INA 319(b) provides a faster naturalization option for Lawful Permanent Resident spouses who are married to U.S. citizens who work abroad. The physical and continuous residence requirements are waived, allowing applicants who meet the criteria to apply from abroad and without residing in the U.S. before filing the N-400. If INA 319(b) did not apply, the N-400 physical presence requirements require at least ½ of 5 years (or ½ of 3 years if N-400 applicant is the spouse of a U.S. citizen). The INA 319(b) benefit applies to lawful permanent residents in the following limited circumstances: their U.S. citizen spouse works abroad for the U.S. government, a public international organization if the U.S. participates by treaty or statute, an American research organization recognized by DHS, a religious organization doing missionary work, or an American firm developing foreign trade and U.S. commerce. The INA 319(b) remains a very helpful benefit for eligible lawful permanent residents who are otherwise eligible to naturalize but would do not meet either the physical presence or continuous physical presence requirements, or both.
Recent USCIS changes to processing of INA 319(b) cases are making it more challenging to obtain timely expedited naturalization 319(b) approvals . The recent developments are (1) USCIS is phasing out Infopass appointments at local offices and (2) there are currently exceptionally long processing times for N-400 cases. The phase out of Infopass appointments limits the ability to communicate with USCIS about the case which may keep applicants and their attorneys from confirming that USCIS received an interfiled 319(b). When seeking to expedite a 319(b) case, the N-400 with 319(b) should be filed concurrently rather than as an interfiling. If the 319(b) case is filed as an interfiling, USCIS will not send a Receipt Notice or have a different way to confirm receipt even if the 319(b) interfiling is later transferred to the local office. And, perhaps most importantly, the case will not be expedited. Instead, it be processed under the normal processing time at USCIS which can be very lengthy. It is also important to request an expedited oath to strive to lessen the time span between the N-400 interview and oath, particularly if the applicant is regularly stationed abroad or has a fixed deadline to begin work for a qualifying employer abroad.