4.4 American Institutions of Research
The eligible American institutions of research in which an applicant may be employed by or under contract to work for are listed in the regulations. In some circumstances, USCIS may also regard research conducted abroad under a grant from a recognized institution of research as qualifying employment.
4.5 Religious Denomination or Interdenominational Mission Organization Having a Bona Fide Organization within the U.S.
As mentioned above, the citizen spouse may be either (a) “authorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination” or (b) “engaged solely as a missionary by a religious denomination or by an interdenominational mission organization.”
The Denomination or Organization
The denomination or interdenominational mission organization must have a “bona fide organization within the United States,” meaning be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and possessing a currently valid determination letter from IRS confirming the exemption.
The term “religious denomination” refers to a “religious group or community of believers” with an internal governing or organizational structure and other indicia of a religious denomination such as a common creed or statement of faith, form of worship, code of doctrine and discipline, religious services and ceremonies, or common established places of religious worship or religious congregation.
The term “minister” means an individual who is fully trained and authorized to conduct religious worship and other usual clerical duties but does not include a lay preacher. Normally, this requires evidence of ordination following completion of a course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution.
The term “missionary” means a member of a religious group sent into an area to do religious teaching or evangelism.
INA § 319(b)(1)(C) requires “employment.” As discussed above, Matter of M-J- holds that “employment” for purposes of the related statute means an “occupation” or “profession” and some kind of “contract for compensation….” This definition is broad enough to include not just common-law “employees” but also independent contractors. The breadth of this definition is also consistent with the use of the term “employment” under the regulations for R nonimmigrant visas for religious workers and special immigrant religious workers. They must receive compensation, but it may be either a “salary” (i.e., a paycheck) or “non-salaried compensation” (e.g., room, board, medical care, transportation), except that certain nonimmigrant missionaries may be self-supporting instead of receiving compensation.
Notably, the statute does not place any limitation on what type of entity must employ a minister or priest. Thus, an ordained rabbi qualified for benefits while teaching at a rabbinical seminary even though he was sent abroad by, and received compensation from, a private charitable corporation which was not a religious organization.
5. Other Requirements
5.1 The U.S. Citizen Spouse Is Regularly Stationed Abroad
As mentioned above, the statute requires that the U.S. citizen spouse is “regularly stationed abroad” in the requisite employment. Through these words, Congress intended to distinguish “regular” employment abroad from employment that is of a “short, temporary, or casual nature.”
In 1991 regulations, the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service put in place a more clear-line rule:
For purposes of this section, a citizen spouse is regularly stationed abroad if he or she proceeds abroad, for a period of not less than one year, pursuant to an employment contract or orders, and assumes the duties of employment.
The USCIS Policy Manual further explains the regulatory requirement that the citizen spouse must “proceed abroad, for a period of not less than one year”; namely, the qualifying employment abroad must be “scheduled to last for at least one year at the time of filing” the naturalization application … provided that the spouse remains employed abroad at the time of naturalization.”
A key question about the regulation that is not explicitly addressed by the USCIS Policy Manual is whether the employment contract must specify a term of employment of “not less than one year.” It appears that the answer is “no.” The Manual’s explanation that the employment must be “scheduled to last for at least one year” does not specify that the schedule must be set forth in the employment contract. And the Manual states that “evidence” of “the anticipated period of employment abroad” must be submitted, without specifying that the evidence must be found in the employment contract. As a result, at-will employment is acceptable for 319(b) purposes. Other evidence, such as an employer letter, could prove how long the employment is “scheduled to last.”
There is no requirement that the citizen have been employed by the company in the U.S. or be transferred abroad by the company. The citizen may be a “local hire” abroad rather an “expat” hire. Also, it is irrelevant whether undertaking the employment was the reason for moving or staying abroad.
The regulations require a person whose application is pending to notify USCIS of “any delay or cancellation of the citizen spouse’s assignment abroad.” Termination of the employment before naturalization is granted would require denial of the naturalization application.
5.2 Marital Status
The applicant for expeditious naturalization must be married to a U.S. citizen at the time of applying for naturalization and at the time of the oath ceremony. If the U.S. citizen spouse has passed away, if the marriage has ended, or if the applicant’s spouse is no longer a U.S. citizen, the application for expeditious naturalization will be denied.
The couple is not required to have previously lived in marital union.
Still, as discussed below, the applicant must still show an intent to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen and to reside in the U.S. upon termination of the qualifying employment abroad. Evidence may include the following documents referring to both spouses:
- Tax returns, bank accounts, leases, mortgages, or birth certificates of children; or
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-certified copies of the income tax forms that you both filed for the past 3 years; or
IRS tax return transcripts for the last 3 years.
5.3 Departing the U.S. to Live with the Citizen Spouse Abroad
The applicant must establish that he or she intends to leave the U.S. in order to “reside with” the citizen spouse within 30 to 45 days after the date of naturalization.
The applicant may move abroad for that purpose before filing the application. But it’s not necessary that the applicant and the U.S. citizen lived together before 45 days after naturalization.
If there is any delay in departure from the U.S. or any cancellation of the U.S. citizen spouse’s employment abroad, or if the applicant is unable to reside with the U.S. citizen spouse because the U.S. citizen spouse is employed in an area of hostility where dependents may not reside, the applicant-spouse must notify USCIS immediately. If the foreign spouse is restricted from joining the U.S. citizen where he or she is employed, USCIS will not deny the expeditious naturalization application. Spouses of U.S. citizens employed in areas where the applicant spouse is restricted from joining them may still be granted expeditious naturalization regardless of how far the applicant lives from his or her U.S. citizen spouse as long as the applicant had the intention of going abroad to reside with his or her spouse. However, USCIS will not grant expeditious naturalization to the applicant spouse of a U.S. citizen working abroad if the applicant does not initially at least intend to take up residence in the foreign country where their U.S. citizen spouse is employed.
5.4 Good faith intention to take up residence within the U.S.
The applicant for expeditious naturalization must declare before the Attorney General in good faith an intention to take up residence within the United States immediately once the U.S. citizen spouse concludes their employment abroad
Our law firm is available to represent clients with respect to expeditious naturalization. Feel free to contact us for further information.
See generally INA § 319(b), 8 U.S.C. § 1330(b). ↑
INA § 319(b)(3). ↑
INA § 319(b)(3). There are also exemptions from the requirements to (c) continuously reside in the U.S. between the time of filing and the naturalization examination (8 C.F.R. 319.2(a)(2)-(3)) and (d) reside in a state for 3 months prior to filing the application (INA § 319(b)(3); AFM § 73.4(h)(1)). Further, the good moral character requirement is modified for expeditious naturalization. In a standard naturalization case, the applicant must prove good moral character during the required five years of continuous residence and up to the time of the naturalization ceremony. INA § 316(a). To be eligible for expeditious naturalization, the applicant must show merely that he or she is a person of good moral character, 8 C.F.R. § 319.2(a)(5), with no test of prior character except as it may relate to present character. ↑
8 C.F.R. § 213a.2(c)(1)(ii). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 213a.2(c)(1)(ii); AFM ch. 20.5; 9 FAM 40.41 NN7, 7.2. ↑
U.S. v. Mulvey, 232 Fed. 513 (2d Cir. 1916). ↑
Legal Opinion of General Counsel, HQ 319-C (Feb. 23, 1993). ↑
Whom We Shall Welcome, Report of the President’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization 247 (Jan. 1, 1943). ↑
INA § 316(b). ↑
8 C.F.R. 316.5(d)(1)(ii); Robert C. Divine, Immigration Practice 2009-2010, §12-19. ↑
See INA § 317. ↑
INA § 316(b)(2); 8 C.F.R. 316.5(d)(2). ↑
INA § 317(3). ↑
INA § 319(c). ↑
INA §319(d) and (e). ↑
8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(1). ↑
INA 316(a); 8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(2). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 316.2(a)(7). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2(a)(5); 12 USCIS-PM G.4(A). ↑
8 C.F.R. Part 312. ↑
INA § 319(a); 8 C.F.R. § 319.1(a)(3). Certain battered spouses and children also are eligible for naturalization upon completion of three years of residence. INA § 319(a). ↑
INA § 316(a); 8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(3). ↑
INA 316(a); 8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(6). ↑
INA 316(a); 8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(5). ↑
INA 316(a); 8 C.F.R. 316.2(a)(4). ↑
The requirement of lawful permanent residence is not specifically waived and so must be complied with. Immigration L. & Proc. §97.03(2)(b), citing 40 Op. Att’y Gen. 64 (1941). See USCIS Policy Manual, vol. 2, Part G, § A (Applicant under § 319(b) (must be an “LPR at the time of filing the naturalization application.”). But see Robert C. Divine, Immigration Practice 2009-2010, §12-28, footnote 115 (suggesting that it may be possible to file the N-400 at the same time that a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and immigrant visa application are pursued). ↑
The applicant must “at the time of examination on the application for naturalization, be present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.” 8 C.F.R. § 319.2(a)(2). ↑
INA § 319(b)(1)(A); 8 C.F.R. 319.2(b)(3)(c). See 8 C.F.R. 319(b)(3)(c) (which states that if the marital union between the applicant and the U.S. citizen ends as a result of death of the U.S. citizen, divorce, or expatriation of the U.S. citizen at any time prior to naturalization, the applicant under this provision will become ineligible for expeditious naturalization, even if the applicant marries another U.S. citizen). ↑
INA § 319(b)(1)(B). This statutory requirement is the same as the N-470 requirement, with the following exceptions. (A) The statute here, unlike the N-470 statute, doesn’t specify that the subsidiary must be “more than 50 per centum … owned by an American firm or corporation.” Cf. INA § 316(b). Nevertheless, the INS General Counsel has opined that the 50 per centum criterion should apply to expeditious naturalization too. INS General Counsel Opinion No. 95-21, 1995 WL 1796328. (B) There is no statutory requirement here that the employee personally be “engaged in the development of such foreign trade and commerce” or in protecting the employer’s property rights. Cf. INA § 316(b). ↑
INA § 319(b)(1)(B). This requirement is the same as for an N-470 applicant, except that here it is not enough to be “under contract with” the U.S. Government. Cf. INA § 316(b). ↑
INA § 319(b)(1)(B); 8 C.F.R. § 316.20(a). This is the same requirement that applies to N-470 applicants, except that for expeditious naturalization it is not enough to be “under contract with” the institution and the applicant need not personally be “carrying on scientific research” on behalf of the institution. Cf. INA § 316(b). ↑
INA § 319(b)(1)(B); 8 C.F.R. § 316.20(b), (c). This requirement is similar to N-470 requirement, except that for expeditious naturalization there is no requirement analogous to the N-470 requirement that the employment must not have been “employed until after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence.” Cf. INA § 316(b). ↑
The citizen must be (a) authorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization within the U.S.; or (b) engaged solely as a missionary with a religious denomination or an interdenominational mission organization having a bona fide organization within the U.S. INA § 319(b)(1)(B). This requirement differs from the requirement for the N-470 application. For N-470 purposes, brothers, nuns, or sisters are eligible. Cf. INA § 317. ↑
