Can I apply for naturalization ifmy husband is a US citizen and lives outside the US?

My husband is a US citizen and we have been married for 4 years. He works for a 501 C3 non-profit organization that is primarily funded by the US government. /they sent him to Hong Kong to work several months ago. As I am unable to work there I moved home a year ago to the UK for a job. I called USCIS before I left and they told me I could keep my green card if I visited the US every year, however, on my current trip to the US the man at immigration said this was incorrect and I need to apply for a re-entry permit. Can I apply for naturalization, do I also need a re-entry permit?

Asked on October 10, 2011 under Immigration Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you are a green card holder, you cannot be outside the US for longer than 6 months at any given time and if you plan to be outside for a longer period of time, you do need to apply for a reentry permit. That will allow you to be outside the US for up to 2 years without having to return and allow you to still maintain your permanent resident status.  As far as your ability to naturalize, in order to do so, you have to have been a permanent resident for 3 years (if married to a US citizen on the basis of which you got your green card) AND you have to have been physically present in the US for at least one half of that time.  Once you have satisfied both of those conditions, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization.  In order to apply for naturalization, you have to be physically present in the US.


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