PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES
ASK A LAWYER
Here are special classes of persons who may become naturalized even though
they cannot meet all of the normal requirements with the particular
exemptions for that class listed. Unless so listed, an applicant who comes
within a special class generally must still meet the normal requirements
and follow the regular procedures.
Wives and Husbands of United States Citizens
A person who is married to a citizen of the United States may become
naturalized in the same way as any other alien or may take advantage of
special naturalization exemptions that are granted to the spouse of a
citizen of the United States. These exemptions fall into two classes,
the first is granted simply because of the relationship to a citizen and
the second is granted because of the relationship to a citizen who is
stationed abroad. Both of these classes are discussed below.
Marriage to a Citizen
(1) whose spouse has been a citizen of the United States for at least
three years; and
(2) who has been married to and living with the citizen spouse for at
least the three-year period just before the date of filing an
application for naturalization may become a citizen of the United States
upon meeting all of the normal requirements for naturalization except:
Instead of five years' residence and 30 months' physical presence, the
applicant must reside in the United States for only three years after
being lawfully admitted for permanent residence and just before filing
the application. For at least one-half of that three-year period, or 18
months, the applicant must have been present in person in the United
Marriage to a Citizen Stationed Abroad
(1) whose spouse is a citizen of the United States working or serving in
a foreign country for one of the reasons below;
(2) who, upon becoming naturalized, will live abroad with the citizen
(3) who will again reside in the United States as soon as the foreign
work or service of the citizen spouse ends may become a citizen of the
United States if all the normal requirements for naturalization are met
(a) the application does not have to be filed in the place where the
applicant lives, but may be filed in any Service office; and
(b) the applicant may be naturalized without having resided in the
United States or any State, and without having been physically present
in the United States, for any particular length of time after being
lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
Generally, if the applicant is absent for one year or more at any one
time during the three-year period just before-filing the application, he
or she breaks naturalization residence and must complete a new period of
residence after returning to the United States. This means that he or
she will have to wait at least 2 years and 1 day after coming back
before he or she can be naturalized. Furthermore. if during the three-
year period he or she has been absent for a total of more than 18
months, he or she will have to stay in the United States until he or she
has been physically present for at least a total of 18 months out of the
last three years just before filing an application for naturalization.
Overseas assignment of Citizen Spouse
For the applicant to qualify for the exceptions mentioned previously,
the citizen spouse must be working or serving in the foreign country:
(1) in the employment of the United States Government (including service
in the armed forces of the United States);
(2) in the employment of an American institution of research recognized
by the Attorney General;
(3) in the employment of an American firm or corporation, or its
subsidiary, which is developing the foreign trade of the United States;
(4) in the employment of certain public international organizations in
which the United States takes part;
(5) under authority to perform the functions of a minister or priest of
a religious denomination having an organization within the United
(6) under an engagement solely as a missionary by a religious
denomination or by an interdenominational mission organization having an
organization within the United States.
The applicant must include with the application a written statement
indicating that the citizen spouse's employment meets these
qualifications, that the applicant intends to reside abroad with the
citizen spouse, and that the applicant intends to take up residence
within the United States immediately upon the termination of such
employment abroad of the citizen spouse.
Surviving Spouse of United States Citizen Service Member
Any person whose citizen spouse dies during a period of honorable and
active service in the armed forces of the United States, and who was
living in marital union with the citizen spouse at the time of the
service member's death, may become a citizen of the United States if all
the normal requirements are met except:
(a) the application does not have to be filed in the place where the
applicant lives, but may be filed in any Service office; and
(b) the applicant may be naturalized without having been physically
present in the United States for any particular length of time after
being lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
Naturalization of Children of Citizen Parents
The fact that one or both parents may have been citizens of the United
States at the time of a child's birth in a foreign country, or may have
become naturalized citizens of the United States after the child's birth
is not enough in itself to give United States Citizenship automatically
to the child. Additional conditions which must be satisfied by the
parents and child affect the question of whether the child becomes a
citizen. A child who is under 18 years of age and a lawful permanent
resident, who is not a citizen automatically through the parents, may
nevertheless become a citizen if an application for naturalization is
filed by the citizen parent on behalf of the child under certain
(1) The citizen parent must file an "Application for Naturalization,"
Form N-400, with the required fee.
(2) The child is required to submit a fingerprint chart, Form FD-258, if
14 years of age or older.
(3) The child's naturalization -- admission to citizenship -- must be
completed before the child's 18th birthday.
The child and a parent (not necessarily the parent who filed the
application on behalf of the child) would be required to appear at an
oath ceremony to be administered the oath of allegiance, unless the
child is of tender years, in which case the administration of the oath
may be waived.
