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Can You Travel Outside Us While Awaiting Citizenship | Can I Travel Internationally After I Apply For Citizenship? Top 68 Best Answers

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Normally, travel during citizenship process is permitted. Since by the time of application, you are already a permanent US resident/green cardholder, you are allowed to travel while you await your citizenship.You may travel to another country, including your home country, provided no other legal impediment precludes you from doing so. However, if a trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you have not continuously resided in the United States and therefore are ineligible for naturalization.There are no travel restrictions after filling out Form N-400, which is the Application for Naturalization. That’s because, as a green card holder, you are already a permanent resident, which allows you to travel abroad while your application is pending.

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This video and its content is for general information purposes only. It is not legal advice or opinion nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You should not rely upon this information without seeking legal counsel. We attempt to provide accurate information but we do not warrant or guarantee the timeliness, completeness, or accuracy of any information presented herein or in any linked video. I disclaim all liability with respect to actions taken based on any information presented. Every case is different and outcomes will vary depending on the unique facts and legal issues of your case. Attorney advertisement.

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Commonly Asked Questions About the Naturalization Process

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Can I travel outside US while waiting for citizenship?

You may travel to another country, including your home country, provided no other legal impediment precludes you from doing so. However, if a trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you have not continuously resided in the United States and therefore are ineligible for naturalization.

Can you travel while citizenship pending?

There are no travel restrictions after filling out Form N-400, which is the Application for Naturalization. That’s because, as a green card holder, you are already a permanent resident, which allows you to travel abroad while your application is pending.

Can I travel outside the US while waiting for my green card?

Traveling abroad while awaiting your green card

The travel document allows someone living in the U.S. while awaiting their green card to travel abroad without nullifying their green card application. For a family-based green card, it takes anywhere from 10 months to several years or more to process a green card.

What is the current wait time for US citizenship?

How long does it take to become a U.S. citizen? The national average processing time for naturalization (citizenship) applications is 14 months.

Can I travel outside the US before oath ceremony?

After the interview and before the oath, you will still have your non-US passport and your permanent residency card. You can travel internationally and return to the USA as a permanent resident with that documentation. You do not become a US citizen until you swear the oath. Do not miss the ceremony.

Can you travel after n400 interview?

Even if you are done with your naturalization interview, you will only be a permanent resident until you attend the oath ceremony and receive your naturalization certificate. Hence, you can travel abroad as a Green Card holder, while your U.S. citizenship application is pending.

How long does it take to get citizenship after filing N 400?

The current average processing time for Form N-400 is around 6-24 months (as of August 2022). Generally, however, the speed of processing depends on the USCIS field office handling the application, and some applicants can get a head start on the process (see “Filing Early” below).

Can I travel abroad after oath ceremony?

You will not be able to travel abroad until you have your U.S. passport. Please allow sufficient time between your ceremony and any planned travel to receive your passport. In addition to your Certificate of Naturalization, a passport serves as evidence of citizenship.

Can I fly with a green card and no passport?

To travel, you usually need your permanent resident card, a valid passport, and whatever visas are required by the country you intend to visit. While the US does not require permanent residents to have a valid passport to re-enter the US, foreign countries and airlines require you to have a passport.

Can I travel outside US while I 140 is pending?

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Can I travel to the US while my application for an immigrant visa is being processed?

Can I travel to the United States while my application for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is being processed. If you intend taking up permanent residence in the United States, you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is issued.

Can I Travel During the Naturalization Process?

You’ve been waiting for this period for more than five years! Now it’s here, but you have some plans to travel abroad. But can you really travel during the naturalization process? Read on to get more facts and answers.

After being a permanent US resident for over five years, you are all fired-up to apply for US citizenship.

You want to get over with the neutralization process and acquire your citizenship.

But, one thing that bothers most people, is how their traveling plans will be affected – will they be able to travel during the naturalization process, and if so, how will it affect their application?

Well, when applying for naturalization, it means that you’ve already been a permanent US resident for a minimum of 5 years.

During this time, you have been traveling abroad as a green card holder, with your travel being subjected to some restrictions like; trip duration of fewer than six months.

So, what changes happen to your international travel after filing N-400 – do the same international travel restrictions still apply?

Before we get down to the travel requirements lets first take a look at some important facts:

How Do I Become a US Citizen?

There are several ways of becoming a US citizen, whether or not you were born in the country. These include:

Being Born in the US (Citizenship by Birth)

Under US law, all persons born within the US territories automatically become US citizens.

This includes persons born in Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana, and the Virgin Islands.

Citizenship by Acquisition

This is where a child not born in the US, automatically acquires citizenship through the parents. It happens if at the time of birth, at least one of the parents was a US citizen, although subject to several other requirements.

When such children give birth, their kids also assume US citizenship automatically.

Citizenship by Derivation

After a parent acquires citizenship through naturalization, their kids automatically “derive” citizenship, as long as they are US permanent residents. For this to happen, these children must be below 18 years of age.

When a child acquires US citizenship via derivation, they don’t need to undergo the naturalization process themselves.

Citizenship by Naturalization

Persons not born in the US can also become citizens through the naturalization process. This includes a voluntary process where people request to be granted citizenship to the United States.

There are, however, several pre-requisites for one to become a US citizen via naturalization.

The primary requirement is that one has to be over 18 years, and the application falls into any of these three categories.

Permanent resident for over 5 years

Permanent resident for over three years, but have been married for a minimum of 3 years by a US citizen

Qualifying services like the US Armed Forces

This means that even people born outside the US can become citizens by applying through Form N-400.

See Related: 13 Reasons Why Traveling is Important

Basic Requirements for Naturalization Application

For anyone to apply for naturalization, they must meet the following basic requirements:

Have attained the age of 18

Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least five years. This may, however, vary for some people.

Continuous residence for at least three months in the state you are applying, prior to the application filing date.

Prove to possess good moral character as per the constitution’s principles

Attain a certain continuous residence period, with a physical presence in the US

Proficiency in basic English writing, speaking, and reading, with comprehension of the US history and civics.

See Related: Best Travel Apps for Europe

Can I Travel After Filing the US Citizenship Application?

Normally, travel during citizenship process is permitted. Since by the time of application, you are already a permanent US resident/green cardholder, you are allowed to travel while you await your citizenship.

However, before you travel, there are several essential things you must consider.

Things to Know About Travel during Naturalization and Citizenship Process

Whereas international travel during naturalization is permissible, you must fulfil the following requirements:

Continuous Residence and Physical Presence

These are two terms that usually confuse people during the US citizenship application process. To better understand these requirements, let’s first see their actual meaning.

