The United States government has many individuals working abroad to further the country’s interests. Because of the international environment these individuals are operating in, there is a higher likelihood that they will meet a foreign person who eventually becomes their husband or wife. To make things easier on these professionals, the government has an expedited naturalization process for their spouses. Here is what you need to know about the process.
Who is eligible?
You must be a foreign national who is a permanent resident in the United States and be married to a citizen. It is crucial that the foreign-born spouse has entered the United States legally and has permanent resident status.
In addition, one of the following must be true:
- The spouse is joining the employee on an overseas assignment. In this situation naturalization cannot take place more than 45 days prior to departure from the United States.
- The spouse is currently at an overseas post with the employee and, upon completion of naturalization on United States soil, must depart the United States within 30 to 45 days to join the Foreign Service spouse at the overseas post.
To qualify, the applicant’s United States citizen spouse must work for US government, military, research institution, corporation, or church, namely:
- the United States Government
- an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
- an American firm or corporation engaged in foreign trade or commerce, or a subsidiary thereof
- a public international organization, such as the United Nations or subsidiary body
- a religious denomination that has a bona fide organization in the United States
The Application Process
The application process is similar to that for standard naturalization, but actually has fewer restrictions. For example, there is no continuous residence requirement with expedited naturalization as there is with standard naturalization. The applicant will still have to go through the naturalization interview and show proficiency with the English language and with United States civics.
In addition to the Application for Naturalization (N-400), the applicant will have to provide:
- Evidence of spouse’s United States citizenship
- Evidence of citizen spouse’s employment abroad
- Evidence of a valid marriage
- Evidence of applicant’s intent to reside abroad with his or her spouse and return to the United States upon termination of qualifying employment
- Copy of the applicant’s birth certificate
Once you have become a permanent resident (for example, by entering the United States with an immigrant visa), you may apply for naturalization under the Immigration and Nationality Act section 319(b). You will be filing under a specific field office, so keep in mind that processing times vary from office to office. USCIS publishes field office processing times on its website.
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