The child does not have to:
(1) speak, read, or write English;
(2) know about the history and form of government of the United
(3) have lived or been physically present in the United States or in a
State for any particular length of time after admission for permanent
Naturalization of Adopted Children of Citizen Parents
A child who is adopted by a citizen parent or parents does not
automatically become a United States citizen.
A child adopted either in the United States or abroad by two citizen
parents (or only one parent if the parent is unmarried) and admitted to
the United States as a lawful permanent resident before reaching the age
of 18 years may naturalize if the child:
(1) is under 18 years of age;
(2) was adopted before reaching the age of 16 by the citizen parent(s);
(3) is residing in the United States in the custody of the adopting
citizen parent(s), pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent
(4) at least one of the citizen parents files Form N-643, "Application
for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child," before
the child reaches the age of 18, with the Immigration and Naturalization
(5) the parents are be citizens at the time of filing the application.
The child is not a citizen until the N-643 is approved.
The child may also be naturalized under the procures outlined in the
section entitled Naturalization of Children. This would be the only
procedure available if the parents wish to change the child name as a
part of the naturalization or if the adoptive parents are married and
only one is a United States citizen.
Former United States Citizens
The only former citizens of the United States who are granted any
exceptions from the requirements for naturalization in Pads 2 and 3 are
persons who lost their United States citizenship during World War II as
a result of service in the armed forces of certain foreign countries and
women who lost their United States citizenship as a result of marriage
to aliens. Both of these classes are discussed below:
Veterans of Foreign Armed Forces
Any person who:
(1) lost United States citizenship between September 1, 1939 and
September 2, 1945;
(2) as a result of service between September 1, 1939 and September 2,
1945 in the armed forces of a foreign country; and
(3) fought against a country with which the United States was at war
after December 7, 1941 and before September 2, 1945, may become a
citizen of the United States if he or she meets all of the requirements
for naturalization in Parts 2 and 3 except:
(a) the application for naturalization does not have to be filed in the
place where he or she lives, but it can be filed in any Service office;
(b) he or she can be naturalized without having resided and without"
having been physically present in the United States or any State for any
particular length of time after admission for permanent residence.
American Women Who Married Aliens
As a general rule, a woman automatically lost her United States
citizenship if, before September 22, 1922, she married an alien, or her
husband was naturalized in a foreign country, or if, between that date
and March 3, 1931, she married an alien who was not of the white race or
African race. In each of these instances, she lost her citizenship if
she entered into the marriage with the intention of relinquishing her
United States citizenship.
If citizenship was lost by such marriage, there are simplified ways in
which United States citizenship and the rights of citizenship may be
regained. However, not all cases follow the same procedure. For example,
some women who were native-born citizens and whose marriages either
ended before January 13, 1941, or who remained in the United States
after the marriages, have been automatically given back their United
States citizenship, but they must take an oath of allegiance to the
United States before they can do what only a citizen can do, such as
vote. Others must file an application for naturalization in order to get
back their United States citizenship, but they are exempt from some of
the requirements in Parts 2 and 3, such as from any particular period of
residence and physical presence in the United States.
Any woman who was the wife of an alien at any time during the periods
stated above and who wants advice about her citizenship may get it at
the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or, if
she is abroad, at the nearest American Consulate.
Service Members of the Military or Veterans
An alien who has served or is serving in .the armed forces of the United
States does not automatically become a citizen of the United States.
Like other aliens, such alien must apply for naturalization and be
admitted to citizenship. However, depending upon such matters as the
period during which he or she served, the length of service, and other
factors which will be mentioned below- he or she may be exempt from some
of the requirements other aliens must meet.
Military Service During Certain Periods
A person who has served honorably and actively in the armed forces of
the United States, no matter how briefly, during any part of the
(a) April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918;
(b) September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946;
(c) June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955;
(d) February 28, 1961, to October 15, 1978; or
(e) October 25, 1983 to November 2, 1983 (for qualifying active duty
in the geographic area of Grenada campaign), and who is not within any
of the below listed ineligible classes is exempt from the following
(1) No lawful admission for permanent residence is required if he or she
was inducted, enlisted or reenlisted at any time in the United States,
the Panama Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swains Island. If he or she
did not at any time enter into such armed forces in one of the places
mentioned he or she must have been lawfully admitted for permanent
residence before he or she can be naturalized.
(2) He or she need not have resided or been physically present in the
United States or any State for any particular length of time.
(3) He or she does not have to file the application in the place where
he or she lives, but can file it in any Service office.
(4) He or she may be naturalized regardless of the fact that the person
has been ordered deported from the United States.
