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SwiftSweeper

Confused - USCIS 3 Months Residency Requirement for N-400

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Hi Guys and Gals, :)

I am confused regarding USCIS 3 month residency rule for N-400 application.

"A Guide to Naturalization" (page 23) states "Most people must live in the USCIS district or state in which they are applying for at least 3 months before applying. A district is a geographical area defined by USCIS and served by one of the USCIS District Offices."

I will be moving from Houston TX to Arlington TX in the middle of August. I am confused if I should wait 3 months before filing N-400 or file N-400 right away after I move to Arlington.

USCIS Houston District Office handles Houston TX, and USCIS Dallas District Office handles Arlington TX, so I will be living in a different USCIS district after I move.

However, I will still be in the same state of Texas after I move.

"A Guide to Naturalization" states "USCIS district OR State", my takeaway is that I do not need to wait 3 months.

What do you think?

Should I move to Arlington and apply right away or move to Arlington, wait 3 months, and then apply?

Has anyone been in the same situation who did not wait 3 months, and received citizenship?

Any advice, thoughts, or comments are welcome. :)

Edited by SwiftSweeper

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Hi Guys and Gals, :)

I am confused regarding USCIS 3 month residency rule for N-400 application.

"A Guide to Naturalization" (page 23) states "Most people must live in the USCIS district or state in which they are applying for at least 3 months before applying. A district is a geographical area defined by USCIS and served by one of the USCIS District Offices."

I will be moving from Houston TX to Arlington TX in the middle of August. I am confused if I should wait 3 months before filing N-400 or file N-400 right away after I move to Arlington.

USCIS Houston District Office handles Houston TX, and USCIS Dallas District Office handles Arlington TX, so I will be living in a different USCIS district after I move.

However, I will still be in the same state of Texas after I move.

"A Guide to Naturalization" states "USCIS district OR State", my takeaway is that I do not need to wait 3 months.

What do you think?

Should I move to Arlington and apply right away or move to Arlington, wait 3 months, and then apply?

Has anyone been in the same situation who did not wait 3 months, and received citizenship?

Any advice, thoughts, or comments are welcome. :)

The policy manual says:

"An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the State or Service District having jurisdiction over the application for three months prior to filing."

http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume12-PartD-Chapter3.html#footnote-2

To me, the term "service district" means the area covered by the USCIS office. I don't know if this is sometimes (or ever) enforced. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that you'd probably be ok if you filed right away, but if I were in your position, I would wait 3 months. If you get a strict interviewer, the guidelines appear to be on his side in this case.

Of course, if you are eligible before you move, you can file in Houston and then move. That'll save you a 3 month wait but then you'll have to deal with requesting a transfer of your case. Of you're not in a hurry, the safest thing to do is move and then wait 3 months.


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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The policy manual says:

"An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the State or Service District having jurisdiction over the application for three months prior to filing."

http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume12-PartD-Chapter3.html#footnote-2

To me, the term "service district" means the area covered by the USCIS office. I don't know if this is sometimes (or ever) enforced. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that you'd probably be ok if you filed right away, but if I were in your position, I would wait 3 months. If you get a strict interviewer, the guidelines appear to be on his side in this case.

Of course, if you are eligible before you move, you can file in Houston and then move. That'll save you a 3 month wait but then you'll have to deal with requesting a transfer of your case. Of you're not in a hurry, the safest thing to do is move and then wait 3 months.

Thank you for chiming in. :)

Yeah, you are right that I will not be meeting "service district" requirement. I read a few stories of people who moved states, did not wait 3 months, and got their application denied and application fee forfeit. Many of them even passed the interview...

I meet the State 3 months residence requirement though. Because the manual says "the State or Service District", I assume that as long as I meet either the State or Service District residence requirement, I should be okay. If the manual instead said "the State and Service District", I would definitely have to wait 3 months after I move.

Hence, I am still confused... :(

I might just file N-400 now to be honest. I already have my application done, signed, and ready to go. I just keep reading that moving after filing N-400 can cause significant delays or even worse, cause N-400 application to be lost.

Edited by SwiftSweeper

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You're right, the word "or" is throwing me off, too.

So Alabama and Georgia are in the same service district. If I move from Huntsville, AL to Atlanta, GA, does that mean I don't have to wait 3 months to apply? It's just not clear to me.

Applications do get delayed sometimes, but there was a very successful application transfer case mentioned on here recently. I think it depends on when you're moving. If you're moving in October, you may want to apply now and then transfer your case. If you're moving in August, then you may want to wait. I really don't know if you have to wait for 3 months if you move to Dallas... the language just isn't clear. I think you'd be ok, but any time the rules aren't clear, it's open to interpretation by the interviewer. Personally, I don't like to complicate an already unnecessarily complicated process, so unless there was an urgent need (if you're waiting for a government job or trying to sponsor a sick relative), I would wait. If you do have to apply as soon as possible then I would choose to apply in Houston and transfer the case. That may cause a delay, but there's no risk of denial (not based on application date anyway).