The term “abroad,” presumably refers to any location outside the “United States,” which is defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act as “the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.” INA § 101(a)(38). See Tien Top Lee v. United States, 549 F.2d 154 (9th Cir. 1977) (assuming but not deciding that employment in American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the U.S., counts as employment abroad). See also INA§ 101(a)(29) (defining “outlying possessions of the United States” as American Samoa and Swains Island). ↑
Matter of Warrach, 17 I. & N. Dec. 285 (Reg. Comm’r 1979). See Matter of Chawathe, 25 I. & N. Dec. 369 (AAO 2010). See also Memo from David A. Martin, General Counsel, INS, to Thomas Cook, Chief, Naturalization and Special Projects Branch, INS, Interpretation of American Firm or Corporation for Section 319(b) INA (Sept. 14, 1995), 1995 WL 1796328. ↑
INA § 319(b)(2). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2(b)(1). ↑
INA § 319(b)(3); 8 C.F.R. § 319(a)(4)(i)-(ii). ↑
USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual, Appendix 74-14 (June 18, 2007). See Matter of Chawathe, In Preservation of Residence for Naturalization Proceedings On Behalf of Self-Represented., INS Administrative Appeals Unit A74 254 994+ (2006) (where court held that a corporation was an “American firm or corporation” under INA §316(b) since it had been established that the corporation was incorporated in the U.S. and that it was a publicly held corporation whose stock is exclusively sold on U.S. stock exchange). ↑
In Re [name withheld] (AAO May 16, 2008), published at 2008 WL 4052012; In Re [name withheld] (AAO Mar. 28, 2008), published at 2008 WL 3990712. ↑
In re: X (AAO Dec. 1, 2008), 2008 WL 5745277 (For KPMG, a Delaware limited liability partnership to be an “American firm or corporation” for purposes of INA § 316(b), “at least 51% of the partners” must be U.S. citizens.). ↑
INS Interpretations § 316.1(c)(4), citing INS Ass’t Comm., file CO 316a.1-P, Mar. 8, 1961 (a person other than the sole owner who is employed abroad representing the sole proprietorship doing business under a trade name is eligible for extended absence benefits.) ↑
In re Nathan, 114 F. Supp. 361 (S.D.N.Y. 1953). ↑
INS Interpretations 316.5(c)(6) (recognizing that certain nonprofit relief agencies meet the requirement of being an “American firm or corporation” engaged in the development of trade or commerce for purposes of filing an N-470). ↑
Memo from David A. Martin, General Counsel, INS, to Thomas Cook, Chief, Naturalization and Special Projects Branch, INS, Interpretation of American Firm or Corporation for Section 319(b) INA (Sept. 14, 1995), 1995 WL 1796328. ↑
Interpretations 316.1(4)(ii), citing Matter of P-, 5 I. & N. Dec. 332 (1953) (Part-time employment sufficient for N-470 where applicant was abroad “primarily” to study but also also taught Italian for a school, handling “all the language requirements of the school.” The decision does not mention how many hours a week he worked. He received more than a “token payment of salary.”) ↑
See also Matter of R-, 4 I. & N. Dec. 196 (Central Office 1950) (For purposes of INA § 307(b), which is an earlier version of INA § 316(b), the term “employment” means “to use, to have in service, to cause to be engaged in doing something, it does not mean to hire but to use whether under hire or not.” As such, payment of a commission rather than a salary is not disqualifying.) ↑
Id. at 542. ↑
Donald Neufeld, Assoc. Dir., Service Ctr. Ops., USCIS, Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, including Third-Party Placements (HQ 70/22.214.171.124) (Jan. 8, 2010), citing Nationwide Mutual Ins. Co. v. Darden, 503 U.S. 318, 322-323 (1992) and Clackamas Gastroenterology Assoc. v. Wells, 538 U.S. 40 (2003). See also INS Interpretations § 316.1(c)(4), citing Gen. Coun., No. 7-54, Feb. 5, 1954 (Benefits under § 316(b) are not available if the employee is also the sole owner of the firm which he represents abroad.). ↑
See also In re Nathan, 114 F. Supp. 361 (S.D.N.Y. 1953) (dicta). This case involved an individual self-employed in the export business. The court noted that if he were to “form a corporation of which he was the sole stock-holder and enter into a contract by which the corporation employed him, there would seem to be no escape from the conclusion that he had qualified himself to receive the benefits of” INA § 707(b), which is an earlier version of § 316(b). The court made no mention of the common law issue of control. ↑
Clackamas, supra, at 448. ↑
Clackamas, supra, at 449-450. ↑
INA § 319(b). The regulations at 8 C.F.R. § 319.2 do not elaborate, nor does the USCIS Policy Manual ch. 4. ↑
Cf. INA § 316(b)(1); Matter of P, 5 I. & N. Dec. 332 (B.I.A. 1953) (requiring for N-470s that a “substantial” portion of the applicant’s time be devoted to such purposes). ↑
In Re [name withheld] (AAO Apr. 26, 2007), published at 2007 WL 5317983. ↑
Memo, Grover J. Rees III, INS General Counsel, Interpretation of “Foreign Trade and Commerce” for Purposes of Section 319(b) of the Act, HQ 319-C (Feb. 23, 1993). ↑
Id. Prior to this definition being adopted by the INS in 1993, a court held that teaching does not fall within the definition of trade. See In re Fang Lan Dankowski, 478 F. Supp. 1203, 1208 (D. Guam 1979) (where court cited Jeu Jo Wan v. Nagle, 9 F.2d 309 (9th Cir. 1925) which asserted that responsibilities of a “teacher” did not fall within the term “trade” as defined by the Immigration Act of 1924. The court held in Fang Lan Dankowski that although the Immigration Act of 1924 was repealed, the rationale was still applicable in the context of defining “foreign trade or commerce” for expeditious naturalization purposes. In that case, the U.S. citizen teacher gave classes to dependents of U.S. citizens engaged in foreign commerce and trade, but the court held that the teacher was not directly involved in “foreign trade or commerce.”). ↑
In re Fang Lan Dankowski, 478 F. Supp. 1203, 1207 (D. Guam 1979). ↑
INS Interpretation 316.1(c)(6). Qualifying businesses have included CARE, United HIAS Service, Inc., American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc. and Catholic Relief Services. Id. INS reasoned that relief supplies, such as food and clothing, were purchased in the United States and then distributed to those in need throughout the world, and U.S. ship holding companies were contracted to transport the donated supplies abroad and bring the refugees to the United States. Id. ↑
In re [name withheld] (AAO May 16, 2008), published at 2008 WL 4052012; In re [name withheld] (AAO Mar. 28, 2008), published at 2008 WL 3990712. ↑
8 C.F.R. §s 316.20(b) and (c), 319.5; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook, §11:6. ↑
8 C.F.R. § 316.20(b). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 316.20(c). The list is also available at 9 FAM 41.24 Exhibit 1. ↑
8 C.F.R. 316.20(a). ↑
See Matter of M-J-, 8 I. & N. Dec. 520 (B.I.A. 1960); Interpretations 319.2(e)(5)(ii) (where the court found that a U.S. citizen conducting his doctoral dissertation abroad, through a fellowship grant by the Foreign Area Fellowship Program, a unit of a recognized American institution of research, the Social Science Research Council, was considered to be regularly stationed abroad in the “employment.” According to the terms of the fellowship grant, the citizen spouse would need to devote most of his time to receiving training and engaging in research for which he would be compensated. The court agreed that the citizen’s engagement abroad under these conditions amounted to “employment” in the broad sense of employment.); Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook, §11:6. ↑
INA § 319(b)(1) ↑
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(r)(3). ↑
73 Fed. Reg. 72280 – 81 (explaining the requirement of an “ecclesiastical government”). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(r)(10). ↑
12 USCIS-PM D.5. ↑
See Matter of R-, 4 I. & N. Dec. 196 (Central Office 1950) (For purposes of INA § 307(b), which is an earlier version of INA § 316(b), the term “employment” means “to use, to have in service, to cause to be engaged in doing something, it does not mean to hire but to use whether under hire or not.” As such, payment of a commission rather than a salary is not disqualifying.) ↑
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(r). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 204.5(m). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 214.2(r)(11) (nonimmigrants); 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(m)(10) (special immigrants); 6 USCIS-PM H.2(B)(5). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 214.2®(11)(ii)(A). ↑
Matter of F-, 8 I. & N. Dec. 533 (Ass’s Comm’r 1960) (interpreting INA § 317). See also INS Interpretations § 317.1(b)(1). ↑
INS Interpretations § 319.2(c)(2), citing In Re Sugarek, 77 F. Supp. 98 (N.D. Cal. 1947). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2(a)(1), published originally at 56 Fed. Reg. 50,475 (Oct. 7, 1991). Note that the regulatory requirement that the citizen spouse must have “assume[d]” the employment reverses the prior INS Interp. 319.2(c)(2)(i)-(ii), stating that that the term “regularly stationed abroad” includes situations where, at the time the naturalization application is “filed and granted” the citizen spouse is “pending travel abroad to enter upon newly assigned foreign employment.” Consistent with the regulations, the current Form N-400 checkbox for 319(b) expeditious naturalization requires that the U.S. citizen spouse “is regularly engaged in specified employment abroad.” Form N-400 at 1. Oddly, the USCIS Policy Manual misquotes the form, saying that the checkbox should be used where the citizen “is or will be regularly scheduled stationed abroad.” 12 USCIS-PM G.4(G). ↑
12 USCIS-PM G(4)(D). See also USICS Washington District Office, N-400 319(b) Process Information Letter (received by the author from USCIS in June 2021) (The government orders or commercial contract “should show … at least one year remaining on [the] assignment from the date you filed your application. Extended orders … do not qualify unless … issued before your application filing date.”). The contradictory INS Interpretations 319.2(c)(2) are no longer relevant on this point because they pre-date the current regulations. ↑
12 USCIS-PM 4(D). ↑
12 USCIS-PM 4(G). See also Form N-400 Instructions at 12 (Mar. 23, 2016) (requesting “[d]ocumentation to establish your spouse’s employment abroad is scheduled to last for at least 1 year from the date you filed Form N-400”). ↑
The concept that at-will employment can be “scheduled” to continue for at least one year is analogous to the rule that at will-employment can be “permanent” within the definition of 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(i)(2) for purposes of immigration as an outstanding professor or researcher where the parties have an “expectation” the employment will continue indefinitely. See Memorandum from Michael Aytes, USCIS Acting Dir. for Domestic Operations, Guidance on the Requirement of a “Permanent Offer of Employment” for Outstanding Professors or Researchers (June 6, 2006), https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/memos/eb1visa060606.pdf. ↑
Matter of P, 5 I. & N. Dec. 332 (Central Office 1953). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2(b)(2). ↑
INA § 319(b)(3) (requiring that the spouse “is” regularly stationed abroad “in such employment”). See Hong Yin v. Frazier, 804 F.Supp.2d (D.S.D. 2011) (denying naturalization on the basis that the spouse’s qualifying employment ended prior to adjudication of the application); Richard D. Steel, Steel on Immigration Law § 15:11 (2017). ↑
INA § 319(b); 8 C.F.R. § 319.2(c); Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6. ↑
12 USCIS-PM G.4(C). ↑
USCIS Form M-477, Document Checklist (Nov. 21, 2016). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6. ↑
AFM § 74.2(b)(2) (applicant who files while abroad is still required to return to the U.S. for their interview, naturalization, and any other related naturalization procedure, such as the biometrics appointment). ↑
See 8 C.F.R. 319.2; USCIS Policy Manual ch. 4B; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6. ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2(b). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6; INS Interp. 319.2(c)(3)(iii) citing to In re Petition of Sun Cha Tom, 294 F.Supp. 791; In re Simpson, 315 F.Supp. 584 (W.D.La. 1970). ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6. ↑
8 C.F.R. § 319.2; Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6; Interpretations 319.2(c)(3)(iii). ↑
INA § 319; 8 C.F.R. § 319.2(a)(2); Daniel Levy, U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Handbook §11:6. ↑
I’m excited to have found this article on “expeditious naturalization.” I’m a green card holder and married to a U.S. citizen who is now working in China and thus, I think I am eligible for expeditious naturalization. I just found out about this possibility. (My immigration lawyer didn’t tell me earlier?!@#)
1. My husband’s company has headquarters in Paris, but its parent company is headquartered in New York City. Would this company qualify as an American company for purposes of expedited naturalization?