Ineligible Service Members
The following persons do not qualify for the special naturalization
exemptions discussed immediately above:
(1) veterans who were discharged at their request because of alienage;
(2) conscientious objectors who performed no military duty whatever or
refused to wear the uniform; or
(3) veterans who were once naturalized on the basis of the same period
of military service and have since lost their citizenship.
The fact that a person is ineligible for naturalization as such a
veteran does not mean that he or she may not be naturalized under the
general naturalization laws applicable to other classes of aliens. He or
she may still qualify for naturalization if able to meet the
naturalization requirements applicable to other aliens.
Service for Three Years
Veterans who have been lawfully admitted to the United States for
permanent residence and who have served honorably at any time for as
much as three years, and who have received an honorable discharge, are
entitled to certain exemptions from the normal requirements if they come
within one of the following classes:
(1) When Three Years' Service Continuous. A person who has served
honorably at any time in the armed forces of the United States for a
continuous period of three years and who applies for naturalization
while still in the service or not later than six months after discharge
from service may be naturalized:
(a) without having resided and without having been physically present in
the United States for any particular length of time;
(b) without filing the application for naturalization in the place of
residence, it may be filed in any Service office; and
(c) regardless of the fact that the person has been ordered deported
from the United States.
(2) When Three Years' Service Not Continuous. A person who has served
honorably at any time for three years but whose service is made up of
short periods of service, instead of one continuous period, and who
applies for naturalization while still in the service or not later than
six months after discharge from service is entitled to the exemptions
stated in (b) and (c) immediately above. However, for any part of the
five years just before he or she files the application for
naturalization and which is between the periods of service, he or she
will have to prove residence and the other qualifications for
(3) Application Made More Than Six Months After Service Ends. A person
who has the three years of honorable service but who fails to apply for
naturalization until more than six months after such service has ended
is not qualified for the exemptions stated in (1) above and must comply
with all requirements except that:
(a) all service within five years of the date when filing the
application is considered residence and physical presence in the United
(b) the fact that the person has been ordered deported from the United
States does not in itself bar him or her from becoming a citizen.
If a service member for any reason is unable to qualify for the
exemptions given to these veterans he or she may nevertheless be
naturalized under the naturalization laws applicable to other classes of
aliens if those requirements are met.
Note to persons with three years of service who must apply for
naturalization within six months after discharge: the application must
be filed with the Service office within the six month period.
A merchant mariner whose employment aboard a vessel requires absence
from the United States is exempt in part from the general residence and
physical presence requirements for naturalization. He or she has the
right to count the time of service as a merchant mariner outside the
United States if such service was not as a member of the armed forces of
the United States and it meets the-below listed conditions.
(1) It was performed on board a vessel:
(a) operated by the United States or one of its agencies and owned by
the United States;
(b) with its home port in the United States and registered under the
laws of the United States; or
(c) with its home port in the United States and owned by a citizen of
the United States or a corporation organized under the laws of a State.
(2) It was performed:
(a) honorably or with good conduct;
(b) after lawful admission to the United Sites for permanent
(c) within five years of the date of filing the application for
Employees of Organizations Promoting United States Interests Abroad
A person who has been lawfully admitted to this country for permanent
residence and who thereafter is employed abroad by a United States
incorporated nonprofit organization which is principally engaged in
conducting abroad through communications media the dissemination of
information which significantly promotes United States interests abroad
and which is recognized as such by the Attorney General, may take
advantage of special naturalization exemptions. Examples of such an
organization are Radio Free Europe, Inc., Radio Liberty Committee, and
Such a person is not required to reside or to be physically present in
the United States for any particular period of time before becoming a
citizen, if the following conditions are met
(1) he or she has been employed by the organization continuously for at
least five years after becoming a permanent resident;
(2) the application is filed with the Service office while the applicant
is still employed, or within six months after leaving such employment;
(3) upon becoming a citizen, the employee must intend to take up
residence in this country as soon as the foreign employment ends. If the
applicant is no longer employed by the organization at the time of
filing the application, then he or she must intend to continue living in
the United States upon becoming a citizen.
Posthumous citizenship may be granted to an alien or noncitizen national
of the United States who died as a result of injury or disease incurred
in, or aggravated by service, in the United States Armed Forces during a
specified period of military hostilities.
This is an honorific action which does not confer any benefits nor make
applicable any provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act to the
surviving spouse, parent, son, daughter, or other relative of the
The decedent's nearest relative, or a properly appointed representative,
may request this benefit on Form N-644, "Application for Posthumous
Citizenship," with the required fee.
excerpted from Form N-17 (Rev 11/30/92) N
by Dept of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.