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How the Permanent Residency Rule Works When Applying for Naturalization

July 19, 2022
  By Saman Movassaghi

When you’re trying to gain citizenship in the United States, you need to read up on the rules for naturalization. One thing you’ve heard of is permanent residency, and you’re wondering how it works when you’re on your path towards citizenship. By finding out more, you can start your journey and hopefully become a citizen down the line.

What Is Permanent Residency? 

You may have heard of a green card. Technically, this is a permanent resident card, and it allows you to work and live in the United States indefinitely. It expires every 10 years, so you need to renew it. Another option is to become a citizen after you’ve had your permanent resident card for five years. This is the most popular way that people become U.S. citizens.

How to Become a Citizen Through a Permanent Resident Card

You can gain citizenship if you’ve had your permanent resident card for five years. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. You must have lived in the U.S. continuously for five years; if you live outside of the United States for one year and one day during one trip, you will lose your green card status. This means that if you plan on going back home or working somewhere else part-time, it cannot be for that long. You’ll need to break up your trips outside of the country. 

After five years of continuously residing in the U.S. with your green card, you can then fill out Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization. There are a number of requirements when filling out this application. For instance, you must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the state for at least three months before you file the application there, and be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the five years you were a green card holder. You need to also pass a U.S. history and government test, along with an English test, and be of good moral character.

The filing fee for Form N-400 is $640, and you can file your form and pay fees online or through the mail. 

Becoming Eligible for a Permanent Resident Card

To become eligible for a permanent resident card in the first place, you can get it through family; for instance, you may be the spouse of a U.S. citizen or the parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old. You may also be an immigrant worker, which is broken up into first, second, and third preference, or you could potentially get your green card if you’re a refugee seeking asylum. There are also green cards available for victims of abuse and human trafficking. 

If you meet one of the eligibility requirements, then fill out Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, to start your green card application. The USCIS will interview you. If you receive a green card, you can have it for up to 10 years before you need to renew it. Note that there are fees and supporting documents you’ll need to provide when you file Form I-485. 

Contact a Florida Immigration Attorney

Do you have questions about becoming a permanent resident in the U.S. or applying for naturalization? Then contact Florida Immigration Law Counsel through our website or by calling 1-800-666-4996. We deal with the government so you don’t have to. We look forward to assisting you. 

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