2. I have been in and out of the country for approximately 4 years since, often staying abroad for more than 6 months at a time. Will this impact my eligibility for expeditious naturalization?
3. Which address should I put on the application form, since we are already living in China?
4. Where should I file the application?
Thank you very much and I really appreciate your help.
Thanks for your questions. Let me try to answer them in order.
1. My husband’s company has headquarters in Paris, but its parent company is headquartered in New York City. Would this company qualify as an American company for purposes of expedited naturalization?
The law requires that the U.S. citizen spouse be employed by “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States, or a subsidiary thereof.”
The government interprets the term “American” firm to mean one of two things. In the case of a privately held corporation, this means a company owned more than 50% by U.S. nationals. This generally requires copies of the business’ articles of incorporation, evidence of ownership including copies of stock certificates and ledgers, and proof of the shareholders’ nationality (e.g., passports).
In the case of a publicly-held corporation, it would be impractical to gather that evidence from the multitude of shareholders. So the government says that a publicly-held corporation is considered to “American” if the applicant can demonstrate that the corporation is incorporated in the U.S. and trades its stock exclusively on a U.S. stock exchange.
Note that the foreign subsidiary of an “American” corporation will qualify.
You don’t mention, Wanda, whether your husband’ s company is publicly or privately held. If it’s privately held, you’ll need to look at the companies’ stock ledgers and the passports of the owners. If it’s publicly held, it’s not determinative that the parent company is headquartered in New York City. Instead, look at where the parent company is incorporated and which stock exchange(s) it’s stock is traded on. The company’s annual report should say.
2. I have been in and out of the country for approximately 4 years since, often staying abroad for more than 6 months at a time. Will this impact my eligibility for expeditious naturalization?
One issue which may arise is the question of whether you’ve “abandoned” your permanent resident status–lost it–by making a trip or series of trips outside the U.S. which aren’t “temporary.” See this article for further details: https://lawandborder.com/?p=2355.
3. Which address should I put on the application form, since we are already living in China?
Actually, on the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, there’s space for two addresses–your “home” address and your “mailing” address. Your home address should be “where you now live,” according to the instructions. So for you that’s China. The mailing address should preferably be a reliable address (e.g., a relative’s house) where you can receive mail in the U.S., since it may be difficult for you to timely receive USCIS mail overseas.
4. Where should I file the application?
According to the current USCIS instructions, applicants for expeditious naturalization should mail their applications to the USCIS Phoenix Lockbox.
Is it true that if I get employed by a company abroad that is American, this would count toward my citizenship? And does it matter if I had lived in the U.S. for a whole year before this or not?
My background is that I received my green card in March 2011 (through my father, who naturalized after I was born abroad). I obtained a re-entry permit and traveled abroad to continue my studying for a Master’s degree. I graduated this year, re-entered the U.S. with the permit, and then left again. I gave birth to a baby boy in June. I never been in the U.S. for 1 year straight.
Also, can I petition for my husband, even though I’m not working? What about the affidavit of support?
You’re right, unfortunately, that employment for a U.S. company abroad won’t help you become a U.S. citizen because you wouldn’t meet the requirements for the Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.
A key requirement is that before filing the N-470, the applicant must have been physically present and residing in the U.S. for an uninterrupted period of at least one year after becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR). That requirement is poor public policy–it makes no sense in this age of global travel and interconnectedness. But it’s the law.
The benefit of an approved Form N-470 is that an absence from the U.S. of a year or more (whether preceding or subsequent to filing the naturalization application) will not break the required continuity of residence for naturalization. Thus, a naturalization applicant with an
approved Form N-470 petition may continue to satisfy the continuous residency general naturalization requirement while living outside of the U.S.
So to become a citizen, the most obvious options are for you to meet the 1-year continuous physical presence requirement (to file an N-470) or live in the U.S. more than half a year for the next five years.
As to your husband, yes, you can file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for him now, but you’ll need to meet the U.S. “domicile” requirement at the time he immigrates.
And, in case you weren’t aware, the child of an LPR born abroad can obtain a green card without filing a petition if entering the U.S. with the LPR parent during the parent’s first trip back to the U.S. after the birth, so long as that trip is within 2 years of the birth.
Your family may well benefit from a consultation with an attorney to map out your options for the future. (Yes, our law firm can do that).
Thank you Mr. Chodorow. You are the only lawyer who gives straight-to-the-point answers!!
I’m considering a plan to go to the US and fulfill the one-year continuous presence requirement for filing an N-470, then going abroad to work for an American company. Questions:
1. I noticed on the Visa Bulletin Board that the current F2A category is current. Can I file a petition now? What if I’m outside the U.S.? How long would it take for my husband to immigrate?
2. And what about the Form I864, Affidavit of Support? If I’m working abroad for an American company and have an approved N-470, will my salary count toward the “income” requirement? Or can a family member file the affidavit? Will I count as “domiciled” in the U.S. for purposes of the N-470?
3. My last question is regarding the physical presence and continuous residence requirements for naturalization since I recently spent one year abroad (with a reentry permit). Will I still need to be physically present in the US for 2.5 whole years even if i have an approved N-470?
1. Any LPR can file an I-130 for a spouse, regardless of whether the LPR is in the U.S. or abroad. Although the September 2013 Visa Bulletin shows there is no wait for this category, it also predicts that it will be backlogged again as of October. The State Department has made no prediction how long a person who files in October will need to wait. But you can see that recently the F2A wait has been about 3-5 years. You’ll need to make a strategic decision to make about whether to file the I-130 now. If yes, it may reduce the odds that your spouse may qualify for a nonimmigrant visa like a B visitor or F student visa which requires proving nonimmigrant intent. If no, you may be delaying your husband’s wait for a green card.
2.Yes, if you’re working abroad per an approved N-470, you’ll count as “domiciled” in the U.S for purposes of filing a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. See Issues for U.S. Expats Filing a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative. But for most expats, their salary isn’t sufficient to meet the income requirement for the I-864. The foreign earned income exclusion for 2013 is $97,600. If the income isn’t taxed, it doesn’t count for the I-864. If your income is insufficient, you can in certain situations count the income and assets belonging to you, the sponsored immigrant, your household members and/or a joint sponsor.
3. If I understand your question, you’re asking about how your previous absence from the U.S. in excess of one year without an approved N-470 impacts your continuous residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization. There’s a rule that a person who must satisfy a 5-year residence period and who is absent from the U.S. in excess of one year without an approved N-470 “may file an application for naturalization four years and one day following the date of the applicant’s return to the United States to resume permanent residence.” 8 C.F.R. § 316.5(c)(1)(ii). Once you do return to the U.S. to resume permanent residence, if you go abroad again with an approved N-470, your time abroad will count towards the four years and one day continuous residence requirement. Generally, the required period of physical presence is 1/2 of the required period of continuous residence (i.e., 1/2 of 4 years and one day). As explained in the attached article, Naturalization for Permanent Residents and Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad, your time abroad with an approved N-470 won’t count towards meeting your physical presence requirement unless you are employed by, or under contract with, the U.S. government.
Thank you! I really appreciate your prompt replies! I’ll be contacting your firm to set up a consultation.
I want to fill out paperwork for naturalization for my parents. They have been permanent residents since 1989. They have recently left the US to go overseas with a valid re-entry permit and came back two years later (as stated on the permit). Will this hinder them from applying for naturalization?
