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When can I apply for U.S. citizenship?

February 2011
When can I apply for U.S. citizenship?

Individuals who satisfy the residence, physical presence and other requirements are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after they have been permanent residents (green card holders) for five years. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply for citizenship after three years of marriage as long as residence, physical presence and other requirements are met.

An applicant for U.S. citizenship must demonstrate good moral character, English literacy, and knowledge of U.S. history. In addition, there are U.S. residence and physical presence requirements that must be met. In brief, the applicant for naturalization must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the qualifying period (five or three years as described above) and must have maintained his or her primary place of abode in the country for the entire qualifying period. Extended absences from the U.S. may interrupt the qualifying period.

If I choose to change my current employer, will this affect my visa status in process?
The E, H, L, TN and O nonimmigrant visas are employer-specific. Therefore, if you leave your current employer and wish to remain in the U.S., you will need to immediately find another U.S. employer who will sponsor you. The permanent residence process requires that you intend to work with the petitioning employer on a permanent at-will basis.  However, a permanent resident application can become “portable” to another employer six months after filing the adjustment-of-status application if any new employment is substantially similar to the labor certification/visa petition employment.

How do I obtain a visa stamp in my passport?

An initial visa stamp for a given nonimmigrant classification must be applied for at a U.S. consulate in your home country. Some U.S. consulates may accept nonimmigrant visa applications by third-country nationals (individuals who are not citizens of the country in which the consulate is located) as a courtesy to visitors to those countries. U.S. consulates are not required to accept applications by third-country nationals, and visa issuance is at the sole discretion of the consular officers at the post. You should contact the appropriate American consulate or embassy in advance to determine its application process and the current application fee. You may also check the Department of State website at Most consulates have instructive web pages.

If I have a valid nonimmigrant visa in my passport, what do I need in order to reenter the U.S. after traveling internationally?

Your valid visa stamp in your passport should be sufficient, but you may wish to also carry a copy of the Notice of Action (Form I-797). The visa stamp shows that the U.S. State Department has determined that you may be admitted to the U.S. in a particular visa status, and the USCIS approval notice (Form I-797) is evidence of the maximum period for which you may be admitted.

All foreign nationals are issued a new I-94 card at each entry to the United States (with the exception of entries after visits to Canada or Mexico for periods of less than 30 days or for Canadian nationals entering the U.S.) The USCIS officer who admits you to the U.S. will stamp your I-94 card with entry and expiration dates. Please take a moment to check the dates on the I-94 card issued to you upon each readmission to the U.S. The expiration date on the I-94 card will govern your valid period of stay and employment authorization in the United States.

H-1B Cap Count (Updated January 7, 2011)
The USCIS updated its count of Fiscal Year 2011 cap-subject H-1B petitions and advanced degree cap-exempt petitions receipted. As of January 7, approximately 58,700 H-1B cap-subject petitions were receipted. The USCIS has receipted 20,000 H-1B petitions for aliens with advanced degrees.



FAMILY                    India                                    Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st                               01Jan05                                               01Jan05

2A                               01Jan08                                               01Jan08          

2B                               15Apr03                                              15Apr03

3rd                              01Jan01                                               01Jan01          

4th                               01Jan00                                               01Jan00


EMPLOYMENT      India                                    Pakistan/Bangladesh

1st                               Current                                                Current

2nd                              08May06                                             Current

3rd                              22Feb02                                              01Apr05

Other                          22Feb02                                              01May03

4th                               Current                                                Current

5th                               Current                                                  Current

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