Naturalization Overview

PLI Basic Immigration Law, March 2013

N-400 Eligibility

  • 18 years of age
  • Lawfully admitted to Permanent Residence
  • Continuous Residence for statutory period
  • Physical Presence for ½ statutory period
  • Good Moral Character
  • Speak, read & write basic English
  • Pass a test of U.S. civics & history
  • Willing to swear Oath of Allegiance

Statutory Eligibility Period

  • 5 years, per INA §316(a) – 90% of applicants
  • 3 years, per INA §319(a) – married to, & “living in marital union with” US citizen spouse
  • May file up to 3 months before eligibilityBasis of Permanent Residence
  • A person not lawfully admitted to PR is barred from naturalization under INA §318AND
  • Subject to rescission, if within 5 years
  • Subject to removalContinuous Residence
  • Required for full 5-year/3-year period
  • In same state for at least 3 months
  • Actual primary abode, not domicile“Living Together In Marital Union”Under §319(a), must show continuous residence living with USC spouse for whole 3 years
      • Leases/mortgage statements
      • Joint tax returns
      • Insurance policies
      • Bills, bank statementsExceptions: a) Involuntary Separationb) VAWABreaks in Continuous Residence


        Abandonment of LPR:

        • Non-Resident Tax Return raises rebuttable presumption per 8 CFR §316.5(c)(2)
        • 1 year + outside U.S.

    Red Flags for Broken Continuity:

      • Re-Entry Permit
      • Job or Family Abroad, factors at §316.5(c)(1)(i)
      • Commuter aliens

      INA §316(b):Rebuttable presumption >6 month absence

      Physical Presence


  • Required for ½ the statutory period
  • Travel days partly in U.S. count as “present”
  • All periods of honorable military service, even overseas, count as “present” in U.S.Good Moral Character
  • Statutory bars at INA §101(f)
  • Regulatory bars at 8 CFR §316.10
  • Non-criminal bars –The “D” list: Drunkards, Deserters, Deadbeat dads,Draft-dodgers, Dudes who Didn’t register & Destroyers of marriagesCrimes & Good Moral Character
  • When was the offense, conviction & any restraint on liberty?
  • Is the applicant removable?
  • Was the person inadmissible after travel?
  • CIMT? Aggravated felony? Firearms?Is Client Already a Citizen?
  • Birth in US (jus soli)
  • Through a parent’s US citizenship (jus sanguinis)
  • Child Citizenship Act (INA §322) Automatic Acquisition or Expedited Naturalization – as of Feb 27, 2001
  • Through naturalization of parent: per law in effect on child’s Date of BirthFalse Claims to U.S. Citizenship
  • Willful misrepresentation to one making a legitimate inquiry, per 18 USC §911, or
  • With intent to vote or obtain government benefit, per 18 USC §1015
  • After Sept. 30, 1996, includes claims to private parties to gain any benefit, e.g. Form I-9
  • May also fall within INA §101(f)(6), INA §212(a)(6)(C)(ii), INA §237(a)(3)(D)English language & civics test
  • Language Exemptions: 55/15 & 50/20 rules at INA §312(b)(2)
  • “Special Consideration” for 65/20at INA §312(b)(3) – reduced list of questions
  • Medical Waivers: Form N-648 signed by Dr. w/ DSM code & written explanationU.S. Government
  • Basic knowledge of U.S. history & civics
  • Attached to the principles of the Constitution
  • Well-disposed to good order & happiness of the U.S.
  • Willing to bear arms, perform non-combat service, or do work of national importance
  • Swear oath of allegiance to the U.S.

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