Continuous Residence – this refers to the amount of time you’ve actually stayed in the US before you make your citizenship application. In most cases, it’s five years but some people get exemptions – like when your spouse is a US citizen.

Since travels outside the US can affect your continuous residence, you should avoid trips that are longer than six months.

Physical Presence – this considers the actual days you were physically in the US. You are required to be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months of the entire five years before you can file your application.

Here’s a good example to make it even clearer:

Let’s assume you took a two weeks’ vacation to Paris 2 years prior to your application. During this vacation, you are still a resident in the US, and the two weeks will count when fulfilling your continuous residence requirement.

However, the same two weeks are excluded when counting the physical days you were in the US. This means that they don’t contribute to your physical presence requirement.

See Related: When is the Best Time to Travel to Puerto Rico? (Ranked)

Length of Your Travel

If you wish to travel outside the US, the length of your trip also matters. Although you are allowed to travel as a permanent resident, you should first consult. An immigration lawyer can advise you accordingly before you travel.

In case you have to travel, make sure that the days you stay abroad, have no impact on the continuous residence requirements.

Also, any trave when applying for citizenship, will continue to impact your physical presence requirement negatively.

Be sure that your travel won’t lead to the N-400 application denial.

See Related: How to Plan a Month Long Vacation

Naturalization Appointments

Can you travel outside US while awaiting citizenship?

While you might want to travel, you should consider how you’re going to attend all the three crucial naturalization appointments. You don’t want to disrupt the application processing.

The USCIS schedules a biometrics appointment a few weeks after your application. This means that despite permission to travel during biometrics, you should have a way of availing yourself when the appointment is due.

You can ensure that you don’t miss this by having someone check your mails and alert you when you are needed for the appointment.

Better still, some USCIS service centers allow walk-ins for biometrics. If your center is one of those, you can just visit them and submit your biometrics. This way, you can travel abroad without worry.

The next important appointment on the list is the naturalization interview. This one comes several months after your biometrics appointment, and you must also be present for it.

The last stage is the oath ceremony appointment. Here is where you take an oath for the official citizenship. And, while it’s possible to reschedule some of these appointments, it might reflect negatively on you, and can even cost you your chance of earning that citizenship.

Therefore, as you plan for international travel, make sure that you consider all these appointments and be available.

When you consult an immigration lawyer, they will in most cases, advise you to first halt your travels until the process is over.

This helps you to avoid any mishaps in the process.

See Related: 30 Cheap Places to Travel [Ultimate Guide]

Exceptions to the Continuous Residence Requirements

Even with all the restrictions, some people are exempt from these continuous residence conditions.

Persons in the US armed forces, religious workers, researchers, government employees, and some specific business travelers, are not subject to the requirements.

Nevertheless, persons who want this privilege must file another form known as Form N-470.

This Form, “Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes,” is used by permanent residents in the US who must travel abroad for periods longer than a year.

It helps them to retain their immigrant status for naturalization pursuance.

Apart from filing this form, the applicants must fulfill the following:

They must be lawful US permanent residents, physically living in the US one year before the contract to work abroad.

The applicant should file the N-470 Form, before the one year of staying abroad lapses.

Lawful, US permanent residents are permitted to travel outside the US and freely come back, upon proof of valid residency (green card).

Extensive travels might, however, negatively affect your permanent resident status, and can lead to the rejection of the US citizenship application.

The law requires you to avoid travel that exceeds six months unless you’ve filed for the N-470 Form with the USCIS. By staying for long periods abroad, it might be assumed that you abandoned your immigrant status.

This can subsequently lead to the rejection of your N-400 application.

You should also note that the USCIS officers will scrutinize your travels throughout the permanent residency period. For these reasons, you shouldn’t play the tricky games that some people play, as they will be detected.

And, they can lead to the rejection of your application.

For instance, multiple trips abroad that seem calculated to fit the continuous residence requirements can cost you your application.

Some people will travel for like five months abroad, come back into the US for a few days, and travel again.

This pattern will trigger an alert with the USCIS officers.

If you want to travel, only travel when it’s necessary and make sure that you follow all the requirements. The whole purpose of these requirements and processes is to determine how genuine the applicant is.

They help to ascertain that the applicants are not only out to exploit the benefits that come with being a US citizen.

The USCIS officers will do everything to establish that you truly want and deserve citizenship. In addition, the process shows how willing you are to integrate with other Americans and how long you are ready to stay in the US.

See Related: How to Plan a Trip for Your Birthday

Conclusion: Travel During the Naturalization Process

In general, travel during the naturalization process is not prohibited. However, after travel, you’ll have to prove permanent residency in the US, before re-entering the country.

This means that you have to provide your green card as proof.

Also, for any travel decision you make during this period, make sure that it will not affect your citizenship application in any way.

If you have all the facts, you can avoid any mishaps in the process, even if you travel.

It won’t be fair to wait for all that time, only to get a denial because of something you could have avoided.

Related Resources

Via Travelers is a modern travel blog providing the best tips, hacks, and itineraries to ensure you have an amazing adventure.

Follow Via Travelers on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Commonly Asked Questions About the Naturalization Process

USCIS has developed responses to several frequently asked questions related to the naturalization process and interview and test.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for U.S. citizenship?

No. You can file USCIS forms yourself, including Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, which can be submitted online. However, some people choose to seek assistance from a lawyer or Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)-accredited representative. If you decide to get legal assistance, you can start here: Find legal advice

Find help in your community Many people offer to help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all of them are authorized or qualified to do so. If you are seeking legal help to complete your Application for Naturalization, please be aware that only attorneys and EOIR-accredited representatives can provide legal advice about which forms and documents to attach to your application, explain immigration options you may have, and communicate with USCIS about your case. For additional information, please review USCIS’ guidance on the unauthorized practice of immigration law. If you decide to submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, without legal assistance, obtain information about the naturalization application process and study materials to help you prepare for the naturalization test at the Citizenship Resource Center. Also visit, the N-400, Application for Naturalization page and read the instructions.

Does USCIS publish the naturalization test questions?

Yes. USCIS publishes a complete list of the 2008 and 2020 version of the civics test. For the 2008 version of the civics test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant 10 of the 100 civics test questions.

For the 2020 version of the civics test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant 20 of the 128 civics test questions. The USCIS officer will ask the applicant only the civics questions on the lists for both versions of the test. USCIS provides free educational resources to help applicants prepare for the naturalization test. Find study materials for the 2008 version of the civics test and English language test, as well as study materials for the 2020 version of the civics test to help you prepare. In addition, the Find Help in Your Community page allows individuals to search for low-cost or free citizenship classes throughout the United States.

Does USCIS make frequent changes to the questions on the naturalization test?