Julie, could be a problem. See this article: Can a Green Card Holder Who’s Been Overseas for 6 Months Apply for U.S. Citizenship?.
First I’d like to say you are amazing. You’re extremely helpful and nice to people in such confusing situations.
I am a US Citizen, and my wife is a LPR (since January 2012). Her green card expires in January (4 months from now), and I have a job offer to work for a US-owned company in Australia. She has been in the US uninterrupted for over 1 year.
1) Are we eligible for the expedited naturalization process?
2} If so, is she required to stay in the US until that is complete, or can she travel with me and complete it all in Australia?
3) Would she need to travel to Bangkok (closest USCIS office) or Honolulu for the interview?
4) If the process will extend past the expiration date of her green card ( very likely ) should she renew the card normally?
5) Does she need to file the N-470 as well?
1) Please refer to the complete list of requirements in the above article.
2) She can travel at will but needs to be in the U.S. for the interview and oath ceremony (which may be held on the same day).
3) The interview must be in the U.S., so Bangkok is not an option. But the interview can be at your chosen office within the U.S.
4) That’s wise.
5) That would be a “belt and suspenders” approach. If she qualifies for expeditious naturalization as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, she doesn’t need any period of U.S. residence. But if it’s not clear she qualifies for that, she could file an N-470 to preserve her her residence for naturalization purposes.
Here is a twist on this thread — I am a U.S. citizen and my spouse is an alien. I am retired and currently living abroad but intend to get LPR status for my spouse. Is she eligible for expedited naturalization based on her employment abroad for the U.S. Government?
Thanks so much.
Expeditious naturalization under INA § 319(b) is only for the spouse of a US citizen, where the latter is employed abroad in certain capacities.
I am a US citizen, and my wife is an LPR. She was granted conditional residency in 2011, and the conditions were removed this year. I have been offered a position located in Mexico as a transportation manager, but still employed by and paid by my current US company, beginning Jan. 20 2014 lasting 3-4 years, following which I would return back to the US to continue working for same company. June 27, 2014 will be the third anniversary of the date my wife was granted conditional residency. I’m confused on what’s the best course of action–an N-470 filing and then in June file N-400 ? Or would we qualify for “expeditious naturalization?” My wife has lived continuously with me in the US since 2010.
You can rule out the N-470 because that’s just for an LPR who is personally working for a U.S. company abroad.
But your wife may well qualify for expeditious naturalization. As described in Part 4 of the attached Guide, the key requirements are:
1. The applicant is married to a U.S. citizen at the time of filing for naturalization.
2. The citizen is in the employment of “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States, or a subsidiary thereof” (or another of the designated employers).
3. The U.S. citizen spouse is “regularly stationed abroad” in such employment.
4. The applicant is in the United States at the time of naturalization.
5. The applicant is an LPR at the time of the naturalization interview.
6. The applicant will depart the U.S. to live abroad with the citizen spouse within 30 to 45 days after the date of naturalization. And
7. The applicant declares in good faith an intention to take up residence within the United States immediately following the termination of such employment abroad of the citizen
Check out the details in the Guide. Or, if you decide not to have your wife apply for expeditious naturalization, make a plan to preserve your wife’s green card so she won’t lose it by abandonment during her 3-4 years abroad.
If you would like legal representation, consider scheduling a consultation with our firm. We represent clients worldwide in these cases.
I received my green card in July 2012. I will have 18 months physical presence by January 2014. I work for the United Nations, NY and my wife is a U.S. citizen. I am thinking of applying for a temporary assignment for a year or two in Africa in our field office. If I do not leave the U.S., I can apply for my citizenship in April 2015. However, if I decide to leave the country, what is the best way for me to preserve my green card and still be able to apply for citizenship ( I can come back for vacations in between). I know I don’t qualify for N-470 because I traveled abroad once in January 2013 and once to Mexico in August 2013, which means I do not have a continuous stay for 1 year since I received my green card. Any comments, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you much in advance.
If you don’t qualify to file an N-470, see if you can get your U.S. citizen wife a job abroad for a qualified employer so that you then meet the requirements for expeditious naturalization. If neither works, consider whether naturalization is such a priority that you may put off a foreign assignment in order to meet the continuous residence and physical presence requirements.
Thank you for your kind reply. My wife is currently studying so she cannot leave at all. The assignment is a great experience and doesn’t happen often or I may never get the opportunity again. I was just wondering if I could go for a year assignment and then come back in between before 6 months for a month or so and then once the year is up, I would be back here again. I would already have the physical presence requirement of 18 months by this January. My question is, would it be ok for me to come in between the year and then go back again.
If I understand your follow-up question, it’s this: If you take a year assignment abroad (with brief visits back to the U.S.), will it impact your eligibility for naturalization based on having met the 3-year continuous residence requirement for the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
The continuous residence requirement is 3 years for an applicant who immediately preceding the filing of the application has been married to and living in a “marital union” with a U.S. citizen. The term “marital union” means “actually resid[ing] with his or her current spouse.” Marital union can be lost through divorce, death, expatriation, or legal or informal separation (but not involuntary separation). https://lawandborder.com/can-a-green-card-holder-whos-been-overseas-for-6-months-apply-for-citizenship/.
I haven’t done detailed research, but it’s possible that USCIS would interpret separation for a 1-year assignment abroad (with brief trips back to the U.S. to see your wife) to break “marital union.”
Also, the same article explains that per official USCIS guidance taking a foreign assignment could interrupt your required “continuous residence” even if no trip abroad exceeds 6 months. To me, the “guidance” is misguided and muddled. But unfortunately it creates some risk that your foreign assignment would be considered to interrupt your required continuous residence. A key distinction between your case and the example in the USCIS guidance is that your work would be for the UN. This may save your continuous residence, but the USCIS guidance doesn’t say.
Thank you for your detailed and informative response. The information in the USCIS is definitely ambiguous. I will be keeping my apartment here along with all my insurance as my wife would be living there. My employment would also be here in NY, I will just be moving temporarily. However, thank you again for your kind assistance and I really appreciate your answers.
Dear Mr. Chodorow,
First, thank you for this helpful and detailed website. I didn’t find answers to all of my questions, but now I can at least focus my remaining questions in the right direction.
My situation is this: I am a US citizen. My domestic partner is an Italian citizen who has had LPR status for many years (at least 8). He has been living in the USA for more than 11 years. He works for a large American-owned (publicly traded on US stock exchange) corporation. There is the possibility that this corporation will have work for him in Germany or Switzerland for an extended period of time (more than a few years). I would be going with him to live abroad if this were the case–though we aren’t married, we share a residence for the last six years, bank accounts, and I’m on his health insurance plan at work, etc. In both of those countries, they will grant me a visa as a domestic partner, to reside there with him, without being legally married.
BUT, would a stay abroad of 3 or 4 years endanger his LPR status, even though he’s employed by an American owned company? He has not applied for naturalized citizenship because of concerns ‘down the road’, regarding aging parents who are still in Italy and may require him to be there to help them for extended periods of time–giving up his Italian citizenship could make this very challenging, should the need arise.
I hope this isn’t too convoluted, and appreciate any guidance you can offer or suggestions for where to find info about this kind of circumstance.
Blanche, take a look at this article related to avoiding abandonment of LPR status. In particular, look at my comments to Dan related to working for an American firm or corporation abroad.
I am a U.S. citizen, and I would like to petition for my husband. Both him and I work for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. I work for the Department of Homeland Security, and he works for the Department of State. We got married in the U.S. in 2007. Then in 2011 I became a U.S. citizen, and in Aug. 2011 we moved to Brazil. Can he apply for citizenship since we both work for the U.S. Government? Does he need to move back to the U.S. and wait there, or can the whole process be done here at the U.S. Embassy? Will he get his green card first or will he get his citizenship right away?
Your husband may be eligible for expeditious naturalization based on his marriage to you, a U.S. citizen, if among other things, (a) you are regularly stationed abroad for employment by the U.S. Government, he is an LPR (green card holder) at the time of the naturalization interview, (c) he intends to live abroad with you within 30-45 days after naturalizing; and (d) he intends to move to the U.S. upon termination of your employment abroad for the U.S. Government. The key authorities are INA section 319(b)(1) and 8 CFR Part 319.
So one strategy to consider may be for you to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for him, upon approval of which he can apply for an immigrant visa. See generally Issues for U.S. Expats Filing a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative.
That process of filing the I-130, obtaining an immigrant visa, and being admitted to the U.S. as an LPR at a port of entry only needs to be completed prior to the naturalization interivew. So, no, your husband doesn’t need to move back to the U.S. and wait there. But he’ll need to go to the U.S. at least once: to be admitted as an LPR, attend the naturalization interview, and attend the citizenship oath ceremony. This can often be accomplished in one short trip.
Hope that’s helpful,
I am a US citizen and my wife is a non-US citizen. I believe my wife qualifies for expeditious naturalization.
How can she be admitted as an LPR, attend a naturalization interview, and attend the citizenship oath ceremony in one short trip as you have mentioned?
Is it possible to apply for N-400 without becoming an LPR?
Omar, Actually at footnote 25 and the accompanying text I explain that the prevailing view is that to qualify for naturalization under section 319(b) a person must be a permanent resident both at the time the application is filed and at the time of the naturalization interview.
Hello Mr. Chodorow,
My case is this: I’m a US citizen living abroad and working as a contractor for a US company (almost 4 years now), I got married here a year ago and wish to petition my husband to get his green card.
If he does get the green card, can we apply for the expeditious naturalization?
Thanks for being so patient and helpful.
For purposes of expeditious naturalization, the U.S. citizen spouse must be “employed by” the American firm or corporation (or its subsidiary). For this provision, it’s not enough to be “under contract with” that entity. In other words, independent contractors are not covered.
A friend of mine, a U.S citizen, runs a very small newly established company in Maryland. He is planning to conduct import and export business with China. Now, he may need my wife, a U.S. citizen, to go to China helping him to network with potential business partners for a while soon.
In this case, am I qualified for expedited naturalization ? As my wife’s employer just starts a small new company for trades in China, i don’t whether that counts as “American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States” according to 319 b. Again, am I qualified for expedited naturalization ?
