Expedited naturalization is available to certain spouses of U.S. citizens who are employed outside the United States. Whereas most naturalization applicants must demonstrate residence in the U.S. for either 3 or 5 years after obtaining lawful permanent residence (a “green card”), and physical presence in the U.S. for at least one-half of that time, expedited naturalization does not have either a residence or a physical presence requirement. Under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, expedited naturalization is available to the noncitizen spouse of a U.S. citizen who is “regularly stationed abroad” in the employ of:
- the U.S. government, including the U.S. armed forces
- a recognized American research institution
- an American firm or corporation engaged, in whole or in part, in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States
- a public international treaty organization, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Radio Free Europe, the Global Fund, etc.
- is a minister or a priest of a religious denomination that has a bona fide organization in the U.S.
- is a missionary for a religious denomination that has a bona fide organization in the U.S.
The U.S. citizen spouse must demonstrate that he or she has at least one year remaining on the contract or employment agreement with the qualifying entity, and the noncitizen spouse must make a good faith declaration of intent to reside in the United States immediately upon the termination of the U.S. citizen spouse’s employment abroad.
Expedited naturalization is a tremendously beneficial option for those individuals who qualify, because the noncitizen spouse does not have to accrue any time as a permanent resident – does not even have to hold a green card – and does not have to show any period of physical presence in the U.S. prior to applying. Moreover, for permanent residents who have been outside the U.S. for over a year, and who would otherwise break the continuity of their residence and thus be barred from citizenship, the bar is waived (other than for ministers and missionaries) and the applicant can proceed without delay to expedited naturalization.
Benach Collopy attorneys have extensive experience in obtaining expedited naturalization for clients whose spouses are employed by the U.S. military, by the U.S. government in diplomatic or other postings, by U.S. companies doing business abroad, by American research institutions, and by various different international treaty organizations.
Please contact us to talk about expedited naturalization.