- Who Qualifies for Naturalization Assistance from the Global Community Liaison Office?
- The Naturalization Process
- Attention Conditional Residents
- Understanding the Term “Expeditious”
- The Naturalization Exam
- Passport Information and Travel
- A Word of Caution
The following requirements must be fulfilled:
A foreign-born spouse must have entered the U.S. legally and have Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status in the U.S. (The LPR status may be conditional and if a “green card” has not been issued yet, an “A” number in the passport with the annotation “processed for I-551” is sufficient.) Additionally, one of the following very important requirements must be true:
- The spouse must be going with the employee on an overseas assignment. In this situation naturalization cannot take place more than 45 days prior to departure from the U.S. We encourage you to contact GCLO as soon as you have received the TMONE Post Assignment Notification.
- The spouse must currently be at an overseas post with the employee and, upon completion of naturalization on US soil, must depart the U.S. within 30 to 45 days to join the Foreign Service spouse at the overseas post. Please note: USCIS will not waive this requirement.
Please be aware that only USCIS can adjudicate naturalization applications. GCLO’s role is to guide and advise DOS Foreign Service personnel and their spouses on the expeditious naturalization process, verify eligibility, and facilitate 319(b) naturalization. To receive further information please call GCLO’s Reception Desk at 202-647-1076 or write to our naturalization specialist at GCLOAskNaturalization@state.gov.
To begin, applicants must complete the [105 KB]. Fill out the form, save it to your computer, and return it to GCLO with a copy of the post assignment notification (TMONE) and proof of Lawful Permanent Resident status (green card or DHS stamp above the immigrant visa foil). Based on the information you provide, GCLO will generate a cover letter on DOS letterhead and send it back to the applicant together with the USCIS mailing address and instructions for submitting the N400 application.
Caveat: please do not submit the N400 application without the cover letter provided to you by the GCLO office. The information in the cover letter enables USCIS to immediately recognize that the applicant is seeking naturalization under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act as the spouse of a Department of State employee.
The applicant should visit GCLO’s Expeditious Naturalization Application Materials and Information page for application forms, information, and instructions on preparing the application for submission to USCIS.
The current fee for processing an N400 application is $725. If you are applying from the U.S. you will receive a notice from USCIS directing you to a local Applicant Support Center (ACS) for a fingerprint appointment 2-4 weeks after you submit the N400 application form. If you are applying from overseas, please send fingerprint cards with your application. If applying online, you will submit fingerprint cards directly to USCIS’s National Benefits Center. GCLO will provide more guidance on fingerprints with the cover letter and application materials.
You may choose to complete the interview at any USCIS district office in the US; however, GCLO’s experience is that requesting a district office where they rarely, or maybe never, process a 319(b) case may cause delays. GCLO recommends that naturalization interviews be completed at the Washington District Office in Fairfax, VA. GCLO has strong contacts with this office and it is conveniently located so the new U.S. citizen can quickly apply for a diplomatic passport at the Special Issuance Passport Agency in Washington, DC.
USCIS will inform GCLO when the background investigation is complete and the case is ready for adjudication. If you are currently in the U.S. when your background investigation is finished, USCIS will schedule an interview date 30-45 days before the departure date indicated on your TMONE. If you are overseas, USCIS will provide GCLO a quarterly calendar of possible interview dates. GCLO will forward the calendar to the applicant, who will indicate several preferred dates. USCIS will then send the official interview notice for one of the selected dates to the Naturalization Specialist. Although many applicants who are already serving overseas request an interview date during a time they may be able to take advantage of R&R travel, USCIS cannot arrange to hold cases based on travel convenience, cost, or timing. If a case comes up for an interview, you must choose one of the dates provided. Any emergency situations when an applicant cannot travel, e.g. due to illness, requires a written letter and will be evaluated by USCIS on a case-by-case basis.
In Fairfax, if the applicant is successful in the interview and exam, the oath ceremony will take place on the Tuesday of that same week. After taking the oath, the applicant receives a Certificate of Citizenship to prove that he or she is now a U.S. citizen. Cameras are allowed and guests are encouraged to attend the oath ceremony.
The average processing time is currently five to seven months. Neither USCIS nor GCLO has control over how long the background investigation portion of the naturalization process may take. Although you may have requested a certain date for the interview, if the case is not ready for adjudication you will have to wait. If you are overseas, please do not make travel arrangements until you have received an official interview notice! There is no financial assistance from the U.S. Government or the Department of State for this process. Applying to become a U.S. citizen is considered a private matter.
Conditional residents (category “CR” on green card or Immigrant Visa ) must file with USCIS the form , (and pay all associated fees) during the 90 day period before the expiration date on the green card. Conditional residents whose naturalization interview will occur any time after this 90-day window opens are encouraged to file I-751 as soon as they become eligible. If the applicant is eligible to submit the I-751 (within 90 days of conditional residency expiring), USCIS will adjudicate the N-400 application only in conjunction with I-751. Therefore, applicants should file the I-751 as soon as possible to avoid delays in naturalization.
The properly filed I-751 is necessary to maintain LPR status after the green card expires. Conditional residents who don’t file the I-751 on time may lose their LPR status, even when scheduled to have the interview prior to the expiration date. Without the LPR status, an applicant is not eligible for naturalization.
Please note that the term “expeditious” may be misleading. It simply means that the normal three-year U.S. residency requirement is waived for spouses of certain government employees posted overseas. It does not mean that the process is expedited. Security investigations are required for all applicants. The background investigation can take some time–several months or more–and neither GCLO nor USCIS can expedite this step in the process.
In addition to waiving the residency requirement, the expeditious naturalization process also allows applicants to bypass the normal processing times for regular naturalization, such as the wait time (currently two months) between the naturalization interview and the ceremony. Applicants should take into consideration that they are receiving special treatment compared to the majority of applicants that go through the normal naturalization process.
The current USCIS questions and answers can be found online at . You can find more exam review materials from USCIS at During the interview, the applicant will be tested on their ability to read, write, and speak English. Finally, the applicant will be asked ten civics questions; six of the ten questions must be correct to achieve a passing score.
Diplomatic passports are only issued in Washington, DC by the Department of State’s Special Issuance Agency (SIA). For detailed information on diplomatic passports or visas please see Special Issuance Agency on Travel.State.Gov. or speak with our colleagues in the American Citizen Services section at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.
U.S. regulation, requires that U.S. citizens enter and leave the U.S. on a U.S. passport. Please keep this regulation in mind when completing your naturalization. If you are naturalizing at a location other than the USCIS Washington District Office (also known as the Fairfax Field Office) you will need to mail your passport to SIA. Detailed instructions and processing times can be found on SIA’s website. Remember: diplomatic passports can only be processed in Washington, DC at the Special Issuance Agency. GCLO recommends applying for regular U.S. passports at post.