No. However, some answers may change because of elections or appointments. As you study for the test, make sure you know the most current answers to these questions. Visit the Civics Test Updates page to find answers to these specific questions.

Will I be asked all of the civics questions during the naturalization interview?

For the 2008 version of the civics test, there are 100 available civics questions on the naturalization test (PDF, 295.55 KB), but you will not be asked to answer all of them during your naturalization interview. You will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. You must answer 6 questions correctly to to pass the 2008 version of the civics test. For the 2020 version of the civics test, there are 128 available civics questions on the naturalization test, but you will not be asked to answer all of them during your naturalization interview. You must answer at least 12 of the 20 questions correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

Because my Green Card allows me to travel between the United States and my home country, can I live in both places until I am ready to apply for citizenship?

To qualify for citizenship, generally applicants must demonstrate they have continuously resided in the United States for at least 5 years before submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This means you must be residing exclusively in the United States – not in any other country. You may travel to another country, including your home country, provided no other legal impediment precludes you from doing so. However, if a trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you have not continuously resided in the United States and therefore are ineligible for naturalization. In addition to examining the length of your trip abroad, USCIS will look at the frequency of your travel. To qualify for naturalization, an applicant must spend at least half of their time in the United States. This is known as the “physical presence” requirement. If you take frequent, short trips abroad that result in you spending more than half your time outside the United States, then you will also be ineligible for naturalization. The requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” are interrelated but are different requirements. A naturalization applicant must satisfy each requirement to be eligible for naturalization.

Will USCIS approve my Form N-400 naturalization application once I pass the reading, writing, and civics portions of the naturalization test?

No. In addition to preparing for the reading, writing, and civics portion of the naturalization test, you will need to prepare for the speaking portion of the naturalization test and meet all other naturalization requirements. The speaking test occurs during the eligibility review. USCIS offers interactive practice tests to help you prepare. During your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will review the responses you provided on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with you. The USCIS officer will ask questions to clarify or confirm your responses. Prepare yourself for the English speaking test by making sure you understand each question on the application and can respond to each question according to your situation. You have demonstrated an ability to speak English if you generally understand and can respond accurately to the USCIS officer. Applicants may ask the USCIS officer to repeat or rephrase questions during the naturalization interview. For additional information on how USCIS officers assess English language abilities, please see the Scoring Guidelines for the U.S. Naturalization Test (PDF, 121.39 KB). Certain applicants, because of age and time as a lawful permanent resident, are exempt from the English requirements for naturalization and may take the civics test in the language of their choice. For more information, see exceptions and accommodations.

Can I legally change my name while my naturalization application is pending?

Yes. You can legally change your name after filing your application for naturalization with USCIS. If your name has changed after you filed a naturalization application, you must promptly provide USCIS with the document(s) that legally changed your name(s), such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, or other official record. Make sure to mention your name change and bring the documents related to your name change at the time of the interview. You can also legally change your name when you naturalize. The instructions to Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, include information on what is required when you wish to change your name at the time of naturalization. At the time of the interview, the USCIS officer will record the name change request and ask you to sign a name change petition, which USCIS files with a court before the judicial oath ceremony. Upon receipt of the petition, the court signs and seals the petition. The petition is later presented to you during the naturalization ceremony as evidence of the name change. All name change requests facilitated through USCIS will require you to take the oath of allegiance at a judicial ceremony, rather than an administrative one. As far as possible delays, USCIS has little control over the judicial ceremony calendar. However, most courts are very supportive in accommodating the need for naturalization ceremonies.

Do I need to bring original documents such as birth and marriage certificates to the naturalization interview?

Yes. You should bring certain original documents to your interview. In the instructions to Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, USCIS provides an extensive list of examples of original documents that you should bring to the interview, depending on different case scenarios. Examples of these documents include: original birth, marriage, divorce, final adoption and naturalization certificates; court orders/decrees; evidence of child support payments; court-certified arrest reports; and probation/parole records. Certain certified copies of documents can also be provided. You should also submit copies–preferably certified copies–of these documents at the initial filing of your application. These documents should be submitted as evidence in support of your application, and will facilitate the USCIS officers’ review of your request.

When should I submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions?

Applicants for naturalization seeking an exception to the English and/or civics requirements for naturalization because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment are encouraged to submit this form at the time they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with USCIS. However, USCIS recognizes that certain circumstances may prevent concurrent filing of the naturalization application and the disability exception form. Accordingly, an applicant may file the disability exception form during any part of the naturalization process, including after the application is filed but before the first examination, during the first examination, during the re-examination if the applicant’s first examination was rescheduled, and during the rehearing on a denied naturalization application.

How will I know what the decision is on the Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, I submitted?

The decision on your Form N-648 will be made at the time of your naturalization interview. If your Form N-648 is found to be sufficient, and the licensed medical professional who completed your Form N-648 indicated on the form that you were unable to comply with all of the educational requirements, the officer will conduct the eligibility interview in your language of choice with the use of an interpreter and will not test you on any of the educational requirements. If your Form N-648 is found to be sufficient, and the licensed medical professional indicated on the form that you were unable to comply with only some of the educational requirements, the officer will administer the tests for the other requirements. You will be permitted to use an interpreter if the medical professional indicated that you were unable to comply with the English speaking requirement. If your Form N-648 is found to be insufficient, the officer must proceed with the eligibility interview in English and administer all portions of the English and civics testing as if you had not submitted Form N-648.

What should I do if I have already applied for naturalization and my Permanent Resident Card, also known as “Green Card,” is expiring?

A lawful permanent resident is required to have valid, unexpired proof of lawful permanent residence in his or her possession at all times. Applying for naturalization does not change this requirement. For this reason, you must generally apply to renew your expiring Green Card even if you have applied for naturalization. For more information on renewing your Green Card, visit uscis.gov/green-card/after-we-grant-your-green-card/replace-your-green-card or uscis.gov/i-90.

If I fail a portion of the naturalization test, when will I be retested?

Unless you are eligible for an exception to the English or civics requirements, you will be given two opportunities to meet the English and civics requirements. If you fail any portion of these requirements, you will be retested during a new interview on the portion of the test that you failed (English or civics) between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview. Note: Due to recent policy changes, some applicants for naturalization may have the choice to take the 2008 or 2020 version of the civics test at their re-exam. Visit the 2020 version of the civics test page to learn more. See also the USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.

How many times can I apply for naturalization?

Can I Travel While My U.S. Naturalization Application Is Pending?

By The Modi Law Firm, PLLC | April 22, 2019

Can I Go Abroad After Applying for Citizenship?

