How to Travel Safely With a U.S Naturalization Application Pending
Updated: Apr 18
By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
An application for U.S. naturalization doesn’t have to stop you from hopping on a flight to Bali, Paris, or any other amazing destination.
For green card holders with a U.S naturalization application in process, the idea of leaving the United States can be scary.
You may fear that your journey will have an adverse effect on your application or possibly impede you from reentering the country. However, with the right guidance, it is possible to travel without worry. To make sure your overseas trip goes smoothly while a naturalization request is pending here are some helpful tips.
If you'd like to have an experienced immigration lawyer review your situation for issues, you can skip the reading, and request a consultation immediately.
Can You Travel While Your Naturalization Application is Pending?
Yes, you can. But before you go that route, there are a few important things to take into account.
1. Fingerprint Appointment and Interview
When filing for naturalization, one must take the timing of international travel into account. After filing your U.S. naturalization application (N-400), USCIS will book you for a biometrics appointment to have your fingerprints taken.
The fingerprints must be taken in the United States. This means that if you are traveling, you must return for your biometrics appointment. Alternatively, you can try to reschedule your biometrics appointment, but understand that this rescheduling could result in a delay in your naturalization case.
After you've completed your biometrics appointment, you will be scheduled for an interview with a USCIS officer. This interview also takes place within the United States. This meeting may take place several months after submitting your application due to processing times and USCIS officers' availability in the region.
If you intend to travel internationally while your naturalization application is still pending, make sure that you are available for your biometrics appointment and interview. Your failure to appear for your naturalization interview could result in a denial of your application.
2. Maintaining “Continuous Residence”
When applying to become a U.S. citizen, the length of time you have resided in the country , maintaining continuous residence are vital components that must be taken into account before traveling abroad. Naturalization eligibility requires applicants to maintain continuous residence even while the naturalization application is pending. As a practical matter, this usually means avoiding trips outside of the United States for six continuous months or longer.
3. Maintaining Enough “Physical Presence”
To successfully naturalize in the United States, you must not only fulfill the continuous residency requirement but also prove that you have been physically present in the United States for at least half of your time as a U.S. legal permanent resident.
For instance, if you gained permanent residency five years ago, then for that period of time you must have been residing physically within the United States for at least two and a half years. If your stay outside the USA was extended, this condition may not be fulfilled which means that naturalization could be denied to you.
Note: the physical presence requirement must be met both a) at the time of submission of your U.S. naturalization application and b) at your U.S. naturalization interview. Therefore, if you are traveling internationally, you must make sure you do not fall afoul of the physical presence requirement while your application is pending.
4. Video Explainer
5. Request a Consultation With Malakouti Law
Traveling internationally while your naturalization application is still pending is possible, but it requires careful consideration of the factors mentioned above, such as your biometrics appointment and interview, continuous residence, and physical presence. By keeping careful track of these factors, you can safely travel and still ensure that your naturalization application remains on track.
Once you’ve successfully naturalized in the United States, your freedom of movement opens up dramatically. You can request a U.S. passport, with visa-free access to 180+ countries, and as a U.S. citizen, you can stay outside of the U.S. for however long you’d like.
To have your situation screened for particular issues or to discuss being represented in your naturalization process, you can request a consultation with Malakouti Law here.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.