For most people, an application for naturalization must be filed with the USCIS office or service district that has jurisdiction over their place of residence. Normally this is a simple issue, I live in Cincinnati so I need to file where USCIS says to file for Ohio (today USCIS tells us to file at their location in Chicago, IL). To file with the office that has jurisdiction over where you live, you must have lived there for at least three months before filing. This is not very complicated for most people, but because of work or school, things are a little more complicated for some people.
Before we can discuss the exceptions, we need to understand what USCIS defines “Place of Residence” as.
The applicant’s “residence” refers to the applicant’s principal, actual dwelling place in fact, without regard to intent. The duration of an applicant’s residence in a particular location is measured from the moment the applicant first establishes residence in that location.
The following are exceptions to the normal “Place of Residence” definition:
1. Military Member
Special provisions exist for applicants who are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces but who do not qualify for naturalization on the basis of the military service for one year.
- The service member’s place of residence may be the state or service district where he or she is physically present for at least three months immediately prior to filing (or the examination if filed early);
- The service member’s place of residence may be the location of the residence of his or her spouse or minor child, or both; or
- The service member’s place of residence may be his or her home of record as declared to the U.S. armed forces at the time of enlistment and as currently reflected in the service member’s military personnel file.
2. Spouse of Military Member (Residing Abroad)
The spouse of a U.S. armed forces member may be eligible to count the time he or she is residing (or has resided) abroad with the service member as continuous residence and physical presence in any state or district of the United States. Such a spouse may consider his or her place of residence abroad as a place of residence in any state or district in the United States.
An applicant who is attending an educational institution in a state or service district other than the applicant’s home residence may apply for naturalization where that institution is located, or in the state of the applicant’s home residence if the applicant is financially dependent upon his or her parents at the time of filing and during the naturalization process.
A commuter must have taken up permanent residence (principal dwelling place) in the United States for the required statutory period and must meet the residency requirements to be eligible for naturalization.
5. Residence in Multiple States
If an applicant claims residence in more than one state, the residence for purposes of naturalization will be determined by the location from which the applicant’s annual federal income tax returns have been and are being filed.
6. Residence During Absences of Less than One Year
An applicant’s residence during any absence abroad of less than one year will continue to be the state or service district where the applicant resided before departure. If the applicant returns to the same residence, he or she will have complied with the three-month jurisdictional residence requirement when at least three months have elapsed, including any part of the absence, from when the applicant first established that residence.
If the applicant establishes residence in a different state or service district from where he or she last resided, the applicant must reside three months at that new residence before applying in order to meet the three-month jurisdictional residence requirement.
7. Noncitizen Nationals of the United States
A noncitizen national may naturalize if he or she becomes a resident of any state and is otherwise qualified.  Noncitizen nationals will satisfy the continuous residence and physical presence requirements while residing in an outlying possession. Such applicants must reside for three months prior to filing in a state or service district to be eligible for naturalization.
I hope this information was helpful, if you have any additional questions about naturalization you are welcome to contact my office for an appointment to discuss your questions, or if you would rather you can download our free e-book on Naturalizations.