A U.S. Citizen Working Abroad Asks about Expeditious Naturalization for Her Husband

Your Questions AnsweredJuliana and her husband both work abroad at a U.S. Embassy. She writes to ask about her husband’s eligibility for “expeditious naturalization”:

I am a U.S. citizen, and I would like to petition for my husband. We both work at 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?

Well, Juliana, 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. Other types of qualifying employment include working for: an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General;  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; a public internaitonal organization in which the U.S. participates by treaty or statute; or certain work as a minister, priest, or missionary;

(b) your husband 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 qualifying employment abroad.

The key authorities are INA section 319(b)(1) and 8 CFR Part 319. For more on expeditious naturalization, see Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad.

Note that if your husband meets the requirements for expeditious naturalization, he would not be required to fulfill the normal continuous residence, physical presence, and state or district residence requirements to become an American citizen.

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 interview. 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.

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