For foreign-born college or university students with green cards who are attending school in a different state from where their parents live, a question arises when the time comes that they'd like to apply for U.S. citizenship: In filling out the Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, what should they put for their residence address?
Applying for naturalization while you're in college, and don't have a steady address, and perhaps spend summers in a different location, can be a bit tricky. It involves both legal and practical issues, as described in this article.
Legally speaking, you can use either your college address or your parents' address as your residence—that is, the first address that you list in Part 5, Question 1.A of the N-400. This comes from the Code of Federal Regulations, at 8 C.F.R. § 316.5(b)(2).
If you choose to use your college address, make sure you have lived there for three months or more already, since having lived in the same state for three months is a requirement before applying for naturalization. (See articles on Who Is Legally Eligible for Naturalized U.S. Citizenship for more information.)
If you would prefer to use your parents' address as your residence, make sure you can show that you are financially dependent on your parents at the time you submit the N-400 naturalization application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and that you continue to be so until you are approved (or denied) for U.S. citizenship.
One of the biggest issues if you're a college student applying to naturalize is making sure that you will receive notifications from USCIS for the next several months, so that you will hear about your biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment and your interview appointment. Either or both of these could be scheduled several months after you submit the application. Fortunately, Part 5 Question 1.B allows you to enter a mailing address that's separate from your residence address. That should be where you put your most stable address.
If, for example, you're living with a bunch of other students in a group house, summer break is coming, and you will all be moving to different places next year, don't count on the subsequent tenants (or even the U.S. Postal Service) to forward all-important pieces of USCIS mail to you.
Also realize that whichever address you put down as your place of residence will be the one USCIS assumes you need to be closest to in choosing the location for your biometrics appointment and interview. So, for example, if you use your parents' address and you are called for one of these appointments while in school, you might have to be ready to quickly book a cross-country flight.
One thing that might help with your planning is to look into the typical processing times (between filing the N-400 and being called for your interview) at the USCIS offices serving both your parents' address and the city where your college or university is located. To do so, go to the Check Case Processing Times page of USCIS's website.
By the way, we're assuming that you are already 18 years old, which is another requirement for naturalization.
If you have questions or would like assistance analyzing your eligibility, preparing the paperwork, and monitoring your citizenship application through the approval process, consult an experienced immigration attorney.
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