Travel is permissible during the time in which you are applying for U.S. naturalization. There are no travel restrictions after filling out Form N-400, which is the Application for Naturalization. That’s because, as a green card holder, you are already a permanent resident, which allows you to travel abroad while your application is pending.

Requirements to Note Before Traveling During the Naturalization Process

While you travel abroad, you must fulfill continuous residence and physical presence requirements, and the length of your travel is another factor to consider, especially if you are traveling outside the country. Therefore, although generally speaking Permanent Residents can travel outside the U.S., it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer prior to potentially traveling.

You must also remember to attend 3 essential naturalization appointments during the process, so it does not disrupt the N-400 processing timeline. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will schedule you for a biometrics appointment within a few weeks of filing your application for citizenship, and the next appointment will be several months after that: the naturalization interview. Finally, once approved, you will need to go to an oath ceremony to officially become a U.S. citizen. While you can reschedule these appointments, it can significantly delay your naturalization process and USCIS may be more likely to deny your application if you simply ignore appointment notices.

An immigration attorney will likely tell you it is wise to remain in the country during your naturalization process, even though you are allowed to leave if there is a genuine reason. Remember to keep your appointment when you get back to the United States for your naturalization interview. Moreover, it is always best to have the assistance of a competent immigration attorney when applying for naturalization to assist with the forms, checklist of documents, submit the application together with a legal cover letter, monitor the case and prepare for and represent you at any naturalization interview.

If you still have questions about travel and the naturalization process, consult with an attorney at The Modi Law Firm PLLC in Houston. We look forward to hearing from you. Simply call (832) 514-4030 or contact us online for a swift response.

U.S. Green Card Travel Document

Why you need a travel document

The travel document provides someone living in the United States with “advance parole.” (This has nothing to do with the “parole” you hear about in an episode of Law & Order. In the context of immigration law, “advance parole” is just a technical way of saying “permission ahead of time to re-enter the United States.”)

If you leave the United States while your green card application is pending and you don’t have a travel document, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider your green card application abandoned and will deny it. At best, that means you’ll have to redo all of the paperwork and pay the fees a second time. At worst, you could find yourself unable to re-enter the United States.

When and how to apply for a travel document

The fastest, cheapest, and easiest way to apply for a travel document is as part of the original marriage green card application package you send to USCIS, by including Form I-131 (“Application for Travel Document”) along with the main forms (I-130 and I-485).

You must attach a copy of your photo identification (such as a copy of the photo page of your passport) to the travel document application, as well as two passport-sized photos. There is no additional fee if you submit your travel document application (Form I-131) at the same time as your initial application for a green card (Form I-485, filed anytime after July 30, 2007).

If you’ve already submitted your green card application, you can still get a travel document that will allow you to leave the United States without paying an additional fee. In this case, when you file Form I-131 with USCIS, include a copy of your photo ID, two passport-sized photos, and a copy of the receipt notice showing that USCIS previously received your green card application including the full application fee.

Travel restrictions and renewing your travel document

It’s essential that you don’t leave the United States until you’ve actually received your travel document, but otherwise there are no travel restrictions for marriage-based green card applicants. You can only remain outside the United States, however, as long as you re-enter the U.S. before the expiration date printed on your travel document.

The travel document is valid for one year after it’s issued, typically within 150 days (in some cases longer) after submitting your application materials to USCIS. (Until recently, the normal processing time for a travel document was 90 days, but a growing backlog has caused additional delays. USCIS provides a database where you can check the most current processing times, updated once per month.)

If you haven’t received your green card yet and you plan to travel after that year has elapsed, it’s important to renew your travel document in a timely fashion. You can file a renewal application as early as 120 days before your current travel document expires, and it’s a good idea to submit the renewal as early as possible. The renewal travel document is usually processed within the same timeframe as that for the initial application: 150 days or longer. It’s important to plan ahead to avoid gaps in your ability to travel.

To renew your travel document, submit Form I-131 with a copy of your current travel document, a copy of the receipt notice from your green card application, and two passport-sized photos. There is no additional fee.

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Emergencies

It is possible to get an expedited travel document if you need to travel because of an emergency. USCIS issues emergency travel documents in situations like the death or sudden illness of a family member abroad. If you find yourself in this situation, you can make an appointment with your local USCIS office. You should bring your completed I-131, two passport photos, and evidence to prove that you have an urgent need to travel. This evidence might be a death certificate, medical records, or a signed letter from your family member’s doctor. There is no additional fee for an emergency travel document.

Planning your trip

The travel document usually arrives within 150 days (sometimes longer) after submitting your application. You can’t leave the country until you have your approved travel document in hand, so you should expect to spend the 3–5 months after submitting your green card application in the United States.

Theoretically, you could be out of the United States for as long as you have a travel document (one year plus renewals). In practice, however, that’s not possible, because then you would miss your fingerprinting and green card interview appointments. If you find that you are unable to attend your fingerprinting or interview appointment, you should promptly follow the rescheduling instructions printed on the USCIS appointment notice.

In general, it’s a good idea to make arrangements to be alerted of any USCIS notices that are sent to you while you are abroad. (For example, you can ask a friend or a neighbor to inform you of any USCIS notices you receive by mail.)

Boundless stays with you until the green card finish line, helping you keep on top of interview preparation, follow-on forms, and every other important milestone along your immigration journey. Learn more, or check your eligibility for free.

Returning to the United States with a travel document

Even after you have submitted your green card application, you are still not a permanent resident of the United States. When you re-enter the United States, you’ll be considered an “arriving alien.” It’s fairly common for people with travel documents to be pulled aside for secondary inspection. Don’t be alarmed if that happens—the border agent is likely just verifying that you have a pending green card application.

Travel documents do not guarantee that the border agent will allow you back into the United States, however. If you have any reason to suspect that you might be turned away at the border, you should carefully consider whether or not you need to travel before your green card application has been approved.

For example, If you have been in the United States for any amount of time without legal immigration status, then leaving the United States under most circumstances will trigger a bar from re-entering the United States for either three or ten years, depending on how long you were in the United States without status. If you’re in this situation, it is a good idea to avoid travel until you have a green card.

In summary, there is really no downside to applying for a travel document at the same time you submit your green card application, so you should do so even if you don’t have any specific travel plans.

With Boundless, you get a professionally assembled green card application package — including the travel permit application — arranged in the precise format the government prefers. Learn more, or check if you qualify for a marriage-based green card.

Can I Travel While My U.S. Naturalization Application Is Pending?

By The Modi Law Firm, PLLC | April 22, 2019

Can I Go Abroad After Applying for Citizenship?

Travel is permissible during the time in which you are applying for U.S. naturalization. There are no travel restrictions after filling out Form N-400, which is the Application for Naturalization. That’s because, as a green card holder, you are already a permanent resident, which allows you to travel abroad while your application is pending.

