Permanent Residency Rule: How It Works When Applying for Naturalization

US application for naturalization and passportIn order to become a naturalized American citizen, there are many complicated rules and hurdles that must be overcome, like the Permanent Residency Rule. Failure to meet all the requirements can lead to a denial of your application for naturalization and, in extreme cases, to loss of residency status. In other words, at best, one might have to start the process over again, and, at worst, one may be facing expulsion from the United States.

To avoid any mistakes, an applicant for naturalization must have legal advice at every stage of the process and must take care to file all required forms and documents when applying for naturalization. If you are in the process of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States, or if you want to apply for naturalization, you should consult an attorney, whether in person or by seeking an online immigration lawyer.

General Requirements for Citizenship

To apply for citizenship, an applicant must be:

  • At least 18 years of age;
  • Of good moral character;
  • Able to pass a test in the English language;
  • Able to pass a test of general knowledge about American government, history, and culture;
  • Demonstrate loyalty to the American Constitution and
  • Take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

Most of these requirements are not difficult to meet or understand, and to pass the examinations, one can find study guides and sample tests online or in local libraries.

There is, however, one additional rule of naturalization that often confuses applicants and which can often lead to denials of citizenship applications. That is the permanent residency rule.

Permanent Residency Rule and Naturalization

In order to become a naturalized citizen, an applicant must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States continuously for five years before applying for citizenship. In addition, you must have been a resident of the state in which you are applying for naturalization for three months. If you have lived in the United States continuously for five years and in your current state of residence for three months, you may file Form N-400, “Application for Naturalization.”

The five-year “continuous residency” rule requires that an applicant remains in the United States without leaving for more than six months. The applicant must also have been physically present in the United States for thirty months out of five years before applying. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website has a time calculator which can help an applicant determine the earliest date upon which they can file for naturalization.

In other words, if the applicant has left the United States for more than six months at a time, and has not been present for thirty months out of the sixty months before applying for naturalization, then the continuous residency requirement has been broken, and the applicant may face difficulty in getting the N-400 application approved.

The only exception to the continuous residency rule is for some applicants who work overseas or serve in the United States military. Individuals who serve in the United States military have a different path to naturalization that they can pursue. An experienced naturalization and immigration lawyer can explain the distinctions between the two processes.

Legal Help from an Immigration Lawyer in Lakeland When Applying for Naturalization

If you require the services of an immigration lawyer in Lakeland, Florida, consult the Espinoza Law Offices. We handle all aspects of immigration law, including applications for naturalization, deferred inspections and applications, representation before the Immigration Court, and appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Our attorneys thoroughly understand the immigration laws of the United States and have assisted countless clients in assembling the documents and filings necessary to gain citizenship. If you are in the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, contact us today for a consultation.