The size of the U.S. company doesn’t impact eligibility (although there’s authority that a sole proprietor is ineligible to apply). A couple of the issues that our firm or another immigration lawyer would analyze in evaluating your eligibility for expeditious naturalization include, (a) whether the U.S. company is actually engaged in U.S. foreign trade and commerce–planning to do so is not enough, and (b) whether your wife is actually “employed” by the U.S. company or its foreign subsidiary–being an independent contractor is not enough.
You provide what is probably the only resource on the web for information about this topic!
Does my wife qualify for expeditious naturalization given these facts?
1. My wife has been an LPR for 3 years but we have been out of the country a lot. Will this impact her eligibility for naturalization?
2. I have had a sole proprietorship for the past 5 years, but I also own a newly-registered LLC, through which I import leather garments, do software development (mostly for U.S firms), and import fashion brands from China. I haven’t yet filed a federal income tax return for the LLC, and the total revenues are not very high.
3. I need to move overseas to manage my staff and manufacturing and increase sales.
Given that your wife has been outside the U.S. frequently, your immigration lawyer should analyze whether there’s a risk the government will determine she’s abandoned LPR status.
If you’re the sole owner of the LLC, there’s some debate about whether you qualify as “employed” by that LLC as required by INA section 319(b). In re Nathan, 114 F. Supp. 361 (S.D.N.Y. 1953). Contra INS Interpretations § 316.1(c)(4) (citing Gen. Coun., No. 7-54, Feb. 5, 1954). The best interpretation, in my opinion, is that the LLC is a separate legal entity from you, so you can count as “employed” by your own company.
Finally, you mentioned that the LLC hasn’t yet filed a federal income tax return. That goes to what evidence you have that the business is engaged in U.S. foreign trade or commerce. Your lawyer can help you look at all available evidence to see if it meets the burden of proof.
This is incredibly useful information. Thank you so much for posting! What follows is the curious case of myself, I hope you can help.
I am a South African citizen with a conditional permanent residency in the US whose two year period will end in June of next year. My wife and I intend going to SA to visit for the first time in nearly a year in October. In the new year, my wife and I will relocate there to work for between a year and two years: my wife for a US not-for-profit in religious education; myself in finance, likely for a South African company.
The reason we’re going is because it’s difficult for me to get a job in finance in the US with my South African degree and we hope that entry into finance there will enable us to return and to get a job. My wife will work in South Africa for the same not-for-profit she works for here. She will use our contacts with South African religious schools to develop the not-for-profit’s programs there.
So I suppose my questions are:
1) Will it matter that we will be living in my home country or that my wife works for a not-for-profit?
2) Are we more likely to get expedited naturalization before we go or once we’re there?
3) Will it be advisable to get a re-entry permit before we go, and are we likely to attain one?
4) Would it help if I were employed by the South African office of a US financial firm?
5) Should we postpone our impending visit so that I finish my continuous year? I suppose this will only be necessary if we don’t get the expedited naturalization?
Help with these questions will be extremely appreciated!
1a) Will it matter that we will be living in my home country? For expeditious naturalization, it doesn’t matter which country the LPR is in.
1b) Will it matter that my wife works for a not-for-profit? The government’s internal guidance (INS Interpretations) specifically recognize that a U.S. not-for-profit can be a qualifying employer.
2) Are we more likely to get expedited naturalization before we go or once we’re there? It’a always good to contact a lawyer earlier rather than later.
3) Will it be advisable to get a re-entry permit before we go, and are we likely to attain one? This is a fact-specific question to discuss wiht your lawyer.
4) Would it help if I were employed by the South African office of a US financial firm? The LPR’s overseas employment is typically irrelevant to eligibility for expeditious naturalization but may be relevant to avoiding abandonment of LPR status.
5) Should we postpone our impending visit so that I finish my continuous year required for an N-470? I suppose this will only be necessary if we don’t get the expedited naturalization? Whether or not to apply for an N-470 is another issue to discuss with your lawyer, as the answer will depend on a multitude of facts, your goals, and a cost-benefit analysis.
Thanks so much for the response! You really know your stuff! Great site!
I am a US citizen. My husband got a green card 6 months ago on the basis of our marriage. After getting the green card, we went back to Vietnam for a 3-month vacation. Now, he has a job working for a local hospital in the US. During the time in Vietnam, I found a job (a Vietnamese owned company) and wanted to go back to study and live there for at least 6 months. I talked to him about it, and he understands completely, but we’re worried about his Green Card status. Will it affect him if I reside in vietnam for 6 months at least? He has less than 2 years to apply for his 10 year green card and 3 years for a U.S. citizenship. What are the risks we’re facing if I decide to go to Vietnam and he’s staying in the US? Will it be hard for him to get a permanent green card?
Thank you so much.
Your husband will need to file a Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, within the 3 months before his two-year conditional residence expires. One consideration is whether the evidence of your valid relationship is sufficiently strong to get the I-751 approved, in light of the fact that you two will be separated for a significant period. Meet with our firm or another competent immigration lawyer to evaluate the evidence. For background info about the I-751, see our I-751 Guide
Another issue is that to qualify for naturalization the period of required residence in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident is usually 5 years but is reduced to 3 years if spent living in the U.S. in marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse. So your residence in Vietnam may mean that your husband must complete the longer residence period.
Dear Gary ,
My Spouse is a US citizen and she works for U.S owned firm abroad , I have just been admitted as LPR . my question is am I eligible for expeditious naturalization if my US spouse didn’t complete 3 years after her naturalization date ?
Amin: For expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Act, there’s no requirement that the U.S. citizen spouse have naturalized three years ago.
Dear Gary ,
Many thanks for your reply .
I am an LPR. I’ve already filed the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and my biometrics appointment is scheduled in 2 days. My U.S. citizen husband is about to start a civilian job at the U.S. Army base in Belgium. Do you think I still need to apply for “expeditious” naturalization since my biometrics appointment is already scheduled?
“Expeditious” naturalization is not just about a quick process. More importantly, it’s about exempting the applicant from key requirements, such as the normal periods of physical presence and continuous residence in the U.S. So if you meet the requirements of section 319(b) for expeditious naturalization and you need those exemptions, then you should be prepared to submit the corresponding evidence at your naturalization interview.
My U.S. citizen wife has signed a contract with an American-owned firm overseas. The job begins in 7 months. I’ve already applied for a U.S. immigrant visa. Can I apply for expeditious naturalization before my wife has begun the job and before I have the immigrant visa?
You’ll need to actually become a permanent resident before filing the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, under section 319(b). That requirement is not specifically waived and so must be complied with. Immigration L. & Proc. §97.03(2)(b), citing 40 Op. Att’y Gen. 64 (1941). See USCIS Policy Manual, vol. 2, Part G, § A (Applicant under § 319(b) (must be an “LPR at the time of filing the naturalization application.”).
But you can apply file the N-400 before your wife starts work abroad. She counts as “regularly stationed abroad” if she has proceeded or will proceed abroad “for a period of not less than one year” pursuant to an employment contract or orders and in fact assumes the duties of employment. The contract or orders must have already been issued and must specify the term of employment. See 8 C.F.R. 319.2.
I work for the United Nations overseas but live in America with my spouse who is a U.S. citizen. I applied for and was denied naturalization. The officer reviewed my and my wife’s taxes, leases, banks transactions, property, and utilities bills, as well as my kids’ school records. My job requires me to work for two months abroad, after which I have a week off, which I use to go back to the USA to see my family. Since becoming a permanent resident, I have never stayed outside of the USA for more than 3 months straight. What are my options for an appeal?
The most important tip I can give you is to consult with our firm or another competent immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Appeals of decisions on an N-400, Application for Naturalization, are made on Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings. The deadline for filing is nornmally within 30 days of the date that you were notified of the denial.
As to whether you have a valid ground for appeal, you haven’t mentioned a key fact: according to the USCIS denying your application for naturalization, what was the specific ground for the denial? Show the denial to your attorney.
As background, an applicant for naturalization must typically prove 3 years of “continuous residence” in the U.S. immediately preceding the filing of the application if the applicant has been married to and living in a “marital union” with a U.S. citizen who has been a U.S. citizen for all 3 years. The term “marital union” means “actually resid[ing] with his or her current spouse.” Marital union can be lost through divorce, death, expatriation, or legal or informal separation (but not involuntary separation). Further, the applicant must generally have been physically present in the U.S. for half of the 3 years. See generally Can a Green Card Holder Who’s Been Overseas for 6 Months Apply for Citizenship? It’s possible you have not met the continuous residence or physical presence requirement, or both.
Note that it’s possible for a permanent resident who’s a UN employee to get an approved Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, but the requirements are strict (including 1 year of continuous physical presence in the U.S. after becoming a permanent resident) and the benefits of an approvede N-470 are narrow (for UN employees, you may count as “continuously residing” in the U.S., but you must still meet the separate physical presence requirement).
Best of luck.
I (American born citizen) have been employed in Hong Kong for the past 25 years now. Initially for an American company doing American trade, and then for a foreign owned (HK) company doing American trade. I now own an American company (in the USA) which handles the products from that foreign company (of which I am still CEO). I have permanent residency in Hong Kong, and want to marry a Philippine national working in Hong Kong. Since I am employed now by the foreign (HK) owned company, doing 75% of its development and sales to USA trade, is it possible to qualify for Expeditious Naturalization after we get married?
For purposes of section 319(b), it’s not enough that you own a U.S. company. As mentioned above, you must be “employed” by that company or its subsidiary, meaning devote a substantial period of time to working for the company. And you must be “regularly stationed abroad” for such employment, meaning that you must have contract or orders to do such employment for at least one year.
It may be an option to re-arrange your life to fit that definition of 319(b). An immigration lawyer may also be able to help you formulate an alternative strategy to achieve the U.S. immigration law goals you have for your fiancee.
Gary, Thanks for your response.
Thank you so much for helping out. I really appreciate it! You are the best 🙂
This page has been much more useful than hours of searching through the USCIS website. I can’t thank you enough.
In my situation as the US citizen spouse, I am a sole proprietor of a small US-based web and software development company that both outsources to and works with clients from the Philippines. I regularly work from the Philippines (slightly more than 6 months each calendar year). I would be able to incorporate and employ myself if needed.
