Requesting Recognition as an American Institution of Research

The law generally requires that applicants for naturalization must have resided continuously in the United States during a period of 5 years (3 years in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens) before applying. However, the law allows an exception in the case of applicants who are or will be working abroad as employees of a recognized American institution of research (AIR). For more information see a current list of AIRs recognized by USCIS.

By obtaining USCIS recognition an American institution of research, an organization can enable its permanent resident noncitizen employees who will work continually abroad for a year or more to preserve their continuous residence status for naturalization purposes. To do this the requesting organization may follow the instructions below.

Submitting the request for recognition

An appropriate administrative official of the proposed AIR should execute a signed request in affidavit form and submit it to the Field Office Director (FOD) of the local USCIS field office having jurisdiction over its principal campus or headquarters. At a minimum, the request should include the following information:

  • The name and title of the administrative official making the request, and a certification that he or she has authority to make the request on behalf of the organization
  • The name of the institution which he represents
  • The date(s) of establishment, location(s), and physical description of the institution’s research facilities; and
  • Facts supporting the organization’s status as an AIR, including information detailing the nature of the research conducted and printed literature concerning its operations

If the organization’s standing as a research institution is not sufficiently known to the FOD, it should submit additional evidence, such as the following:

  • Articles of incorporation and governance
  • Federal and state licenses, if any, indicating operating status
  • The organization’s last three years of corporate tax returns
  • Membership(s) in professional organizations and associations, if any
  • Accreditation status, if any
  • Information regarding any previous request(s) made for recognition as an AIR and the outcome

If the requesting organization operates principally outside the United States, it should also provide evidence that its ownership or governance is American.

USCIS may request any additional evidence that it considers necessary to make an informed decision.

Use of the recognition by applicants for naturalization

Once an institution has been recognized by the FOD as an AIR, any naturalization applicant who will be going abroad for research in the employment of that institution will be eligible to file a Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, which will enable the applicant to preserve his or her continuity of residence for any absence that will last a year or longer.


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