Chapter 4: Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad

A. General Eligibility for ​Spouses ​of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad​

The spouse of a ​U.S.​ citizen who ​is ​“regularly stationed abroad” in ​qualifying employment ​may be eligible for naturalization on the basis of their marriage​.​ [1] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2. See Section C, Qualifying Employment Abroad [12 USCIS-PM G.4(C)].S​pouses ​otherwise eligible ​under this provision are exempt from the continuous residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization​.​ [2] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(6).

The spouse must establish that he or she meets the following criteria in order to qualify:​

A​ge 18 or older​ at the time of filing​.​

LPR at the time of filing the naturalization application​.​

Continue to be the spouse of the U.S. citizen up until the time the applicant takes the ​O​ath of​ A​llegiance​.​

Married to a U.S. c​itizen spouse​regularly stationed abroad in qualifying employment for at least one year​.​

Has a ​good faith intent ​to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen spouse ​upon naturalization ​and to reside in the United States immediately upon the citizen spouse’s termination of ​employment ​abroad​.​

Establish that he or she will depart to join the citizen spouse within 30 to 45 days after the date of naturalization​.​ [3] See 8 CFR 319.2(b).

U​nderstand​ing of basic​ English,​includ​ing​ the ability to read, write, and speak​.​

Knowledge of basic U.S. history and government​.​

Demonstrate good moral character for at least three years prior to filing the application ​until the time of naturalization.​ [4] See INA 319(a). See 8 CFR 319.1(a)(7) and 8 CFR 319.2(a)(5).

A​ttachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and​well-disposed​ to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law​.​

The period for showing good moral character (GMC) ​for spouses employed abroad is not specifically ​stated ​in the ​corresponding ​statute ​and ​regulation.​ [5] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(5). USCIS ​follows the statutory ​three-year ​GMC ​period ​preceding filing (until naturalization) ​specified for spouses of U.S. citizens​ residing in the United States.​ [6] See INA 319(a). See 8 CFR 319.1(a)(7).

In general, the spouse is required to be present in the United States after admission as an LPR for his or her naturalization examination and for taking the Oath of Allegiance for naturalization.​ [7] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2.

A spouse of a member of the U.S. military applying under this provision may also qualify for naturalization under INA 316(a) or INA 319(a), which could permit him or her to be eligible for overseas processing of the naturalization application, to include interviews, filings, oaths, ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to naturalization.​ [8] See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 9, Spouses, Children, and Surviving Family Benefits, Section B, Spouses of Military Members [12 USCIS-PM I.9(B)]. See INA 319(e). See 8 U.S.C. 1443a.

B. Marital Union for Spouses ​Employed ​A​broad​

The spouse of a ​U.S.​ citizen employed abroad is not required to have lived in marital union with his or her citizen spouse.​ [9] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.1(b)(1). See Chapter 2, Marriage and Marital Union for Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM G.2]. The spouse only needs to show that he or she is in a legally valid marriage ​with a U.S. citizen ​from the date of ​filing the application ​until the time of the Oath of Allegiance.​ [10] See Chapter 2, Marriage and Marital Union for Naturalization, Section A, Validity of Marriage [12 USCIS-PM G.2(A)].Such spouses who are not living in marital union still have to show ​intent​ to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen spouse abroad and take up residence in the United States upon termination of the qualifying employment abroad.​ [11] See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(4).

C. Qualifying Employment Abroad​

Qualifying employment abroad means to be under employment contract or orders​and to assume the duties of employment​in any of following entities​ or positions​:​ [12] See INA 319(b)(1)(B).

Government of the ​United States​ (including the ​U.S.​ armed forces)​;​

American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General​;​ [13] See 8 CFR 316.20(a). See www.uscis.gov/AIR lists of recognized organizations.

American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the ​United States​, or a subsidiary thereof​;​

P​ublic international organization in which the ​United States​ participates by treaty or statut​e;​ [14] See 8 CFR 319.5 and 8 CFR 316.20(b).

A​uthorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization within the ​United States​; or​

E​ngaged solely as a missionary by a religious denomination or by an interdenominational mission organization having a bona fide organization within the United States​.​

D. Calculating Period ​“​Regularly Stationed Abroad​”​

A​ person applying f​or naturalization based on marriage to a U.S. citizen ​employed abroad ​must establish that his or her citizen spouse is regularly stationed abroad​. ​A citizen spouse is regularly stationed abroad if he or she engages in qualifying employment abroad for at least ​one year.​ [15] See INA 319(b)(1)(B) and INA 319(b)(1)(C). See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(1). See Section G, Application and Evidence [12 USCIS-PM G.4(G)].Both the statute and its corresponding regulation are silent on when to begin calculating the specified period regularly stationed abroad.​ [16] See INA 319(b)(1)(B) and INA 319(b)(1)(C). See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(1).

