Can I Travel While Naturalizing?
While you are applying for naturalization in the United States, you are allowed to travel. There are no travel restrictions after completing your Form N-400, also called the Naturalization Application. You are free to go abroad while your application is processed, one of the benefits of legal permanent residence or a green cardholder. However, there are some factors that you might want to take into consideration before traveling to minimize the risk of running into any problems.
Important Information to Keep in Mind before Traveling During the Naturalization Process
- Naturalization Appointments
During the naturalization process, it is mandatory to attend three crucial appointments. Traveling during this time may slow down your N-400 process timeline because you might have to reschedule these appointments. Within a few weeks of filing your naturalization application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for you. The naturalization interview, which will take place in a few months, will be the second appointment for most naturalization candidates. Finally, permanent residents are sworn in as citizens of the United States during the oath-taking ceremony. If the appointment letters are ignored, USCIS may deny the N-400, so it is best to make these appointments before planning a trip abroad. Traveling outside the US for a short time after completing Form N-400 is usually not a problem if you maintain your appointments. In addition, if you must travel for an extended period throughout the naturalization process, entrusting all USCIS communications to a trustworthy friend or family member to ensure you are constantly updated while you are away will help you avoid any possible issues.
- Continuous Residence & Physical Presence requirements
It would help if you met continuous residency and physical presence criteria while traveling overseas. The length of your trip is another element to consider, particularly if you are traveling outside the country. After completing Form N-400, the continuous residency and physical presence criteria for naturalization remain in effect. As a result, you must not go on a long trip (not more than 180 days), and you must always keep track of your time spent outside the country. If you are outside the US for six months or longer, USCIS will assume you’ve broken the continuous residency requirement. Denial of your N-400 may occur if an interruption in continuous residence is established.
Individuals who have already spent a significant amount of time outside the United States within their statutory period should avoid going too far. The criteria for being eligible for people applying based on five years of permanent residence is thirty months of physical presence in the United States. Travelling will continue to count against the physical presence criterion during the naturalization process.
To conclude, you are free to travel outside the United States after filing for naturalization. However, keep in mind that Permanent residents will be subject to inspection and will be required to show legitimate proof of permanent residency (usually a green card) when reentering the United States. Furthermore, all applicants should be aware of travel’s impact on their application. Before making travel plans, it is advisable to first consult with a competent immigration lawyer.