I am also a minister in my church with a congregation in the Philippines, and the religion has a legal and substantial US presence, but in our faith ministers are unpaid volunteers, not “employees.”
My wife will soon be an LPR. Would it be better to pursue an application for expeditious naturalization through my company or is it sufficient that I am a minister?
Great questions. The answers are likely to depend on the specific facts of your situation. This is exactly the kind of issue our law firm or another qualified immigration lawyer could help you analyze.
Dear Mr. Chodorow,
I am a U.S. citizen employed by the State Dept and assigned abroad. My husband received expeditious citizenship in July 2015. But there are few work opportunities for my husband where I am currently assigned. Our question is, would he lose his citizenship status if he returns to the U.S. to seek employment even if my tour of duty is not complete yet?
Thank you in advance for your help.
The legal issue for expeditious naturalization is whether the applicant–at the time of the interview and oath ceremony–intended to reside with the citizen spouse abroad not later than 45 days after naturalization. 8 C.F.R. 319.2. This requirement, found in the regulations, is not spelled out in the statute, but courts have reasoned that it is implied by the statute. In contrast, if a newly naturalized citizen moves abroad to be with his wife but later changes his mind, that is not relevant to naturalization eligibility.
Loss of citizenship through denaturalization is rare. Generally, people facing denaturalization by USCIS have lied about their eligibility or good moral character. Denaturalization procedures are handled by the U.S. district court with jurisdiction over the present residence of the individual in question. The burden of proof is on the government to show by evidence that is “clear, unequivocal and convincing, and does not leave the issue in doubt” that the individual in question should be denaturalized. Schneiderman v. U.S., 320 U.S. 118, 135 (1943).
So, in your husband’s case, to determine the risk of denaturalization, look at the evidence to see if there’s any clear evidence that your husband did not intend, at the time of the interview and oath ceremony, to reside abroad with you. For example, for what period did your husband reside abroad with you? When he left the U.S., what arrangements were made for his home, job, personal belongings there? What evidence is there that he sought employment abroad? How long after going abroad did he begin looking for employment in the U.S.?
Unless there is some clear evidence that your husband, at the time of his interview and oath, didn’t intend to reside abroad with you, USCIS is unlikely to start a denaturalization investigation, prosecute, and try to meet its burden in court.
I am am a US citizen and i work for a 100% US firm abroad .. i got married to my wife in the US who is Thai and she is currently a GC holder for 18 months … My job require me to stationed in Asia can i expedite my wife citizenship to the US so she can travel and live with me..
Quite possibly. If you want to review each eligibility requirement and understand the procedures, you may want to consult with our firm or another immigration lawyer competent in this type of case.
I am a US citizen employed by the US government. My wife (an LPR) and I have been married 25 years, and living in the US continuously for the past 18 years. I’ve applied for a US government job in Germany (we could move in 2-6 months).
1) Can my wife apply for citizenship now and finish the process overseas?
2) If we decide to wait, can she apply once we’re in Germany?
Glenn: Yes, it’s possible to apply for expeditious naturalization before or after moving abroad. A prerequisite is that the U.S. citizen spouse must have already been contracted or assigned to the overseas employment. Still, given current naturalization application processing times often exceeding 6 months, it’s unlikely that the applicant will complete the naturalization process before the U.S. citizen moves abroad. The applicant can remain behind in the U.S. to complete the process (being interviewed and taking the oath of citizenship), or can return to the U.S. to do so.
Maybe Glenn’s wife could apply for naturalization without relying on the expeditious naturalization provisions. In other words, she can just prove that she has resided in the U.S. for the required period (3 years).
Glenn/Tony: Interesting point. The issue is that a naturalization applicant must reside continuously in the U.S. while the application is pending and up until it is granted. In this case, it looks like Glenn’s wife may move abroad before naturalization is granted, would could break the required period of continuous residence.
I am a US-born citizen. I work for IOM (the Migration Agency for the United Nations) in the Resettlement Support Center for USCIS under a contract which was signed with my second citizenship, Ecuador. I am not sure if I would qualify as “regularly stationed abroad” for purposes of my (future) husband’s naturalization because I am also an Ecuadorian citizen. If you could offer some insight. Thanks!
Pamela: Sorry for the delayed response. The “regularly stationed abroad” requirement turns on the scheduled length of your work abroad. Under existing authority, your dual citizenship doesn’t impact ability to meet this requirement.
Dear Gary: is a US-based international law firm’s China or Hong Kong offices “American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of U.S. foreign trade or commerce.”
Michael: It depends how the law firm is organized. See Part 3.2 above. For example, if the firm is organized as a partnership then for it to qualify as an “American firm,” 51% of the partners must be of U.S. nationality.
Thanks, Gary. I understand that “trade” should be interpreted “broadly” and “liberally”. The US firm’s China offices engages in works like bringing PRC companies to go to US for IPOs, cross-border MAs, etc. I believe such works should qualify for “engaged in foreign trade”, right? Thanks a lot. Michael
I’m confident that cross-border legal services to U.S. companies counts falls within the statutory definition of “trade” or “commerce.”
I am an American teaching English (ESL) at a foreign university. (I also studied Anthropology, so living abroad is part of my career path as an Anthropologist.)
I’m concerned about the Fang Lan Dankowski case mentioned above, which held that teaching does not count as the development of foreign trade or commerce.
Joseph: The Fang Lan Dankowski case, from 1973, predates the broader definition of trade or commerce under current law. We have successfully argued in a number of more recent cases that American-owned schools abroad do develop U.S. trade or commerce in that they export educational services.
I work as a professor for a small University in Canada which is owned by a Christian denomination in the US. Both the denomination and the university are non-profit corporations. Would the employer count engaged in U.S. foreign “trade and commerce” in the revised (1993) definition?
Matt: As mentioned below, expeditious naturalization is not limited to spouses of employees of FOR-PROFIT entities. The government has recognized that NONPROFIT entities too can engage in trade and commerce. Our firm has successfully obtained expeditious naturalization for the spouses of teachers at nonprofit universities.
Thanks for all the amazing content, Gary. My husband and I live outside the US with no intention of moving to the US anytime soon (probably in a few years), but we want to get him a US passport using expedited naturalization as you’ve described. He has his green card interview next week. Is there any problem in explicitly saying during that interview that his intention in applying for the green card is naturalization and not to actually live in the US? Is hiding this intention illegal?
Dear Donald: I am going to assume that you are a U.S. citizen and have filed with USCIS a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of your husband and that he is applying for an immigrant visa based on approval of the I-130. I’m going to also assume that you’ve determined you need to file a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, in support of the immigrant visa application. Let me know if my assumptions are incorrect. A requirement for most sponsors filing the I-864 is that the sponsor be domiciled in the U.S. or prove he intends to re-establish domicile in the U.S. not later than when the sponsored immigrant enters for the first time with the immigrant visa. An “exception” to that domicile requirement is that a U.S. citizen sponsoring a spouse may be able to prove that his job would be a qualifying one for purposes of expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Act, such as employment abroad for a U.S. company engaged in foreign trade or commerce, or its subsidiary. In short, the same job that may help your husband qualify for expeditious naturalization may also exempt you from the need to prove you are moving back to the U.S. For more on this, see https://lawandborder.com/i-864-affidavit-of-support-help-center/.
But to directly answer your question: There is no requirement that a family-sponsored immigrant visa applicant prove he intends to reside in the U.S.
Thanks! Your assumptions were all correct and I’ve read in great detail your article about domicile.
By the way, carefully reading the domicile issue, I wonder if working for a US company is sufficient to establish domicile if I’ve technically lost it. My situation is that I left the US to work for a non-US company and then moved elsewhere to work for a US company without returning to the US. Does working for the US company reestablish my US domicile?
Donald: Interesting question. The regulations say: “a citizen who is living abroad temporarily is considered to be domiciled in the United States if the citizen’s employment abroad meets the requirements of section 319(b)(1) of the Act.” 8 C.F.R. § 213a.2(c)(1)(ii)(A). That could be read to require not just proof of the nature of the employment but also separate proof that the citizen is living abroad temporarily. However, the I-864 instructions at p.5 (rev. 2015-07-02) say, “Some individuals employed overseas are automatically considered as domiciled in the United States because of the nature of their employment.” So these instructions do away with the separate inquiry as to temporariness. The instructions have the authority of regulations. The USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual at ch. 20.5(d)(2) also do away with the separate “temporariness” inquiry. The State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual at 9 FAM 302.8-2(B)(5)(a) and (b)(1) sends mixed messages about this.
Here’s my take: the term “temporary” has different meanings in immigration law depending on the context. For example, a B1/B2 visitor for business or pleasure must be coming to the U.S. for a “temporary” visit. It would be very hard for a B1/B2 visa applicant to convince a consular officer that a 5 year visit is “temporary” for this purpose. In contrast, for a stay abroad to be considered “temporary” for purposes of avoiding abandonment of permanent resident status, even an indefinite stay abroad may be OK if it is to work for a U.S. corporation or firm involved in the development of foreign trade or commerce, as discussed in Matter of Kane. (See here https://lawandborder.com/risk-abandoning-green-card-abroad-6-months/). That context is very similar to the I-864, so the term “temporary” should probably be interpreted the same in both places.
In sum, a person who works for a U.S. company abroad for 20 years probably counts as being abroad “temporarily” for I-864 purposes, at least so long as he intends to return to the U.S. upon completion of that work. In the case of a person who goes abroad on a non-temporary basis even before taking employment abroad for a U.S. company, he may still count as “domiciled” in the U.S. for I-864 purposes because the I-864 instructions seem to read the temporariness requirement out of the law.
Gary: Another thank you here for all the helpful information and insights you are providing. I have some questions that build off Donald (Feb 13, 2017), above.
I am a US citizen living currently overseas planning to get married to a foreign national with a question about whether taking employment by a US-based firm would allow us to proceed with the permanent residency process, as a factor in making decisions about whether to take the job.
I moved for a full-time job overseas 18 months ago. I was employed by a US-based firm involved in international development for just over a year, but we parted ways. I left that job six months ago and now am working as an independent consultant based overseas working in other locations overseas in part to stay with my fiancé, who lives in the same country and whose father has stage IV cancer, so my understanding is that I wouldn’t meet the domicile requirement for form I-864 to sponsor my wife. I own a house in Virginia, which currently is rented out. I pay taxes in the US, bank in the US, vote, and all the rest of my family (though not hers) live in the US. Income and assets should be no issue. My soon-to-be wife would like to begin the process of becoming a permanent resident and, ultimately, citizenship. I do plan to move back some day to the US, but not in a specifically-defined period, so I cannot apply as being currently domiciled in the US.