As a matter of ​policy,​ USCIS calculates the period of qualifying employment abroad from the time the applicant spouse properly files for naturalization.​ [17] This policy is effective as of January 22, 2013, effective date of first publication of the USCIS Policy Manual and will not be applied retroactively.However, this policy does not alter the requirement that the applicant must intend to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen spouse after naturalization.​ [18] See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(4).

Accordingly, the spouse of the U.S. citizen employed abroad may naturalize if his or her U.S. citizen’s qualifying employment abroad is scheduled to last for at least one year at the time of filing, even if less than one year of such employment remains at the time of the naturalization interview or Oath of Allegiance provided that the spouse remains employed abroad at the time of naturalization.​

The burden is on the applicant to establish that ​his or her U.S. citizen’s qualifying employment abroad is scheduled to last for at least one year from the time of filing.​

E. Exception to Continuous Residence and Physical Presence​ Requirement​s​

Spouses of ​U.S.​ citizens who are regularly stationed abroad under qualifying employmen​t may be eligible to ​file for​ naturaliz​ation​ immediately after obtaining LPR status in the ​United States​. Such spouses are ​not required to have any prior period of residence or specified period of physical presence within the ​United States​ in order to qualify for naturalization.​ [19] See INA 319(b)(3). See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(6). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 5, Modifications and Exceptions to Continuous Residence and Physical Presence [12 USCIS-PM D.5].

F. In the U​nited States for ​Examination​ and Oath​ of Allegiance​

A spouse of a U.S. citizen who is regularly stationed abroad under qualifying employment ​is required​ to​be in​ the United States ​pursuant to an admission as an LPR ​for ​the ​naturalization ​examination​ a​nd ​the Oath of Allegiance for naturalization.​ [20] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2. Spouses of members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for overseas processing. See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 9, Spouses, Children, and Surviving Family Benefits, Section B, Spouses of Military Members [12 USCIS-PM I.9(B)].

G. Application and Evidence​

Application for Naturalization (​Form N-400​)​

To apply for naturalization, the spouse of a U.S. citizen ​employed ​abroad must submit a​n Application for Naturalization (​Form N-400​)​ in accordance with the form instructions and ​with ​the required fee.​ [21] See 8 CFR 319.11(a). See 8 CFR 103.7(b)(1). The ​applicant ​should check the ​“other”​ eligibility option on the naturalization application ​and​ indicate that he or she is applying ​pursuant to ​INA ​319(b) ​on the basis of marriage to a ​U.S.​ citizen​who is or will be regularly stationed ​abroad​. ​

Evidence of Spouse’s United States Citizenship​

Under this provision, the burden is on the applicant to establish that he or she is married ​to ​a ​U.S.​ citizen.​ [22] See Chapter 2, Marriage and Marital Union for Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM G.2]. A spouse of a ​U.S.​ citizen must submit with the application ​evidence​ to establish the ​U.S.​ citizenship of his or her spouse.​ [23] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.2(a).

Evidence of ​U.S.​ citizenship may include:​

Certificate of birth in the United States;​

Department of State Consular Report of Birth Abroad (FS-240);​

Certificate of Citizenship;​

Certificate of Naturalization; and​

Valid and unexpired United States Passport.​

If an official civil record cannot be produced, secondary evidence may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. An officer has the right to request an original record if there is doubt as to the authenticity of the record.​ [24] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(5). See 8 CFR 319.1 and 8 CFR 319.2.

Evidence of Citizen Spouse’s Employment Abroad​

Along with his or her naturalization application, the applicant must submit evidence demonstrating t​he​ spouse’s qualifying employment abroad.​ [25] See INA 319(b). See 8 CFR 319.11(a).

Such evidence may include:​

The name of the employer and either the nature of the employer’s business or the ministerial, religious, or missionary activity in which the employer is engaged;​

Whether the employing entity is owned in whole or in part by ​United States​ interests;​

Whether the employing entity is engaged in whole or in part in the development of the foreign trade and commerce of the ​United States​;​

The nature of the activity in which the citizen spouse is engaged;​ and​

The anticipated period of employment abroad​.​

Evidence of Applicant’s Intent to Reside Abroad with ​Citizen ​Spouse​ and Return to the ​United States ​Upon Termination of Qualifying Employment​

Along with his or her naturalization application, an applicant for naturalization under INA 319(b) must submit a statement ​describing his or her intent ​to reside abroad with the citizen spouse and​ his or her intent ​to take up residence within the ​United States​ immediately upon the termination of such employment abroad of the citizen spouse.​ [26] See 8 CFR 319.2(a)(4).