Form I-131

Requirements for Naturalization in USA (Forms I-131/N-470)

Substantial transcription for video

Hello, everyone.  This is Rajiv S. Khanna for, the Law Offices of Rajiv S. Khanna, P.C.

I wanted to talk with you folks about requirements for naturalization for people who get their Green Card based upon employment and then have to stay outside USA for a certain period time.  Many of the criteria here are common to people who have obtained their Green Card through any other method such as through marriage or through political asylum.  Pretty much, it is the same law.  But I want to focus primarily on people who have gotten an employment-based Green Card, because those are the inquires I receive the most and I don’t want to miss anything, because N-470 typically does not apply to people in non-employment situations, except for missionaries.  I’ll get to that in a second.

So, first of all, let’s look at the requirements for somebody to get naturalized in USA.  What are the normal requirements?

Right here.  You must have received your Green Card approval five years ago.  Actually, it is a little bit more complicated than that.  You can apply 90 days before your 5th year anniversary of Green Card.  In case you got your Green Card through marriage, then it is three years, when you are married to a US citizen.  After that, you must have stayed in USA for at least 30 months physically.  2 ½ years.  Half the time.  You should not have visited outside USA for a year or more.  If you go outside USA for a year, your Green Card is gone.  It’s difficult to get it back.  Not impossible, but what you will have to do if you end up staying for a year or more outside USA is, you will have to go to the consulate and convince them that you have not abandoned your US permanent residence, your Green Card, and you can do that by a process called SB-1 (Returning Resident Permit).  I’m not going to go into that in too much detail, but just to give you an idea.  If you are outside USA for one year or more, for naturalization purposes, you have to start your five years all over again, except in the following two circumstances, I-131 and N-470, which are these.  I’ll get to that in a second as well.

So, physical presence of 2 ½ years, no visit outside USA for  a year or more, any visit outside USA for six months or more but less than one year, you have to explain.  Why were you gone that long?  So this is for people who have not filed these special forms called I-131 and N-470.  I also want to make a quick note about I-131 and N-470.

What is I-131?

It’s the same form you used for filing for Advanced Parole when you are in need of Advanced Parole during your Adjustment of Status.  It’s also the same form used for protecting your Green Card through a process called Reentry Permit.  So you use your 1-131 to apply for a Reentry Permit, which is typically given for two years at one go, and you can get that extended, depending on the circumstances.  Basically, the I-131 tells the government, “Look.  I am not abandoning my permanent residence.  I am just going outside temporarily.”  Once you file the I-131, things change for naturalization purposes.

Did you stay outside USA for one year continuously?

If you did, ordinarily, if you had not filed I-131, you would have to start five years all over again, if you have not lost your Green Card.  You could have even lost your Green Card.  But, if you had filed your I-131, you don’t lose your Green Card, and you also get a respite of one year.  When you come back, you have to establish your US residence for four years and one day instead of five years and apply after you have accumulated physical presence in USA for 2 ½ years.  It gives you one year off from those five years.  That’s an added advantage of I-131.  It protects your Green Card as much as humanly possible.  There’s more to it.  I would always advise you to talk with a lawyer before you take any steps of going outside USA for an extended period of time.  It also shortens the time of five years that you would have to otherwise accumulate for naturalization.

Did you stay outside USA for one year continuously after I-131?

If the answer is no, then these same requirements that apply to normal people will apply to you.  Physical presence of 30 months, no visit outside USA for a year or more, six months or more will have to be explained.

Then comes N-470.

N-470 is one of those tricky strange forms.  It’s applicable to a certain group of people.  I would strongly encourage you to read up on the instructions on N-470.  They’re pretty informative.

The way this works is, if you’re going to work for a US company abroad and, again, I am talking about employment context.  There are other reasons N-470 can be filed.  Read the instructions.  What  N-470 does is it allows you to stay outside USA for a year or more and not have a break that will restart your five years all over again.  Let me explain.  Let’s say I file I-131 and N-470.  I do it together.  Usually, in most cases, we do both forms together.  When you file I-131 and N-470 together, let’s say you stayed outside USA for 1 ½ years.  Normally, when you come back, you have to start that five-year period all over again, because you were outside USA for one year or, in case of I-131, you have to start the four year, one day period all over again.  But N-470 says, “We forgive your stay outside USA for one year or more for naturalization purposes.  We don’t forgive your requirement of 30 months of physical presence.”  But it stops the discontinuity that would normally restart the five-year clock or the four year, one day clock after having stayed outside USA for one year.  It is a clock-stopping device.  It is a very good device.  One problem though.  N-470 has one strange requirement.  You must have at least one year anywhere during your stay in USA as a Green Card holder where you did not travel outside USA for even for one day.  Makes no sense to me.  I don’t know why it is there, but it’s there.  Go figure, but keep that in mind.

I hope this has been informative.  I had told one of our posters.  Somebody had posted a comment on wanting to know more about this.  And I told him that I’ll record something, but I’ve had some technical issues.  They’re working on our website developing some new material that will make it easier for us to post our videos.  I hope to be doing this a lot more, and I’ll continue to do so.

Thank you for being here.  I hope to speak with you very soon.

Naturalized Citizen Sponsoring Parents

Question details

I am a brand new citizen and I am filing papers to bring my parents from England to NY to live with my husband and our four children. As I understand it once they get their interview and medical stuff out of the way, and get their visas do they enter as Legal Permanent residences?

