Permanent Residency

Definitions

Dual Nationality - The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance. However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there.

Immigrants - as defined by U.S. immigration law, are persons lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States.

Naturalization - Legal Permanent Residents may apply for naturalization which is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). An applicant is eligible to file if, immediately preceding the filing of the application, he or she:

  • Has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (see preceding section).
  • Has resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year.
  • Has been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant's continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period).
  • Has resided within a state or district for at least three months.

Last Updated: November 26, 2012