Requirements to Note Before Traveling During the Naturalization Process

While you travel abroad, you must fulfill continuous residence and physical presence requirements, and the length of your travel is another factor to consider, especially if you are traveling outside the country. Therefore, although generally speaking Permanent Residents can travel outside the U.S., it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer prior to potentially traveling.

You must also remember to attend 3 essential naturalization appointments during the process, so it does not disrupt the N-400 processing timeline. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will schedule you for a biometrics appointment within a few weeks of filing your application for citizenship, and the next appointment will be several months after that: the naturalization interview. Finally, once approved, you will need to go to an oath ceremony to officially become a U.S. citizen. While you can reschedule these appointments, it can significantly delay your naturalization process and USCIS may be more likely to deny your application if you simply ignore appointment notices.

An immigration attorney will likely tell you it is wise to remain in the country during your naturalization process, even though you are allowed to leave if there is a genuine reason. Remember to keep your appointment when you get back to the United States for your naturalization interview. Moreover, it is always best to have the assistance of a competent immigration attorney when applying for naturalization to assist with the forms, checklist of documents, submit the application together with a legal cover letter, monitor the case and prepare for and represent you at any naturalization interview.

If you still have questions about travel and the naturalization process, consult with an attorney at The Modi Law Firm PLLC in Houston. We look forward to hearing from you. Simply call (832) 514-4030 or contact us online for a swift response.

Can I Travel as a Legal Permanent Resident with a Pending N-400?

You have been patiently awaiting your opportunity to apply for Naturalization and that time has finally come! Now you have a pending N-400 Application for Naturalization and want to know if it is possible to travel during this pending stage.

First, travel is permissible during the application process for U.S. naturalization and alongside it being permissible there are no travel restrictions once you have filed your form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Why are there no restrictions? There are no restrictions because you are a green card holder and as a green card holder you are a permanent resident allowed to travel abroad even with a pending naturalization application.

Second, although you do not have any travel restrictions you do still have residence and physical presence requirements you must satisfy to maintain your legal permanent resident status within the U.S. For this reason it is important that any trip you plan to take must not be for longer than 180 days and you must remain mindful of the amount of accumulated time that you spend outside of the U.S. If you accrue more than 180 days outside of the U.S., USCIS will presume that you have disrupted the continuous residence requirement, consider your continuous presence broken, and will deny your N-400. For reference:

If you are applying for naturalization based on 5 years as a permanent resident then you will need to show that you have at least 30 months of physical presence within the U.S. in order to have maintained your status.

If you are applying for naturalization based on 3 years as a permanent resident as a qualified spouse of a U.S. citizen, then you must show at least 18 months of physical presence within the U.S. in order to have maintained your status.

Additionally, in all cases, you must show that you have resided for at least 3 months immediately prior to filing form N-400 in the USCIS district or state where you claim to have residency.

Third, there are 3 major and essential naturalization appointments during the process and attendance to these appointments is paramount to the success of your N-400 application:

Your biometrics appointment within a few weeks of filing your application; Your naturalization interview; and Your oath ceremony to officially become a citizen in the U.S.

Careful consideration of when you travel is important because should these appointments be scheduled during your time outside the U.S., it can lead to unnecessary complications. While it is possible to reschedule these appointments doing so would only likely lead to significant delay in your naturalization process. Moreover, ignoring the appointment notices will more than likely lead to a denial of your application.

Fourth and lastly, while there are no restrictions, per se, to your ability to travel outside the U.S. with a pending N-400 it would be wise to err on the side of caution and remain within the U.S. until your application has been adjudicated to ensure that you do not miss any appointments, do not need to reschedule any appointments because of your absence, and prevent avoidable delays.

Please always consider seeking advice with an experienced immigration attorney when making travel decisions during any portion of the Green Card or Naturalization application process.

By: Juanita Deaver

Juanita Deaver is a Staff Attorney in the I-140 and AOS Department, where she assists clients in the middle and later stages of the green card process.

Juanita earned her J.D. from South Texas College of Law Houston in May 2021. As a law-student, Juanita interned at a non-profit organization where she discovered her passion for immigration while working on family-based cases helping file I-130 petitions and I-485 adjustments of status. During her time at South Texas, she further pursued her interest in the field of immigration law through enrollment in the school’s Immigration Clinics where she worked on TPS, T visas, and DACA cases. Her experience working with families and clients in emergency situations has provided Juanita the tools and experience to provide clear and concise explanations to the seemingly daunting immigration process.

Juanita joined Reddy & Neumann as a law clerk in December 2019. While clerking, she gained valuable experience by working closely under attorneys from each of the firm’s departments on drafting successful requests for evidence, appeals, motions to re-open, and through legal research on immigration matters. Juanita understands that every case is unique and hopes to provide each client with a better understanding of the ever-changing immigration process.

Can I Travel Abroad After applying for U.S. citizenship?

You can travel abroad after applying for U.S. citizenship without any restrictions. However, you can travel only as a permanent resident by using your Green Card as you will become a U.S. citizen only after taking your oath of allegiance.

So you need to follow the rules applicable to permanent residents which require applying for a re-entry permit if the trip is for one year or more.

Can you travel abroad after the naturalization interview?

Even if you are done with your naturalization interview, you will only be a permanent resident until you attend the oath ceremony and receive your naturalization certificate. Hence, you can travel abroad as a Green Card holder, while your U.S. citizenship application is pending.

How travel can affect the naturalization application process?

Even though you can travel abroad there are ways that your travel can affect your citizenship application. All the laws that are applicable for permanent residents in order to travel will still be applicable.

Understanding the laws regarding travel and planning accordingly will help you to travel and at the same time not let it affect your naturalization application process.

While Form N-400, Naturalization Application is pending, you must fulfill the continuous residence and the physical presence requirement for the citizenship application. So your trip must not be lengthy.

At the same time, if you have not registered for updates by emails or text messages, you will have to ask your friend or your relative in the United States, to check your mails and inform you about your biometrics appointment and about your citizenship test and interview. You will have to see that you do not miss these appointments and missing your interview or your biometrics appointment will delay your citizenship application process.

Generally, it takes around 12 months or more to process a U.S. citizenship application but you are likely to receive your biometrics appointment notice within one month from the date of your application.

Hence it is better to travel abroad after you submit your biometric information. Some service centers accept walk-ins and if your USCIS service center accepts walk-ins, you can visit the application support center at any time and submit fingerprints and then travel abroad.

