COVID-19 Update: COVID-19 Vaccination Required Starting October 1 Read More

All Green Card applicants, who receive their medical examination from either a Panel Physician or a Civil Surgeon on or after October 1, 2021, will need to show evidence of vaccination for COVID-19, or provide a valid reason why they should not be held to the new requirement. See Full Details

Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

Form N-470 for Naturalization Preservation

Legally becoming a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization can take quite a while. There are rules as to how long you must be in the U.S. which must be adhered to if you wish to adjust your status. For those who come over through employment visas and are then sent to another country to work, there is United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form N-470 to help them stay within legal boundaries. 

What Is Form N-470?

N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, is a USCIS form that helps those applying for naturalization in the U.S. It allows lawful permanent residents who have to leave for employment purposes to preserve their continuous residency. Filing Form N-470 can even lead to the time you spend outside the U.S. counting towards your residency requirements.

What Is Continuous Residency?

When an individual is applying for naturalization to be a U.S. citizen with Form N-400, there are certain requirements that must be met. Some of them are about the amount of time spent in the U.S. as a resident and physically present. 

Typically, N-400 applicants must have lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. for five years before filing for naturalization. Out of those five years, the applicant must have been physically present for at least 30 months, or half of the residency period. 

Qualifying spouses of N-400 applicants must have been residents for three years before filing, and have been physically present for at least 18 months of that time.

If a lawful permanent resident leaves the U.S. and remains away uninterrupted for more than a year, their residency requirements will be reset. An individual can protect their resident status if they file a Form N-470 before leaving. 

Who Can File Form N-470?

You may only file an N-470 form if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You have resided in the U.S. with no absences for at least one year after you were admitted as a lawful permanent resident (LPR). This period must have no interruptions. You will be exempt if you are an LPR as a temporary religious worker.
  • You are going to be absent from the U.S. for at least one year.
  • You have a qualifying job with a private sector, religious organization, or the U.S. government.
  • You would like to continue your residency towards meeting naturalization requirements.

If you file Form N-470 and it is approved by USCIS, your spouse and all dependent unmarried children will receive the same benefit so long as they are members of the same household and live with you abroad. 

Religious workers will not need to meet the one year residency requirement before filing Form N-470. They can apply before leaving the U.S., after leaving the U.S., or after they have returned to the U.S. This is because the nature of their jobs may often require extensive travel abroad. 

Qualifying Occupations

Not all jobs qualify for the N-470 residency preservation. A place of business will only be eligible to grant extended absence if it is one of the following:

  • A U.S. corporation that is 50% owned by U.S. nationals
  • A foreign subsidiary that is 50% owned by a U.S. company

Employees will not qualify for extended absence if they work for a subsidiary that is not owned at least 50% by a single U.S. company. If there are multiple U.S. companies with shares that add together to total 50%, it does not count. 

Reasons for Extended Absences

There are multiple reasons an individual might apply for employment abroad. Here are some of the tasks that may require a U.S. resident to go absent for this long:

  • A contract from the U.S. government or military
  • Conducting research for an American institution
  • Developing foreign trade and commerce for a U.S. company
  • Protecting property rights for a U.S. company on another country’s soil
  • Working with public international organizations the U.S. is a part of
  • Working as a religious member (part of a clergy, mission, nunnery, etc.) abroad for an organization in the U.S. 

Who Cannot File Form N-470?

There are a few key groups of individuals that do not need to file an N-470 form—citizens of the U.S., for example. Once an individual is already naturalized, there are other steps they must take to leave the country, as residency requirements have already been fulfilled. 

Another group that doesn’t need to file is lawful residents who don’t have any intention of naturalizing. While you may need to reobtain resident status before you can legally reenter the U.S., the main point of this application is to maintain residency for naturalization requirements.

Finally, spouses who are eligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) are exempt from continuous residence requirements, and therefore have no use for Form 470. 

N-470 Application Instructions

When filing an application to preserve resident status, there are six parts along with a seventh section for additional information. The N-470 form must be filled out before an individual leaves the U.S. to notify USCIS ahead of time unless they are a religious worker. Religious workers may apply before departure, after departure, or after they return to the U.S. 

Part 1

The first portion is for the applicant’s A-Number and information about the applicant’s eligibility. There are six boxes that indicate the reason for employment abroad, check the one that applies. 

Part 2

The next part is “Information About You,” and is where the applicant would provide all personal information which may be relevant to the application. This includes a social security number (SSN), USCIS account number(s), physical and mailing addresses, and times that the applicant has left the country.

Part 3

Part 3 is used to indicate which family members may be traveling abroad with the applicant. The petitioner will have to provide information, relationships, and A-Numbers for each individual traveling abroad.

Part 4

Part 4 is where the applicant must certify the statements which they made in the application thus far, provide contact information, and write their signature. They must also confirm whether or not they are using an interpreter for the application.

If an applicant in any way knowingly gives false or misleading information to USCIS on the N-470 form, it will be denied. Additionally, the applicant will face severe legal penalties and may lose other immigration benefits.

Part 5

If there was an interpreter involved in the process, Part 5 is where their personal information, contact information, and certification will need to be included.

Part 6

This part is reserved only for a preparer. A preparer is someone who fills out the application for the applicant. This could be the interpreter or another third party. They must provide their personal information, address, contact information, and signature. 

Part 7

Lastly, Part 7 is used to supply additional information for any of the previous sections. If there is not enough room to include the necessary information, fill out the page number, part number, and item number that the new info will cover and use the extra lines. 

Form N-470 Filing Fee

USCIS charges $355 to file an N-470 application. This amount can be paid by cashier’s check, personal check, or money order. Checks should be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You can also use Form G-1450 to make payments with a credit card. 

Sending a payment to USCIS indicates that you accept the terms of paying for a government service. This means that, regardless of the actions taken on your submitted application, you will not receive a refund.

N-470 Application Processing Time

USCIS case processing times depend on a number of factors, including case load, application complexity, and information supplied. The amount of time it will take for your local USCIS office to process your application may vary significantly. The most important thing you can do is ensure that all information is included and hire a legal professional to consult you throughout the process.

N-470 Reentry Permits

While the N-470 can be helpful for maintaining residency status, it does not guarantee reentry into the U.S. You still need to submit a reentry permit in advance if you would like to return after more than one year. 

Without a reentry permit, you may end up stranded abroad even though your N-470 was approved. If you do apply for a reentry permit, it will be valid for two years from the date of issuance.

In addition, USCIS N-470 does not exempt you from physical presence requirements. You still must fulfill a certain length of stay in the U.S. if you would like to become a naturalized citizen. Even if you have five years of residency, if you are not actually in the U.S. for the required amount of time, you will not be eligible for naturalization until you do. 

Chicago Immigration Law Firm

The immigration process has many small restrictions and added rules that you need to follow when applying for naturalization. Keeping track of these expectations can be very difficult when you are also dealing with a variety of other moving parts. Luckily, the experienced immigration attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. are here to help you through it.

Fill out our online contact form today to reach out to our legal team and get help filling out the necessary immigration forms.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!