I have been offered a job in another country with a US-based firm working in international development on a contract that runs another three years. She likely would go with me but not herself be employed by a US corporation. Somewhere I read that “the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States” is interpreted broadly, so monitoring of international development (the foreign assistance type of development) projects should qualify. You wrote to another commenter that he would have to argue that he retains U.S. domicile by proving he is “regularly stationed abroad” and living abroad “temporarily,” and that the latter may be difficult to prove. However, for Donald under expeditious naturalization above, you wrote that “I-864 instructions at p.5 (rev. 2015-07-02) say, ‘Some individuals employed overseas are automatically considered as domiciled in the United States because of the nature of their employment.’”
Now for my questions: 1) Am I correct that currently I do not meet the domicile requirement for the petition for alien relative? 2) Can I confirm that based on your reading above, if I take the job with a new US employer, would it be easily argued without much pushback from USCIS, that I am therefore domiciled in the US? If USCIS did not read the form’s instructions the way you did, 3a) would I be able to argue I am “regularly stationed abroad,” or might that not fly after being employed by a new firm? 3b) Would I have to/be able to prove I was abroad “temporarily” due to the project ending in three years despite living abroad for another employer and without an employer for a while? 4) Assuming I proceeded through questions 2 and 3 successfully during the application process, would her timeline for naturalization proceed via a form N-470 while living overseas under expeditious naturalization even without an initial one-year continuous residency, at least toward meeting the requirement of 1.5 years of the 3-year continuous residence period? 5) Do I read you correctly that we would have to move to the US after the period abroad?
You are correct that if you are abroad on an indefinite basis that could be a challenge to meet the “domicile” requirement to qualify as a sponsor filing a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The general rule and special related provisions are discussed here.
You ask some questions about one of the special related provisions, U.S. citizens whose employment abroad for a U.S. company meets the requirements of section 319(b). You are correct that I explained to Donald my interpretation of relevant caselaw on how employment that meets the requirements of section 319(b) could count as “temporary” even though it is indefinite.
I would be interested in helping to answer your related questions. To do so, I would need to ask follow up questions, review related documents, and learn other facts which may be determinative. Before taking a new job in a new country specifically in order to try to obtain U.S. immigration benefits for your wife, it may be a good investment to schedule a consultation with our law firm or another qualified immigration attorney experienced in these matters.
I’m a LPR. My U.S. citizen spouse has now returned to the U.S. after teaching English in Turkey (my home country) for a year at a college, 52% of which was owned by a US firm. I’ve been outside the U.S. for over a year. Will I have any difficulty returning to the U.S. or qualifying for naturalization?
Irem: You don’t qualify for expeditious naturalization because your husband is no longer “regularly stationed abroad.” For information about potential difficulties returning to the U.S. after a prolonged stay abroad, see here. For information about naturalization eligibility after a prolonged stay abroad, see here.
Dear Mr. Chodorow,
My husband and I are currently living in South Africa. He was granted permanent residence, as a result of which we are planning an imminent return to the US. However, I (a US citizen) recently interviewed for a position with the UN in South Africa. If I am offered the job, we are hoping to apply for expedited naturalization.
I have two questions: 1) Does my husband need to be physically present in the US until the naturalization comes through; and 2) based on your experience, what is your estimate regarding how long the process takes from application?
Catherine: (1) An applicant for expeditious naturalization generally needs to be physically present in the U.S. only at two moments: for the interview and for the oath ceremony. (2) average processing time for naturalization cases is about 5-8 months. For more on application procedures, see our Guide to Naturalization in the United States, here.
Thank you so much for such a detailed post! All of your information is extremely helpful.
I am a LPR and my husband is a US citizen. I got my conditional green card in 2016. We will be moving to Europe shortly.
If my husband gets a job at a large American corporation abroad, let’s say Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and so on – would that satisfy this rule: “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States, or a subsidiary thereof”? Let’s say he will get a job at Microsoft in their Berlin office in Germany, would this be enough to qualify me for expeditious naturalization?
Thank you so much for your help!
Tereza: Microsoft’s annual report (SEC Form 10-K) shows that this is a U.S. public company in that it is incorporated in the state of Washington and traded exclusively on the NASDAQ. Microsoft also meets the requirement of being engaged in foreign trade and commerce in that it develops and markets software, services, and hardware devices worldwide.
Does conditional Permanent residence disqualify one from qualifying for expeditious naturalization?
Having conditional resident status isn’t disqualifying. See Part 4.1 of our Naturalization Guide.
My wife, Venezuelan, and I were married in 2011. I work for Chevron Corp. From 2011-2013 we lived in Colombia and 2013-2015 lived in Australia. Jan 2016 moved to the USA and she was granted Green Card. Currently waiting out the 3 year clock to apply for citizenship. Wondering if we can count the previous years working overseas for a US Corp as 319(b) time and apply for citizenship now?
Sorry, no. To apply, the U.S. citizen spouse must be “regularly stationed abroad” meaning currently working abroad or already scheduled to begin working abroad in the near future.
I am a US citizen, an overseas missionary sent (legally speaking, employed) by an American Christian denomination. My Peruvian wife and I have been married for nearly 14 years. We don’t usually visit the USA for more than a couple of months, so she has used the B1/B2 visitor visa since way back in 2005 (renewed in 2015). We’ve wanted to attempt to do the “expeditious naturalization” since quite a few years ago, but could never find enough detailed information about it feel confident moving forward. This article definitely helps!
My question is related though… do you know if its possible to switch from a B1/B2 visa to a LPR visa during a future visit to the States (with the help of an immigration attorney?), and then to quickly begin working on the expeditious naturalization paperwork before returning to our overseas field? Or MUST we apply for the LPR (Green Card) abroad first? Thank you!
Eugene: Your wife will need to become a permanent resident before applying for expeditious naturalization, but it is not important whether she does so by applying in the USCIS to USCIS with Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, or by applying to a U.S. Consulate abroad for an immigrant visa. Neither of these is “quick,” unfortunately.
Hi Gary, many thanks for your website. I have a few questions about 319(b):
1. What qualifies as “Regularly Stationed Abroad” in the context of “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part …”? Does the U.S. citizen spouse have to be employed in the U.S. by the American firm first before the employee transfers to work for them (or their subsidiary) abroad? Or can the relationship with the American firm be established abroad by getting (initially) hired outside of the U.S.?
2. Does it matter who initiates the idea for the U.S. citizen spouse to be stationed abroad? Does the employer have to seek to send or employ the spouse abroad, or can the employment abroad be pursued by the spouse (by either asking the firm to be transferred abroad – in case the spouse already works for the firm in the U.S., or – if not yet employed with the firm – by simply applying for a job with the firm at their office abroad)?
3. Does it matter what status the U.S. citizen spouse has in the foreign country? Does the spouse have to qualify as a U.S. citizen applying for a work permit in that country, or can the spouse use their dual citizenship and skip all the work permit procedures?
4. What constitutes “travel orders” as required by Form N-400 Instructions where it says to bring “Your U.S. citizen spouse’s travel orders which include your name as a spouse”? Would an ordinary offer letter (or contract of employment) at the American firm’s overseas office be enough, or are some sort of explicit “travel orders” to travel abroad indeed required? Also, an offer letter/contract of employment never mentions the employee’s spouse. It’s hard to imagine that a big corporation would be willing to customize such a document to include the employee’s spouse. How to overcome potential unwillingness of the firm’s HR department to include the spouse in the employment contract?
5. Given that the processing of N-400 can take a long time (and potentially end with a denial), is it recommended that the LPR spouse of the U.S. citizen spouse stationed abroad travels back to the U.S. at least once every 180 days (and/or apply for a reentry permit)?
Victor: Great questions.
1. No, the U.S. citizen need not have been employed in the U.S. by the American firm or corporation. Just abroad.
2. Similarly, the American firm or corporation doesn’t need to transfer the U.S. citizen abroad. It can be a local hire abroad.
3. The U.S. citizen’s immigration status in the country where the qualifying employment takes place is irrelevant.
4. “Travel orders” would be issued to U.S. government employees authorized to work abroad and their qualifying family members. Employees of American firms or corporations don’t typically have travel orders or need to submit them to qualify under section 319(b).
5. The foreign spouse does need to have a plan to avoid abandonment of LPR status. See generally LPR Living with a Citizen Spouse Employed Abroad by an American Company: Any Risk of Abandonment?
Thank you so much for this valuable article. I would appreciate your opinion on our situation. I am a Belgian citizen and green card holder (through marriage) and my wife is a US citizen. We moved abroad to Belgium and my wife started working at AON Plc.
I am just trying to understand if I am eligible to apply under the expeditious naturalization since AON used to be headquartered in the US but is now headquartered in London. It is a public limited company and trades stock both on NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange. CEO is an American. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aon_(company)
What evidence should we gather that would satisfy this requirement?
Thank you so much,
As mentioned in Part 4.1, a publicly traded corporation is considered to be an “American firm or corporation” if the applicant can demonstrate that the corporation is incorporated in the U.S. and trades its stock exclusively on the U.S. stock exchange. However, Aon PLC is organized under the laws of England and Wales, according to their most recent annual report filed with the SEC. And its stock is traded on the NYSE and LSE, according to the to the Wikipedia link you provide.
Thank you for your reponse. I have a quick follow up question to that. AON is a public limited company and after doing some research we found out that well over 51% of the shareholders are american corporations and insitutions. Would that give us a chance of proving AON to be considered and American corporation? AON was also orgiginally founded by a US citizen and had its headquarters in Chicago until 2012. Thank you!
First, the identity of the founder and the location of a prior headquarters isn’t relevant to whether a company counts as “American” for purposes of section 319(b).
Second, the fact that a majority of a company’s shareholders are American companies isn’t decisive. That’s because it’s the ultimate ownership that matters. In other words, what is the citizenship of the individuals who own the the companies that in turn own Aon? That’s probably difficult or impossible to figure out. Hence, the simplified alternative test I mentioned above that a company counts as American if incorporated (organized) in the U.S. and traded exclusively on a U.S. stock exchange. For more on this, see Matter of Chawathe (AAO 2010).