As mentioned before, until you take the oath of allegiance, you can travel abroad as a Green Card holder and return to the United States with your valid Green Card. Remember that, you will have to surrender your Green Card only at the time of taking the oath so do not lose your Green Card until then. If you lose it you should replace the Green Card.

It is recommended to remain in the United States during the naturalization process. But if you are required to travel abroad due to a genuine reason, you may do so, but remember to get back to the United States for your biometrics appointment and your naturalization interview.

Why you should NEVER travel right after filing for U.S. citizenship [2022]

Updated on June 13, 2022

If you’ve filed your Form N-400, you may be asking yourself “Can I travel after filing the U.S. citizenship application?”. After all, it would be a shame to not be allowed to travel just because you submitted this form. So, do you have permission to travel abroad? Let’s find out below.

Travel Abroad After Applying for Citizenship

Submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization will not affect your ability to travel abroad. Just because you’re trying to become a naturalized citizen, it doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to travel anymore. After all, you are still a permanent resident. Therefore, you have a valid permanent resident card that allows you to leave and enter the country. So, if you need to leave the country for some reason after submitting your N-400, it will be ok.

It’s only after receiving the naturalization certificate that you become a naturalized citizen. Until then, you will be a permanent resident, so you have the opportunity to go abroad being a Green Card holder.

However, you need to be aware that there may be some downsides to being abroad after submitting your Form N-400. Basically, the application process can be affected if you’re not present in the country, especially if the trip is too long.

You will have to deal with an interview and a biometrics appointment, for which you are going to receive emails informing you about the date and other details. You have to fulfill continuous residence and physical presence requirements too.

That being said, it would be an issue if you leave the United States and don’t return too soon, as you may miss the appointments and end up delaying the case. If you think you’re going to be abroad after submitting the citizenship application, it’s best to ask a relative or friend to take care of your emails. They should check whether you received information about the appointments and tell you when they’re supposed to happen, so you can return before that date.

Ideally, you should travel after submitting the biometric information, because your presence will not be required too soon afterward. If leaving is a must due to an emergency, you can also consider a service center walk-in. In case you have a USCIS service center nearby, try to find out if walk-ins are accepted. If they are, you can simply give it a visit and submit your fingerprints. Afterward, you’ll be free to travel abroad with no problems.

You will be allowed to travel with your Green Card, but bear in mind that when you take the oath, you will have to surrender your card. Until then, you’re still a permanent resident.

That being said, if possible, try to stay in the U.S. during the naturalization process, but if it’s not possible, try your best to at least return early enough or go to a walk-in beforehand. When you’re abroad, the amount of time you spend in another country will be monitored. This is to make sure your trip is not going to have a bad effect on your continuous residence.

Important Requirements If You’re Traveling During the Application Process

If you’re traveling while your N-400 application is processing, you are required to check your mail frequently in case you’re notified about your appointments. You must be sure you’re going to make it back for your appointments if you don’t want your naturalization process to get delayed.

There are three main appointments you’re required to attend: the naturalization interview, the biometrics appointment, and the oath ceremony. That doesn’t mean they cannot be rescheduled, but if you’re trying to get naturalized as soon as possible, it’s still recommended to not miss your appointment. If you do so, you risk having your application denied.

You should be aware that you’re still under the effect of the continuous residence requirement. Before you file for naturalization, you must have lived in the United States for at least five years until you file the naturalization application. It applies up to the time of naturalization as well, though.

The same goes if you’re someone who’s applying based on a permanent residency of three years while married to a citizen of the United States. That being said, it’s important to make sure that your trip is not long and that it takes less than six months, so don’t make plans for a long trip.

N-400 Appointments

Three key appointments have to be attended when you’re submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. So, if you are abroad while the appointments are supposed to take place, it will end up disrupting the entire process and you will be naturalized later than initially intended.

After filing the naturalization application, you will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment in a matter of weeks. Afterward, the majority of the applicants have to wait a few additional months to attend the next appointment, which is the naturalization interview.

Lastly, the final appointment is the oath ceremony, during which you’re finally reaching your goal – becoming a naturalized citizen. This is when your status goes from permanent resident to a naturalized citizen. This is important to attend if you’re trying to gain naturalization sooner – so, you need to make sure you make it in time.

Although all these appointments can be rescheduled, it will take even more to achieve naturalization if you’re not present. If you ignore the notices sent by USCIS, your N-400 will probably be denied, which is even worse.

Continuous Residence & Physical Presence

As mentioned, you should make sure to respect the residence requirements if you want to go abroad after filing your citizenship application. As a permanent resident of the United States, you should ensure that you don’t end up spending more than 180 days abroad. You need to keep track of how many days you’ve been outside the U.S. for.

Moreover, if you are staying abroad for six months or more, then the USCIS will conclude that you disrupted the requirement of continuous presence. This could negatively affect your N-400 as it will get denied.

If you’re someone applying on a five-year permanent residency basis, you are required to spend 30 months in the U.S. accumulated during the naturalization period. This will still count when it comes to the requirement of physical presence.

Read More

Final Thoughts

To sum up, it is possible to travel outside the United States after filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. But even though you’re permitted to do so, there are still some things to keep in mind, such as not staying abroad for a very long period. You may end up missing your appointments and thus lengthen the process. Ignoring the notices that USCIS sends will end up in the application being denied.

You need to make sure you plan your trip accordingly so that you don’t end up ruining the naturalization process. If possible, you should entrust a close person to monitor your emails and tell you about the situation. You should also plan a short trip so you can make it back for your appointments. If you’ve been in the U.S. for enough time as a permanent resident, there should be no issues with your trip and the naturalization process.

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What Happens If I Travel or Move While Awaiting My Adjustment of Status Interview?

Steps to take to preserve your green card application while traveling outside the U.S..

If you are applying for a U.S. green card through the process known as “adjustment of status,” in which you submit your application materials to, and attend your interview at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), then it’s important to prepare yourself for certain aspects of the wait for an interview. That wait is typically months long, depending on the workload at your local USCIS office.

WARNING: The waits will be even longer going forward. The rest of this article describes normal immigration procedures. Following the start of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, however, USCIS closed all offices to in-person visits. Even after they reopen, a backlog will have to be dealt with before normal scheduling resumes. On top of that, travel during a pandemic is risky. You’ll want to make sure you don’t spend 14 days or more in a country from which returning thereafter is forbidden.

If You Move While Awaiting an Adjustment Interview

Within ten days of moving, you (and every immigrating member of your family) must let USCIS know about your new address. The law requires this of most non-U.S. citizens who remain in the U.S. for more than 30 days. (Parents of children should notify USCIS of the child’s change of address.) The only people exempt from this requirement are diplomats with an “A” visa, and official government representatives to an international organization with a “G” visa.

