Certain classes of naturalization applicants are eligible to count time residing abroad towards meeting the requirement of “continuous residence” in the United States.
The table below serves as a quick reference guide on certain “continuous residence” and “physical presence” provisions for persons residing abroad under qualifying employment.
|Employer or Vocation||Provision||Continuous Residence||Physical Presence|
|U.S. government or contractor||INA 316(b)INA 316(c)||Preserves residence through N-470 process||Exempt through N-470 process|
|American institution of research||INA 316(b)INA 316(c)||“||Must meet regular statutory requirement|
|American firm||INA 316(b)INA 316(c)||“||Must meet regular statutory requirement|
|Religious duties||INA 317||“||Time residing abroad while performing religious duties may count as physical presence in the U.S.|
Employee of U.S. Government or Specified Entities
Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who have been continuously physically present in the United States for at least one year before filing an application to preserve residence and who obtain approval of the application from USCIS for employment by or contract with the U.S. government abroad will not break the continuity of their residence during such time abroad. Such persons are exempt from the physical presence requirement. Persons employed by or under contract with the Central Intelligence Agency can accrue the required year of continuous physical presence at any time prior to applying for naturalization and not just before filing the application to preserve residence.
LPRs who have been continuously physically present in the United States for at least one year before filing an application to preserve residence and who obtain approval of the application from USCIS for employment abroad by an American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General (now DHS Secretary) or by an American firm engaged in development of U.S. foreign trade and commerce or its subsidiary, or a public international organization, will not break the continuity of their residence during such time abroad. Such applicants are subject to the physical presence requirement.
Only applicants who are employed by or under contract with the U.S. government may be exempt from the physical presence requirements. All other applicants who are eligible to preserve their residence remain subject to the physical presence requirement.
The applicant’s spouse and dependent unmarried sons and daughters, included in the application, are entitled to the same benefits for the period during which they were residing abroad with the applicant.
Person Performing Religious Duties
Qualifying Religious Duties
An LPR who travels outside of the United States temporarily may treat such time outside of the United States as continuous residence and physical presence in the United States for naturalization purposes in cases where the LPR was outside of the United States for the sole purpose of:
- Performing the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination with a bona fide organization within the United States; or
- Serving as a missionary, brother, nun, or sister who was engaged solely by a religious denomination or interdenominational mission having a bona fide organization within the United States.
Applicants must have been physically present and residing within the United States for an uninterrupted period of at least 1 year before filing the naturalization application in order to qualify for naturalization. While the applicant must establish 1 year of uninterrupted physical presence, he or she may comply with this requirement at any time before filing the naturalization application, after becoming an LPR.
Application to Preserve Residence
The LPR must file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes (Form N-470) in order for USCIS to consider whether the LPR qualifies to preserve continuous residence and physical presence while outside of the United States.
The Form N-470 may be filed before, during, or after an absence from the United States for qualifying religious duties, even if the absence lasted for more than 1 year. The applicant need not comply with the 1-year physical presence requirement mentioned above before filing Form N-470. However, the N-470 must be approved before USCIS can approve the naturalization application.