Thank you so much for this invaluable resource! I am a US citizen currently employed abroad by a listed public international organization so I believe my husband should be eligible for expeditious naturalization. He applied from abroad for legal permanent residency based on our marriage and he has just received his immigrant visa. My question now is how to prevent him from losing the LPR status. He needs to go to the US within the next six months to convert the immigrant visa into a green card, however, we want to continue living together abroad which seems to risk abandonment of the LPR status in spite of the expeditious naturalization process being designed to avoid this problem. Is applying for expeditious naturalization sufficient to maintain LPR status or should he apply for a re-entry permit? Even applying for a re-entry permit seems to require staying in the US for several months of processing.
Sikandra: Your husband’s options may well be to apply for expeditious naturalization, apply for a reentry permit, or do nothing. I’ve addressed this issue in an article: LPR Living with a Citizen Spouse Employed Abroad by an American Company: Any Risk of Abandonment?/. Our firm often counsels clients on such issues. Feel free to schedule a consultation.
I’m a US citizen living and doing business in Kenya (not for a US company). My wife is an LPR, having been so for the past 18 months, of which 9 months have been spent in the US with brief visits abroad interspersed. She is exploring a role with an American company’s Kenyan office. What would we need to do to (1) avoid lose any of the time already put in on her path towards naturalization, and (2) potentially reduce the required U.S. physical presence time.
Rick: Your wife should look at strategies for Maintaining Permanent Resident Status During Stays Abroadk, such as applying for a reentry permit. If she meets the requirements, she may also wish to file a Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.
My husband is a missionary abroad. He is also a US citizen. The organization he works for has 501c3 status in the USA but he works for the international branch of that organization. Do we qualify under such employment? We currently live abroad together.
Also, I am a US resident and I have had a lot of time outside of the US due to masters degree studies and religious volunteer work abroad. Would my extensive amount (never more than a year) of time outside of the US affect my 319b case even though continuous residence and physical presence is waived under 319b?
How does USCIS define a interdenominational mission organization?
To qualify for expeditious naturalization as a missionary, your citizen spouse need be employed by a U.S. entity. Instead, he must be (a) authorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization within the U.S.; or (b) engaged solely as a missionary with a religious denomination or an interdenominational mission organization having a bona fide organization within the U.S. INA § 319(b)(1)(B).
As to you, the potential naturalization applicant, time abroad as an LPR isn’t a problem so long as you didn’t abandon LPR status. For more on that, see Keeping Your Permanent Resident Status: Best Practices for Avoiding Abandonment.
First of all, thanks for an informative article! I understand the rules for expedited naturalization but I’m curious whether our somewhat unique situation would allow us to qualify. I’m a US citizen, my wife is LPR as of last August (2-year card), I’m a partner in a US-based LLC that has two partners/members altogether, both partners in the LLC are US-citizens, we provide software design services to US and European companies, we would like to explore more business opportunities overseas which means that I would have to move to Europe for two-plus years, and obviously I would want my wife to move with me. Our LLC currently does not have active contracts with an overseas company, but that could change either before or after we make the move. Any advice would be much appreciated!
If the assignment abroad is business-driven, sounds like it’s worth exploring expeditious naturalization eligibility. Feel free to schedule a consultation.
My wife and I have been married 12 years and lived abroad the whole time. We started a 501(C)3 Non-Profit to fund our christian ministry. I receive a salary from the non-profit, but not a w-2. I file taxes as self-employed. I am wondering if my wife and I qualify for the exemption. We really would like to get her citizenship now that her B-2 visa is expiring. Please advise. We can start a payroll and make me w-2 employed if that is necessary. But we have been solely supported by our non-profit at the executive director since 2011. Thank you,
Brian: There’s something I’m not understanding: If you are paid a salary by a nonprofit corporation, why do your taxes instead list you as self-employed? In any case, as mentioned above, you (the citizen spouse) may be either (a) “authorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination” or (b) “engaged solely as a missionary by a religious denomination or by an interdenominational mission organization”. Those terms are defined above. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, it would be a pleasure to advise you.
Thank you for this incredible information. My husband has been working in Germany when she petitioned me last 2017. He works for the Department of Defense. So I flew from the Philippines to Germany and have never lived in the US. However, we applied for my LPR and got granted so we had to visit the US last Dec.19, 2019 for my port of entry to get my green card. We just stayed there for 10 days and had to fly back to Germany and then never visited the US again for over a year now due to covid. I applied my N400 under section 319 (b) last July 2019 and then now I got my interview schedule this end of January. I am worried that I am going to have any problem in the immigration border. Do they need a specific documents in this kind of situation? What do I need to provide them?
Jane: A special rule applies here: Unlike most LPRs who must can only use an I-551 (green card) for entry “if seeking readmission after a temporary absence of less than one year,” spouses of USG employees have a different rule:
8 CFR § 211
(a) General. … [E]ach arriving alien applying for admission (or boarding the vessel or aircraft on which he or she arrives) into the United States for lawful permanent residence, or as a lawful permanent resident returning to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the United States, shall present one of the following:
(2) A valid, unexpired Form I–551, Permanent Resident Card, if seeking readmission after a temporary absence of less than 1 year, or in the case of a crewmember regularly serving on board a vessel or aircraft of United States registry seeking readmission after any temporary absence connected with his or her duties as a crewman;
(6) A Form I–551, whether or not expired, presented by a civilian or military employee of the United States Government who was outside the United States pursuant to official orders, or by the spouse or child of such employee who resided abroad while the employee or serviceperson was on overseas duty and who is preceding, accompanying or following to join within 4 months the employee, returning to the United States.
Hello Mr. Chodorow,
I am a US citizen and I have been offered a position working for my company (US firm) in Europe, starting in June.
My wife is a conditional LPR and her 2-year Green Card expires in August.
I believe that based on the fact that I would be working for a US owned company abroad, my wife qualifies for expeditious naturalization.
I have a couple of questions:
– Since her 2-year Green Card expires after we are set to leave for Europe, does she still need to apply for the removal of conditions (I-751) or should she apply for expeditious naturalization instead?
– If she does have to apply for the removal of conditions, since we won’t be living in the US starting in June, should we apply in May (within the 90 day of her Green Card expiration) while we are still in the US? Or can she apply for the removal of conditions using a foreign physical address and foreign mailing address?
1. The mere filing of an N-400 doesn’t release a CR from the requirement to file an I-751. It’s only the approval of an N-400 and taking the oath of allegiance before the 90-day window opens for filing the I-751 that releases a CR from the I-751 filing requirement. 12 USCIS-PM G.5(C)(2).
2. An I-751 can be filed while the CR is abroad. But I urge clients to use a U.S. mailing address to improve the odds of receiving notices from USCIS timely.
I am a US citizen working for an American tech startup in Norway that is financed by American venture capital firms. My wife is an LPR with an approved re-entry permit, but would like to apply for expeditious naturalization here, if possible.
If I can provide documentation that the American venture capital firms own >51% of the company I work for, and can show that the owners of those VC firms are American citizens, is expeditious naturalization a viable path for us? Are there any other factors I should consider?
Thank you so much for all your advice here!
Kenny–Here’s a sample calculation:
Startup owners: Jim 10% (foreigner), Jane 30% (foreigner), VC Firm 60%
VC Firm owners: Stan (U.S. citizen) 60%, Samantha (foreigner) 10%, Steve 30% (U.S. citizen)
What % of the startup is owned by U.S. citizens? 60% * (60% + 30%) = 54%
Thanks for the great resources on your website. Could you please comment on the status of joint ventures between US universities and foreign universities? For example, if the US citizen works for Duke Kunshan University or NYU Shanghai, would the accompanying LPR spouse qualify for expedious naturaliation?
Chris, my understanding is that these two schools are not U.S. entities or their subsidiaries (i.e., owned > 50% by U.S. entities). But we can still help with expeditious naturalization if the U.S. citizen spouse is employed directly by a U.S. entity (e.g., Duke or NYU) but posted overseas.
I am the spouse of a U.S. citizen and have permanent residency.
We both resided abroad where I worked for what I feel is;
“an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the U.S., or a subsidiary thereof;”
for a period of 3 years, would I be eligible to apply for naturalization if the employer meets the requirements despite me not being physically present in the U.S. for 1.5 years?
Or is this just the case if the U.S. citizen is employed by such a firm?
Zishaan: Expeditious naturalization is only available to an LPR if their U.S. citizen spouse has the requisite employment abroad. But if you, an LPR, are employed by a qualifying entity abroad, you may qualify to preserve continuous residence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization. For more on that, see https://lawandborder.com/guide-naturalization-united-states/#Use_of_the_Form_N-470_to_Preserve_Continuous_Residence.
Many thanks for the quick response Gary, that’s what I had suspected & interpreted from the rules.
On the continuous residence I’m good as I have continually been making trips to the U.S. not exceeding 6 months away at a time but appreciate the guidance on that. I’m just looking to complete the physically present condition now.
When is it safe for the LPR spouse to leave the U.S.? When the USCIS has started the initial paperwork and has taken the payment, after the fingerprints are taken, or is there some other assurance from the USCIS that everything seems OK in the naturalization application under section 319(b)?
Rado: USCIS provides no advance assurance that the N-400 is approvable. Applicants must wait for the decision. Many applicants schedule a consultation with our firm to get our analysis of whether a potential application will be approvable. Also, to protect their LPR status, some clients will apply for a reentry permit before moving abroad. For more on that, please see Guide to Reentry Permits.
I am a US citizen working abroad for Schlumberger, an oilfield services company. My company says they cannot establish that the company is 51% American. Does that mean it doesn’t count as an “American corporation”?
Masud: As mentioned above, a publicly traded corporation is considered to be an “American firm or corporation” if the applicant can demonstrate that the corporation is incorporated in the U.S. and trades its stock exclusively on the U.S. stock exchange. The 2021 Form 10-K Annual Report for Schlumberger N.V. (Schlumberger Limited) shows that it is traded exclusively on the New York Stock Exchange but that the company is incorporated in Curacao, not the U.S. That particular company, then, is not an “American firm or corporation” for purposes of expeditious naturalization.