You do not need to notify USCIS about temporary addresses as long as you maintain your present address as your permanent residence and continue to receive mail there.

Failure to tell USCIS about your change of address is a misdemeanor and can be punished with a jail term of up to 30 days, a fine of up to $200, or, in some cases, your removal from the United States.

Although it is unlikely that you will be prosecuted, there is still a good incentive for changing your address with USCIS. If USCIS doesn’t know where to reach you, it might send important correspondence, including your interview notice, to the wrong address, and you might miss it entirely.

USCIS is required to send notices to the last address it has for you only. “I never got my interview notice” will not be an excuse for missing an interview if you moved and did not change your address with USCIS. You should not count on the U.S. Postal Service, or anyone living at your old address, to forward your mail to you at your new address.

The procedure for advising USCIS of your move is to use Form AR-11. For most adjustment of status applicants, the best and easiest way to submit Form AR-11 is online at USCIS’s Change of Address Page.

Click yes to the question “Is this change of address for an application or petition currently in progress?” In the case information section, select “I485.” In the Receipt Number box, enter the receipt number that appears on the Form I-797C Notice of Action that USCIS mailed you when it accepted your I-485. (If you filed Form I-765 and Form I-131 with your I-485, add these too.) Fill in the rest of the form, give your email address for confirmation, and when everything looks okay, click the Submit button.

Print a copy for your records. It will show the date and time the form was filed, and will contain a USCIS confirmation number.

If you are adjusting status on the basis of an approved VAWA I-360 petition, “T” visa, or “U” visa, you can’t change your address online. Per USCIS’s instructions, you must mail a completed and signed AR-11 form to:

U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services

Attn: Humanitarian Division

Vermont Service Center

38 River Road

Essex Junction, VT 05479-0001

(Don’t use the address on the form.) The blank form is available online at the USCIS website.

If you simply prefer to file your AR-11 by regular mail (or if you find you have no choice, because the system has glitches and gives you error messages), that’s okay. You should fill the form out, sign it, and mail it to the address shown on the form. When mailing the AR-11, it’s best to use certified, registered, or return receipt mail and retain copies of what you sent and proof of mailing.

If you mail your AR-11, however, you will still have to notify the USCIS interviewing office of your address change. Do this by calling 1-800-375-5283. For TTY (deaf or hard of hearing), call 1-800-767-1833.

If You Travel While Awaiting an Adjustment Interview

While waiting for your adjustment of status interview, you might want or need to visit your home country or somewhere else, perhaps to visit family or continue arranging your final move to the U.S., for example. You can travel, but must use great care. If you simply get up and go without getting official permission (called “advance parole,” described below), the law says you will have given up (or abandoned, in USCIS terminology) your adjustment of status application. You will need to start all over, including payment of another fee.

Worse yet, depending upon the nonimmigrant status you previously had, you might not be able to return to the U.S. for many months or much longer until you get an immigrant visa (green card) from the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country.

There are exceptions to the general rule that traveling abroad without advance parole will abandon your adjustment of status application. One is if you arrived in the United States on a K-3 visa (a so-called “fiancé visa” designed especially for already married couples). People with K-3 visas can use these to reenter the United States as many times as they like until a decision has been made on their green card application.

Other exceptions are for persons in the U.S. in lawful H or L status, including dependent family members, who can travel abroad and return using an H or L visa and keep their adjustment applications pending.

To protect yourself (if you don’t have a K-3, H, or L visa), ask USCIS for advance permission to leave (called “Advance Parole”) and come back by filing Form I-131. You can either file the Advance Parole application together with your adjustment of status application, or you can file it separately later, along with proof that your adjustment of status application has already been filed. Once you’ve received Advance Parole, your adjustment of status application, including its place in line, will be preserved if you leave the country. Your trip shouldn’t delay the processing of your application either.

It will take some time for USCIS to process your application and grant you Advance Parole. To shorten the time you won’t be able to travel, apply for Advance Parole and permission to work (on Form I-765) at the same time you apply to adjust status. The applications will be free in this case, and within a few months (subject to delays and USCIS approving your I-131 and I-765), it should send you a card good for work and travel for the rest of the time your adjustment application remains pending.

On the I-131, you should ask for a multiple-entry Advance Parole document, so that you can take as many trips outside the country as might become necessary while you’re waiting for your green card to be approved.

Although other applicants might have to justify their need for Advance Parole, USCIS will consider the fact that you have applied for adjustment of status as a sufficient reason for granting you Advance Parole. You will not need to provide any documentation showing that you qualify for Advance Parole when filing the I-131.

Be Cautious About Leaving the U.S.

The Advance Parole document is your ticket back into the U.S., but it is not a guaranteed ticket. Its function is to keep your adjustment of status application alive while you’re gone—but it won’t protect you from being found inadmissible.

So if you have any doubts about your admissibility back into the U.S., don’t leave without first consulting with an immigration lawyer, particularly if you have been arrested since the last time you entered the U.S., or if you have spent any time in the U.S. in unlawful immigration status.

Even if you have Advance Parole, don’t be alarmed if, upon returning to the U.S., you are pulled into a separate line. This is called “secondary inspection,” and it is not an uncommon procedure for anyone returning with an Advance Parole document.

Commonly Asked Questions About the Naturalization Process

USCIS has developed responses to several frequently asked questions related to the naturalization process and interview and test.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for U.S. citizenship?

No. You can file USCIS forms yourself, including Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, which can be submitted online. However, some people choose to seek assistance from a lawyer or Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)-accredited representative. If you decide to get legal assistance, you can start here: Find legal advice

Find help in your community Many people offer to help with immigration services. Unfortunately, not all of them are authorized or qualified to do so. If you are seeking legal help to complete your Application for Naturalization, please be aware that only attorneys and EOIR-accredited representatives can provide legal advice about which forms and documents to attach to your application, explain immigration options you may have, and communicate with USCIS about your case. For additional information, please review USCIS’ guidance on the unauthorized practice of immigration law. If you decide to submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, without legal assistance, obtain information about the naturalization application process and study materials to help you prepare for the naturalization test at the Citizenship Resource Center. Also visit, the N-400, Application for Naturalization page and read the instructions.

Does USCIS publish the naturalization test questions?

Yes. USCIS publishes a complete list of the 2008 and 2020 version of the civics test. For the 2008 version of the civics test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant 10 of the 100 civics test questions.

For the 2020 version of the civics test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant 20 of the 128 civics test questions. The USCIS officer will ask the applicant only the civics questions on the lists for both versions of the test. USCIS provides free educational resources to help applicants prepare for the naturalization test. Find study materials for the 2008 version of the civics test and English language test, as well as study materials for the 2020 version of the civics test to help you prepare. In addition, the Find Help in Your Community page allows individuals to search for low-cost or free citizenship classes throughout the United States.