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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You're right, the word "or" is throwing me off, too.

So Alabama and Georgia are in the same service district. If I move from Huntsville, AL to Atlanta, GA, does that mean I don't have to wait 3 months to apply? It's just not clear to me.

Applications do get delayed sometimes, but there was a very successful application transfer case mentioned on here recently. I think it depends on when you're moving. If you're moving in October, you may want to apply now and then transfer your case. If you're moving in August, then you may want to wait. I really don't know if you have to wait for 3 months if you move to Dallas... the language just isn't clear. I think you'd be ok, but any time the rules aren't clear, it's open to interpretation by the interviewer. Personally, I don't like to complicate an already unnecessarily complicated process, so unless there was an urgent need (if you're waiting for a government job or trying to sponsor a sick relative), I would wait. If you do have to apply as soon as possible then I would choose to apply in Houston and transfer the case. That may cause a delay, but there's no risk of denial (not based on application date anyway).

I think even lawyers are confused about this lol.

See the discussion here

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/residence-and-uscis-jurisdiction-in-n-400-applicat-1305918.html

I am just going to play it safe and wait 3 months if I decide to not file before I move. Like you said, it might be okay to apply without waiting 3 months, but I know that I will end up worrying too much about possible denial due to an immigration officer interpreting the law differently.

I do not have an urgent need for citizenship. I just want the whole thing to be over with or at least, the initial step. Moreover, I already filled out my N-400 form, gathered all supporting documents, wrote the check, took photos etc. I am sitting on a completed N-400 application. I just have to go to post office and mail it.

In addition, if I choose to move first, which will be in mid August, and then, wait 3 months, I will not file until the middle of November. The current N-400 form expires on 09/30/2015, so I will have to use the new form that USCIS releases. The new N-400 form might have different questions, required supporting documents, procedures, fees, etc, so I am tempted to just file next Monday to avoid all of that. I also do not mind waiting a few extra months due to my N-400 transfer between different USCIS District Offices. My only fear is that USCIS will loose my N-400 application completely during the transfer process.

Edited by SwiftSweeper

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I think even lawyers are confused about this lol.

See the discussion here

http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/residence-and-uscis-jurisdiction-in-n-400-applicat-1305918.html

I am just going to play it safe and wait 3 months if I decide to not file before I move. Like you said, it might be okay to apply without waiting 3 months, but I know that I will end up worrying too much about possible denial due to an immigration officer interpreting the law differently.

I do not have an urgent need for citizenship. I just want the whole thing to be over with or at least, the initial step. Moreover, I already filled out my N-400 form, gathered all supporting documents, wrote the check, took photos etc. I am sitting on a completed N-400 application. I just have to go to post office and mail it.

In addition, if I choose to move first, which will be in mid August, and then, wait 3 months, I will not file until the middle of November. The current N-400 form expires on 09/30/2015, so I will have to use the new form that USCIS releases. The new N-400 form might have different questions, required supporting documents, procedures, fees, etc, so I am tempted to just file next Monday to avoid all of that. I also do not mind waiting a few extra months due to my N-400 transfer between different USCIS District Offices. My only fear is that USCIS will loose my N-400 application completely during the transfer process.

Don't worry about a new form; there won't be one in November. The current form has been in use for a little over a year, but the previous form expired several years before that. USCIS issues validity extensions for expired forms. The expiration date on the form won't change, but you'll be allowed to use it. It'll take a few years before they'll want to change the current form, followed by months of development of a new form and months of public comment and review periods. When it's time to apply, go to the main N400 page on the USCIS website and make sure you are using the most up to date version. If it is expired, you will find a validity extension statement in that page.


For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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Don't worry about a new form; there won't be one in November. The current form has been in use for a little over a year, but the previous form expired several years before that. USCIS issues validity extensions for expired forms. The expiration date on the form won't change, but you'll be allowed to use it. It'll take a few years before they'll want to change the current form, followed by months of development of a new form and months of public comment and review periods. When it's time to apply, go to the main N400 page on the USCIS website and make sure you are using the most up to date version. If it is expired, you will find a validity extension statement in that page.

Sorry, I was on the road a past few days, so I did not have time to reply. Thank you for the info. I am very glad that I should be able to use the current form in a few months since is is already filled out. :)

I also posted 2 questions on Avvo regarding my situation. The links to the questions and lawyers answers are below
1. Should I file N-400 application now if I will be moving from Houston TX to Arlington TX in mid August?
2. Does USCIS 3 months residency requirement apply for N-400 if one stays within the same state but changes USCIS District offices?
Two lawyers indicated that I do not have to wait 3 months to file N-400 because I will still be within the same state, and as the result, I should meet N-400 3 months residency requirement. One of these lawyers is even from Texas, so I am hoping that he had similar cases in the past. Therefore, I decided that I will just wait a few weeks, move to Arlington TX in mid August, file AR-11 online, wait for USCIS to process my change of address and send confirmation notice, and then file N-400.
Do you guys agree or disagree with this approach?
Any thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or personal experiences would be great.

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