Permanent residents (green card holders) who are applying for U.S. citizenship through naturalization are required to maintain 5 years of “continuous residence” in the United States to be eligible for citizenship. Permanent residents who have traveled outside the United States often have questions about how their international travel affects their eligibility for naturalization. The citizenship “continuous residence” rule is found in Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
- To be eligible for naturalization, a person must have been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen).
- During the 5-year period (or 3-year period), the person must have been continuously residing in the U.S., except for absences of no more than 6 months each.
- An absence of 6 months to 1 year raises a rebuttable presumption that continuity of residence has been interrupted.
- An absence of one year or more will disrupt continuity of residence, even if the person had a reentry permit.
- The person must also have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the 5-year period (or one-half of the 3-year period).
- In addition, the person must have resided for at least 3 months in the state where the application is filed.
There are some exceptions to these requirements, such as for battered spouses and children. An experienced immigration attorney can review your status to determine if you meet the naturalization continuous resident requirements even though you left the United States during the previous 5 (or 3) years.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
- The burden of establishing residency, including issues of abandonment, in some courts, rests with the applicant.
- If there is a break in residency due to absence, a person may reapply after 4 years and one day, but only if he or she can overcome the rebuttable presumption that she did not abandon her residency.
Consult An Experienced Immigration Attorney If You Have Questions About Continuous Residence and Qualifying for Citizenship
An immigration attorney can help you understand the continuous residence requirement and can help you determine if you meet all of the requirements for naturalization. An immigration attorney can also help you gather the necessary documentation to support your application for naturalization.
If you are considering applying for naturalization, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney as early as possible. An immigration attorney can help you ensure that you meet all of the requirements for naturalization and that your application is processed smoothly.
Benefits Of U.S. Citizenship
Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen can bring many rights and privileges, such as voting in elections and becoming eligible for certain government jobs. There are also financial benefits associated with becoming a United States citizen. Understanding all the rights and responsibilities associated with becoming a United States citizen is important before applying for naturalization.
Do You Want to Become a U.S. Citizen? Talk To A Citizenship Lawyer
The immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office work with you to evaluate your immigration status and guide you in your journey to becoming a U.S. citizen. If you need help with an immigration issue, pleasecontact our office at 630-912-0322.
We help immigrants in all 50 states.