Does USCIS make frequent changes to the questions on the naturalization test?

No. However, some answers may change because of elections or appointments. As you study for the test, make sure you know the most current answers to these questions. Visit the Civics Test Updates page to find answers to these specific questions.

Will I be asked all of the civics questions during the naturalization interview?

For the 2008 version of the civics test, there are 100 available civics questions on the naturalization test (PDF, 295.55 KB), but you will not be asked to answer all of them during your naturalization interview. You will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. You must answer 6 questions correctly to to pass the 2008 version of the civics test. For the 2020 version of the civics test, there are 128 available civics questions on the naturalization test, but you will not be asked to answer all of them during your naturalization interview. You must answer at least 12 of the 20 questions correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

Because my Green Card allows me to travel between the United States and my home country, can I live in both places until I am ready to apply for citizenship?

To qualify for citizenship, generally applicants must demonstrate they have continuously resided in the United States for at least 5 years before submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This means you must be residing exclusively in the United States – not in any other country. You may travel to another country, including your home country, provided no other legal impediment precludes you from doing so. However, if a trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you have not continuously resided in the United States and therefore are ineligible for naturalization. In addition to examining the length of your trip abroad, USCIS will look at the frequency of your travel. To qualify for naturalization, an applicant must spend at least half of their time in the United States. This is known as the “physical presence” requirement. If you take frequent, short trips abroad that result in you spending more than half your time outside the United States, then you will also be ineligible for naturalization. The requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” are interrelated but are different requirements. A naturalization applicant must satisfy each requirement to be eligible for naturalization.

Will USCIS approve my Form N-400 naturalization application once I pass the reading, writing, and civics portions of the naturalization test?

No. In addition to preparing for the reading, writing, and civics portion of the naturalization test, you will need to prepare for the speaking portion of the naturalization test and meet all other naturalization requirements. The speaking test occurs during the eligibility review. USCIS offers interactive practice tests to help you prepare. During your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will review the responses you provided on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with you. The USCIS officer will ask questions to clarify or confirm your responses. Prepare yourself for the English speaking test by making sure you understand each question on the application and can respond to each question according to your situation. You have demonstrated an ability to speak English if you generally understand and can respond accurately to the USCIS officer. Applicants may ask the USCIS officer to repeat or rephrase questions during the naturalization interview. For additional information on how USCIS officers assess English language abilities, please see the Scoring Guidelines for the U.S. Naturalization Test (PDF, 121.39 KB). Certain applicants, because of age and time as a lawful permanent resident, are exempt from the English requirements for naturalization and may take the civics test in the language of their choice. For more information, see exceptions and accommodations.

Can I legally change my name while my naturalization application is pending?

Yes. You can legally change your name after filing your application for naturalization with USCIS. If your name has changed after you filed a naturalization application, you must promptly provide USCIS with the document(s) that legally changed your name(s), such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order, or other official record. Make sure to mention your name change and bring the documents related to your name change at the time of the interview. You can also legally change your name when you naturalize. The instructions to Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, include information on what is required when you wish to change your name at the time of naturalization. At the time of the interview, the USCIS officer will record the name change request and ask you to sign a name change petition, which USCIS files with a court before the judicial oath ceremony. Upon receipt of the petition, the court signs and seals the petition. The petition is later presented to you during the naturalization ceremony as evidence of the name change. All name change requests facilitated through USCIS will require you to take the oath of allegiance at a judicial ceremony, rather than an administrative one. As far as possible delays, USCIS has little control over the judicial ceremony calendar. However, most courts are very supportive in accommodating the need for naturalization ceremonies.

Do I need to bring original documents such as birth and marriage certificates to the naturalization interview?

Yes. You should bring certain original documents to your interview. In the instructions to Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, USCIS provides an extensive list of examples of original documents that you should bring to the interview, depending on different case scenarios. Examples of these documents include: original birth, marriage, divorce, final adoption and naturalization certificates; court orders/decrees; evidence of child support payments; court-certified arrest reports; and probation/parole records. Certain certified copies of documents can also be provided. You should also submit copies–preferably certified copies–of these documents at the initial filing of your application. These documents should be submitted as evidence in support of your application, and will facilitate the USCIS officers’ review of your request.

When should I submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions?

Applicants for naturalization seeking an exception to the English and/or civics requirements for naturalization because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment are encouraged to submit this form at the time they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with USCIS. However, USCIS recognizes that certain circumstances may prevent concurrent filing of the naturalization application and the disability exception form. Accordingly, an applicant may file the disability exception form during any part of the naturalization process, including after the application is filed but before the first examination, during the first examination, during the re-examination if the applicant’s first examination was rescheduled, and during the rehearing on a denied naturalization application.

How will I know what the decision is on the Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, I submitted?

The decision on your Form N-648 will be made at the time of your naturalization interview. If your Form N-648 is found to be sufficient, and the licensed medical professional who completed your Form N-648 indicated on the form that you were unable to comply with all of the educational requirements, the officer will conduct the eligibility interview in your language of choice with the use of an interpreter and will not test you on any of the educational requirements. If your Form N-648 is found to be sufficient, and the licensed medical professional indicated on the form that you were unable to comply with only some of the educational requirements, the officer will administer the tests for the other requirements. You will be permitted to use an interpreter if the medical professional indicated that you were unable to comply with the English speaking requirement. If your Form N-648 is found to be insufficient, the officer must proceed with the eligibility interview in English and administer all portions of the English and civics testing as if you had not submitted Form N-648.

What should I do if I have already applied for naturalization and my Permanent Resident Card, also known as “Green Card,” is expiring?

A lawful permanent resident is required to have valid, unexpired proof of lawful permanent residence in his or her possession at all times. Applying for naturalization does not change this requirement. For this reason, you must generally apply to renew your expiring Green Card even if you have applied for naturalization. For more information on renewing your Green Card, visit uscis.gov/green-card/after-we-grant-your-green-card/replace-your-green-card or uscis.gov/i-90.

If I fail a portion of the naturalization test, when will I be retested?

Unless you are eligible for an exception to the English or civics requirements, you will be given two opportunities to meet the English and civics requirements. If you fail any portion of these requirements, you will be retested during a new interview on the portion of the test that you failed (English or civics) between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview. Note: Due to recent policy changes, some applicants for naturalization may have the choice to take the 2008 or 2020 version of the civics test at their re-exam. Visit the 2020 version of the civics test page to learn more. See also the USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.

How many times can I apply for naturalization?

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