Chapter 2 - Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Admission for Naturalization

A. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) at Time of Filing and Naturalization

1. Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence

In general, an applicant for naturalization must be at least 18 years old and must establish that he or she has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence at the time of filing the naturalization application. [1] An applicant is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) if his or her lawful permanent resident (LPR) status was obtained by mistake or fraud, or if the admission was otherwise not in compliance with the law. [2] 

In determining an applicant’s eligibility for naturalization, USCIS must determine whether the LPR status was lawfully obtained, not just whether the applicant is in possession of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC). If the status was not lawfully obtained for any reason, the applicant is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the INA, and is ineligible for naturalization even though the applicant possesses a PRC.

An applicant must also reside continuously in the United States for at least five years as an LPR at the time of filing, [3] though the applicant may file his or her application up to 90 days before reaching the five-year continuous residence period. [4] 

2. Effective Date of Lawful Permanent Residence

A person is generally considered to be an LPR at the time USCIS approves the applicant’s adjustment application or at the time the applicant enters and is admitted into the United States with an immigrant visa. [5] Most applicants applying for adjustment of status become LPRs on the date USCIS approves the application. [6] 

For certain classifications, however, the effective date of becoming an LPR may be a date that is earlier than the actual approval of the status (commonly referred to as a “rollback” date). For example, a person admitted under the Cuban Adjustment Act is generally an LPR as of the date of the person’s last arrival and admission into the United States or 30 months before the filing of the adjustment application, whichever is later. [7] A refugee is generally considered an LPR as of the date of entry into the United States. [8] A parolee granted adjustment of status pursuant to the Lautenberg Amendment is considered an LPR as of the date of parole into the United States. [9] In addition, USCIS generally considers an asylee’s date of admission as an LPR to be one year prior to the date of approval of the adjustment application. [10] 

B. Conditional Residence in the General Requirements (INA 316)

A conditional permanent resident (CPR) filing for naturalization under the general provision on the basis of his or her permanent resident status for five years [11] must have met all of the applicable requirements of the conditional residence provisions. [12] CPRs are not eligible for naturalization unless the conditions on their resident status have been removed because such CPRs have not been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the INA. [13] Unless USCIS approves the applicant’s Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751), the applicant remains ineligible for naturalization. [14] 

C. Exceptions

1. Nationals of the United States

The law provides an exception to the LPR requirement for naturalization for non-citizen nationals of the United States. Currently, persons who are born in American Samoa or Swains Island, which are outlying possessions of the United States, are considered nationals of the United States. [15] 

A non-citizen national of the United States may be naturalized without establishing lawful admission for permanent residence if he or she becomes a resident of any state [16] and complies with all other applicable requirements of the naturalization laws. These nationals are not “aliens” as defined in the INA and do not possess a PRC. [17] 

2. Certain Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

Certain members of the U.S. armed forces with service under specified conditions are also exempt from the LPR requirement. [18] 

D. Documentation and Evidence

USCIS issues a PRC to each person who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence as evidence of his or her status. LPRs over 18 years of age are required to have their PRC in their possession as evidence of their status. [19] The PRC contains the date and the classification under which the person was accorded LPR status. The PRC alone, however, is insufficient to establish that the applicant has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in accordance with all applicable provisions of the INA. [20] 


1. [^] See INA 101(a)(20) and INA 334(b). See 8 CFR 316.2(a)(2)

2. [^] See INA 318. See Matter of Koloamatangi (PDF), 23 I&N Dec. 548, 550 (BIA 2003). See Estrada-Ramos v. Holder, 611 F.3d 318 (7th Cir. 2010). See Mejia-Orellana v. Gonzales, 502 F.3d 13 (1st Cir. 2007). See De La Rosa v. DHS, 489 F.3d 551 (2nd Cir. 2007). See Savoury v. U.S. Attorney General, 449 F.3d 1307(11th Cir. 2006). See Arellano-Garcia v. Gonzales, 429 F.3d 1183 (8th Cir. 2005). See Monet v. INS, 791 F.2d 752 (9th Cir. 1986). See Matter of Longstaff, 716 F.2d 1439, 1441 (5th Cir. 1983).

3. [^] See Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3].

4. [^] See Chapter 6, Jurisdiction, Place of Residence, and Early Filing [12 USCIS-PM D.6].

5. [^] See INA 245(b).

6. [^] In general, a lawful permanent resident card should have the correct date of LPR status. For additional information on adjustment of status dates, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status [7 USCIS-PM].

7. [^] See Section 1 of the Cuban Adjustment Act, Pub. L. 89-732 (PDF), 80 Stat. 1161, 1161 (November 2, 1966). See Matter of Carrillo (PDF), 25 I&N Dec. 99 (BIA 2009).

8. [^] See INA 209(a)(2).

9. [^] See 8 CFR 1245.7(e).

10. [^] See INA 209(b). See Volume 7, Adjustment of Status [7 USCIS-PM].

11. [^] See INA 316(a).

12. [^] See INA 216

13. [^] See INA 216 and INA 318

14. [^] See Part G, Spouses of U.S. Citizens [12 USCIS-PM G]; Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens [12 USCIS-PM H]; and Part I, Military Members and their Families [12 USCIS-PM I], for special circumstances under which the applicant may not be required to have an approved petition to remove conditions prior to naturalization.

15. [^] See INA 101(a)(29) and INA 308.

16. [^] See INA 325. See 8 CFR 325.2. Non-citizen nationals may satisfy the residence and physical presence requirements through their residence and presence within any of the outlying possessions of the United States.

17. [^] See INA 101(a)(20).

18. [^] See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 3, Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329) [12 USCIS-PM I.3].

19. [^] See INA 264(e).

20. [^] See Section A, Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) at Time of Filing and Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM D.2(A)].

INA 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

INA 318 - Prerequisite to naturalization, burden of proof

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 335, 8 CFR 335 - Investigation of applicants, examination of applications

INA 336, 8 CFR 336 - Hearings on denials of applications for naturalization


No appendices available at this time.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

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This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].



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