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Legal Permanent Residents who wish to become U.S. Citizens may apply for Naturalization if they meet all the Naturalization requirement under the law.

A Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) who has resided continuously in the U.S. for a period of five years may apply for Citizenship by proving the qualifying residency, moral character, complying with the biometric requirments, passing a citizenship test,  and being approved at an interview.

An LPR who is married to a USC and has resided in the U.S. continuously for three years may apply for citizenship by proving the qualifying residency, marital status, moral character, complying with the biometric requirments, passing a citizenship test, and being approved at an interview.

Naturalization is generally a three-fold process.  First, the Applicant must file a Form with relevant Official Fee and supporting documentation, demonstrating that the Applicant meets all preliminary requirements under the Statute.  Next, the Applicant must appear for a Biometric Examination. Finally, the Applicant is scheduled to attend a personal interview where a civics examination  is administered, in English, (unless under very limited circumstances he or she is not required to do so in English).  If the Field Office has concurrent Citizenship Oath Ceremonies then the Applicant can conclude the process on the same day – if not, the Applicant will be scheduled a date for a Citizenship Oath Ceremony.

Legal Permanent Residents should apply for Citizenship at the earliest available opportunity.  

An LPR must meet U.S. residency requirements, and may not reside continuously outside of the United States for a period of more than one year without first obtaining a Reentry Permit,  An LPR who makes a trip abroad even after 20 years of Permanent Residency is still subject to the residency requirement, and if the LPR remains outside of the U.S. for more than one year, or more than two years if in possession of a valid Reentry Permit, his or her Legal Permanent Residency shall be deemed abandoned.  This can have particularly harsh repercussions after long and continuous residency previously applied and where family or financial interests remain in the U.S.  

If, the prolonged absence was for reasons beyond the LPRs control, he or she may apply to a U.S. Consulate abroad for a Returning Resident status.  If the Consul approves the Application then the Returning Resident will be obliged to provide documentation similar to that of any Immigrant Visa Applicant.  He or she must also attend a Visa Immigration Interview, obtain relevant Police Certificates and meet Medical Examination requirements.

U.S. Citizens, on the other hand, have no such legal obligation and are free to reside permanently or temporarily anywhere in the world without jeopardizing their Citizenship.  

A Guide to Naturalization can be found at the USCIS internet site.

Visa and Immigration Attorney specializing and Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship should be consulted for procedural issues, legal advice, and assistance in filing Naturalization Applications to a USCIS Office. .


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