They will enter the USA as permanent residents. The duration of the immigrant visa is stated on the visa stamp (I think it will be 6 months) and they must enter the USA within that time. They can come and leave after they get their green card in the USA.

Process After Getting Immigrant Visa

Question details

My mother is currently in the US. She entered based on the Immigration Visa on her passport and gave the sealed packet at the port of entry. We went to to the SSN office but were told that we need to wait for the SSN to come (via mail? - they had no clue). She wants to leave in the next few weeks. Questions:
1. Can she reenter without a physical GC in hand? She was told it takes 6-8 months to come at port of entry.
2. How do we get her SSN? Is it mailed automatically?
3. What else should I be aware of before she leaves the US?

Make an infopass appointment and get her passport stamped for temporary proof of green card. She can travel with that. Normally, the physical GC takes just a few weeks. I am not concerned about SSN. That will arrive eventually. But do review my blog videos about I-131 and maintaining green card, etc.

Expedited Advanced Parole

Question details

An applicant whose Form I-131 is filed and currently pending at a USCIS Service Center may go to a local office to apply for an expedited Advance Parole in case of an emergency. Have there been any changes to the process in which the applicant presents a copy of the receipts for the I-131 (and the underlying applications), documentation proving the emergency, filing fee, and two photos?

There has been no change to this policy.  USCIS requires documentary evidence of the emergent situation, as well as supporting documentation indicating that the applicant has a pending application.

Reentry application and biometrics

Question details

I just sent my I-131 application (for reentry permit) via overnight delivery, but turns out that I need to briefly go abroad starting this Friday for a work emergency. The official Notice of Action (I-797c) would probably arrive at my house while I am still overseas. My question is, will the application be denied if I leave the country before receiving the Notice of Action? (I'm afraid that USCIS would assume that I've abandoned the application by leaving the country.) I should be back in the USA for the biometric appointment.

As I recall, as long as the application has been physically received by USCIS, your departure does not cause abandonment. So, you should not have to worry. But you will need to be back for biometrics associated with the I-131.

Guestbook Entry for Hari & Anju Nayar, United States

Hari & Anju Nayar
United States

Hello, My interactions with the Law offices of Rajiv S Khanna started in Aug 2004 when I first applied for my H1 visa. Ever since, I have reached out to Mr. Khanna, Mr. Chacko and other support personnel (Ms. Mehta, Ms.Bhasin, Ms.Baker) for all my immigration related needs. This group of professionals is the best you can ever hope to find to help you navigate the complex and painfully slow immigration process. Rajiv and his team form a tremendous body of knowledge and the beauty of this group is that they provide their expertise as a 'service'. It is true that the law firm charges fees for processing ones case, but the amounts charged are far less than what one would have to pay elsewhere for service that is typically not on par. Mr. Khanna himself has called me on numerous occasions to clarify a question or seek more specific amazes me that the seniormost attorney in the firm takes time to do this and that too without charging a single dime for a personal call. My wife and I used Rajiv's offices to handle our Green Card application. The process was lengthy and stretched over 6 years from start to finish. I'm glad to report that the GC was granted. Without Rajiv's group supporting this would have been a nightmare. The team that handled my case did their work in the most professional manner possible. I got prompt replies to my emails, voice messages and on occasion even emails and calls over the weekend. I have probably inundated mailboxes with questions and counter arguments...never once have I been discouraged from asking questions nor have I not gotten a clear and definitive answer for my queries. Over the green card process, Rajiv's group renewed my Advance Paroloe and Employment applications (for my wife and I) three times. They have never sent me a bill for this, stating clearly that this falls within the overall green card application process. In my comments above, I emphasize on many occasion the financial matters related with this firm. It is also important to highlight the humane treatment you are accorded by everyone I worked with. The support staff and attorneys clearly understand the emotional stress involved in the immigration process and they treat you with respect and dignity. I have referred many friends of mine to Rajiv's office and they all state similar commendable experience. In short, I am glad I found this group of brilliant immigration attorneys and support personnel. I'm glad they were on my side and helped me win permanent residency. I can state without any hesitation that you will not be disappointed if you choose Rajiv's group to represent you. The level of service and support you will receive from the Law offices of Rajiv S Khanna will be far more than what you ever dream about. Many thanks to everyone at Rajiv's office for all the hard work. If there is anything I can every do in return please let me know....

Guestbook Entry for Rajarshi (Raj) & Satarupa, United States

Rajarshi (Raj) & Satarupa
United States
Kansas City

We just did recently receive our US Green Card (EB2) for both my wife and me. Keeping all those melodrama apart, in short, is extremely pleased and has no words to express ourselves. We want to thank everyone working with Law Offices of Rajiv ( and especially Mathew, Suman-Ji, Bharathi, Anna, Rita and last but not the least Rajiv himself. On a true note, they are extremely professional and super prompt in answering any of your stupidest questions on Immigration. Rajiv is extremely desperate in taking cases through to positive destiny using and interpreting every piece of immigration law that according to me, a lot of his competitors would try and avoid.

In last 6-years they have done our multiple successful H1B/H4 renewals, this Green Card case, and hopefully would be the one helping us on our US Citizenship process, about 5-years from now.

All of you guys out there, if you have any immigration issues, and want a little piece of mind, please do not wait. schedule an immediate appointment with them and be happy from thereon.

Just for information, our US born baby girl is about 2.5 months old now. Once she grows up a bit, would surely want to pay them a visit. We wish them all the very best as of now and in future.