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After submitting your Form N-400 application (Application for Naturalization), you may wonder if you can travel abroad pending the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decision on your application. The USCIS imposes no travel restrictions on green card holders. As a legal permanent resident, you can travel abroad and return using a valid permanent resident card.
Although there are no restrictions, there are some disadvantages to going abroad. Knowing the ways your travel may affect your naturalization application is essential. An experienced immigration lawyer from Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, can help you avoid obstacles that may affect your N-400 application.
Read on to learn more about some travel requirements relating to naturalization & citizenship.
There are three appointments you must attend after filing your naturalization application, including:
Biometrics appointment: This allows the USCIS to take your fingerprints and photographs. They will confirm your identity and run security and background checks on you. It may take several weeks after filing to receive your biometrics appointment notice.
Naturalization interview: It gives the USCIS officer a chance to ask questions about your application. Additionally, you may be required to take an English and civics test. The English test assesses your ability to read, write, and speak English. You are tested on your civics knowledge of the U.S. government and history in the Civics test.
Oath ceremony: This is the last step in the naturalization process. You must attend this process before you can become an American citizen. You will need to return your green card before you can receive your naturalization certificate.
Upon taking the Oath, the new citizen agrees to fulfill the following duties:
Defend the US Constitution and laws against foreign threats.
Rescind allegiance to any other nation or sovereign, as well as any hereditary or noble titles you may have.
Provide military or civilian service as required by the government.
The USCIS will send appointment notices by mail with the date and location of your appointment. You may reschedule your appointment date if you are briefly traveling abroad. However, rescheduling your appointments may significantly delay your application process. Failing to reschedule or appear for your appointment may lead to USCIS denying your application.
USCIS imposes no limit on how many times you can file a naturalization application. But, you will have to pay the processing fee each time you submit a new Form N-400.
To qualify for naturalization in the U.S., you must meet the continuous residence requirement. To qualify for a marriage green card, you must have lived in the U.S. continuously for three years. For regular green card holders, five years of continuous residency is required. USCIS determines continuous residence based on your date of admission until the present.
Your continuous residency in the U.S. may be broken if:
You are absent from the country for more than six months but less than a year
You travel outside the U.S. for more than a year
Your continuous residence may be broken if you have multiple absences of less than six months. You must, therefore, be careful about the amount of time you spend abroad.
You must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half the time your continuous residence is required. This means you must show physical presence for at least thirty months before filing Form N-400. If you have a marriage green card, you must show physical presence for at least eighteen months.
Having a green card does not prove physical presence. You must show actual physical presence through documentation such as employment records.
Generally, permanent residents do not need a re-entry permit to go abroad for short periods of time. Obtaining a re-entry permit before leaving abroad is, however, a requirement if you plan to travel for an extended period of time.
A re-entry permit establishes that you do not intend to abandon status. The USCIS issues re-entry permits, which are valid for two years from the date of issuance. They are renewable if the traveler continues to meet the permit’s requirements.
For a re-entry permit, you will need to schedule a biometrics appointment. So, you must apply for your re-entry permit on time.
A re-entry permit does not guarantee entry into the country. On arrival at the port of entry, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will ask questions about your trip. If they suspect you have abandoned your status, they may deny you entry into the United States.
You may apply for an SB-1 (returning resident) visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy near you if you fail to obtain a re-entry permit or stay outside the U.S. beyond the 2-year validity period.
For many immigrants, becoming a citizen of the United States is a significant milestone in their lives. If one trip abroad affects your ability to naturalize, it could be devastating.
It is essential to be well-informed before leaving for a trip abroad. The immigration attorneys at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, are proficient in the intricacies of the naturalization process. We are aware of any challenges you might encounter.
When you travel, our legal team can update you on appointments and receive mail on your behalf. Throughout your trip, we will monitor your application and communicate with USCIS on your behalf.
Call Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, to schedule a free consultation with a K-3 nonimmigrant visa lawyer today.