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Vanderbilt American Institution of Research Designation & Naturalization

OIS does not provide assistance with US citizenship or naturalization filings.  However, Vanderbilt has received designation as an American Institution of Research and this designation is very helpful for employees who plan to seek US citizenship (naturalization) and need to meet the "continuous residence" requirement even though they have traveled abroad for an extended period of time.

Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements for Naturalization

Permanent residents seeking US citizenship through naturalization are required to show that they have:

  1. Resided continuously in the U.S. for five years before applying, or
  2. Resided continuously in the U.S. for three years in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens
"Continuous residence”means that the naturalization applicant has maintained residence within the United States for the required period of time shown above.

Extended absences outside of the U.S. may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence. Absences of more than six months but less than one year may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence unless the applicant can prove otherwise.  In general, absences in excess of one year or more may disrupt an applicant’s continuous residence, 

"Physical Presence" means that the naturalization applicants are required to show that they were:

  1. Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months within the five year period before applying, or
  2. Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months within the three year period before applying in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens
  3. In addition, applicants are required to show they have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of Form N-400 in the USCIS district or state where the applicant claims to have residency (See 8 CFR §316.3 & §319.1(a)(5)). 

Exceptions :

Section 316 paragraphs (b), (c), and (f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows for certain exceptions to the continuous residence requirement for those applicants working abroad for:

  1. The United States government, including the Military
  2. Contractors of the United States government
  3. A recognized American institution of research (Link to Vanderbilt's AIR Approval Letter)
  4. A public international organization or an organization designated under the International Immunities Act

If you seek to preserve your continuous residence for naturalization purposes while employed abroad by one of these recognized institutions you must file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes with USCIS. Vanderbilt has received USCIS recognition as an American institution of research for the purpose of preserving the continuous residence status of its employees.  Therefore, employees who are, or will be, naturalization applicants assigned abroad for an extended period of time may meet the continuous presence requirement as their time abroad is no longer counted again them.  Vanderbilt AIR designation approval can be found on VISIT's Forms page under "Immigration Forms" or by clicking here

The information contained on this page is general in nature and not meant to provide advice on the US citizenship or naturalization process.  The focus is Vanderbilt's AIR designation and how it may be of assistance to employees seeking US citizenship.  Employees seeking US citizenship (naturalization) are strongly advised to review the information at the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) for detailed information. 

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