Can I Travel After Filing the U.S. Citizenship Application?

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • Submitting Form N-400 for naturalization does not restrict travel abroad as a permanent resident.
  • Extended travel during the application process can impact appointment timing and overall process.
  • Crucial to attend the naturalization interview, biometrics appointment, and oath ceremony.
  • Continuous residence and physical presence requirements must be met; careful travel planning is essential to avoid application issues.

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.

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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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Can I Travel After Filing the U.S. Citizenship Application?

Yes, you can generally travel internationally after filing your U.S. citizenship application (Form N-400). However, there are some important considerations and precautions to keep in mind.

2. What Precautions Should I Take When Traveling After Filing for U.S. Citizenship?

  • Maintain Continuous Residence: It’s crucial to maintain continuous residence in the U.S. during the citizenship application process. Extended trips abroad may break your continuous residence and could affect your eligibility.
  • Be Aware of Travel Duration: Short trips (a few weeks or less) are generally acceptable. However, long trips or frequent extended travel may raise questions about your intent to establish your permanent home in the U.S.
  • Stay Informed About Application Status: Keep track of your application’s status and any requests for additional information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ensure you respond promptly to any USCIS requests.
  • Carry Relevant Documents: When traveling, carry copies of your green card (permanent resident card), your Form N-400 receipt notice, and other relevant immigration documents.
  • Return to Attend Biometrics and Interview Appointments: Be prepared to return to the U.S. for biometrics and citizenship interview appointments if required by USCIS.

3. Can Traveling Affect the Naturalization Process?

Excessive or lengthy travel outside the U.S. can potentially disrupt your continuous residence, which is a requirement for naturalization. USCIS may consider extended absences as evidence that you did not intend to make the U.S. your permanent home.

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

Yes, you can travel while your U.S. citizenship application is pending, but it’s important to do so cautiously and with an awareness of the potential implications on your application. Consult with an immigration attorney if you have concerns about your travel plans.

5. When Should I Consult an Immigration Attorney Regarding Travel and My Citizenship Application?

If you plan to travel extensively or have concerns about how your travel may impact your citizenship application, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney. They can provide guidance specific to your situation and help you navigate the naturalization process successfully.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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