Moments after you apply for U.S. citizenship via naturalization, your mind probably turns to one thing—nailing the citizenship test. Studying flashcards for the 100 civics questions is indeed vital to becoming a citizen, but the process of naturalization can be much more complex, especially when it comes to travel.
Before you can apply to become a citizen of the United States, you must be a continuous resident, which requires you to be a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years before the date of filling out the form for naturalization. In addition, any trips you take abroad must be less than 6 months. So, once you apply to become a citizen, do the same travel restrictions apply?
After filing for naturalization (Form N-400), the continuous residence requirement is still in effect, meaning you can travel abroad for a maximum of 6 months at a time. Trips should be kept short though, as there are typically 3 mandatory appointments for candidates: biometrics (fingerprints), the naturalization interview/test and the oath ceremony. Although you can reschedule, it is suggested you do not miss these appointments due to travel. Typically, after your biometrics appointment, you’ll have about 4-6 months, which should leave plenty of time for a short trip.
In addition, you should not exploit the continuous residence requirement. Although you can technically leave for 6 months, come back for a week and then leave for another 6 months, the ASCIS may not see this favorably.
U.S. armed forces, government employees, researchers, religious workers and certain business travelers are exempt from the continuous residence requirement. Applicants who wish to be exempt must file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes and meet the following criteria:
- Applicant must be physically present in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident a year prior to working abroad.
- N-470 application must be filed beforethe applicant has been abroad for one year.
If you or someone you know is going through the naturalization process, you should enlist the legal help of our Los Angeles immigration attorneys from the Law Offices of Elsa Martinez immediately.
Call (213) 985-4550 or contact us online to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.