Two requirements that you need to satisfy to become a U.S. citizen are continuous residence and physical presence. Even though these requirements may sound very similar, they are very different concepts, and it often happens that a person meets one requirement but not the other. What do Continuous Residence and Physical Presence mean and how are they different?
- Continuous Residence
To become a U.S. citizen, you must have resided in the U.S. continuously for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are a spouse of a U.S. citizen residing in the United States) prior to filing the naturalization application. To satisfy this requirement, you must have maintained a permanent dwelling in the U.S. during the 5 or 3 year period. So what happens if you were outside the United States for longer period of time?
- If you were absent from the U.S. for 1 year or more, this absence will break the continuity of your residence. Remaining outside the U.S. for 1 year or more can also negatively impact your green card, so if you plan to remain outside the U.S. for 6 months or longer you should consider getting a reentry permit.
- If you were absent for more than 6 months (181 days) but less than 1 year, you may overcome the presumption that there is a break in your continuous residency by evidence that you did not disrupt your residence. For example, you may provide evidence that while you were outside the U.S. you did not terminate your employment in the U.S. or that you did not obtain employment abroad. Moreover, you may provide evidence that your immediate family remained in the United States or that you retained full access to your American residence.
Even if you had multiple absences that are less than 6 months, the officer may still conclude that your actual residency is not in the U.S. or that you did not reside in the U.S. for the necessary period. The officer will consider your continuous residence from the time you became a lawful permanent resident up until the present day.
If your company transfers you abroad for more than one year, there are specific types of employments abroad through which you can preserve your continuous residence. For more information about this topic, please click here.
Please keep in mind that you must also reside in the district that has jurisdiction over your naturalization application at least 3 months prior to the filing.
- Physical Presence
You must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months (913 days) of the 5 years preceding the date of filing the citizenship application. If you are spouse of a U.S. citizen, you must have been present in the United States 18 months of the 3 years preceding the date of filing the application. If you travel internationally, any full days (24-hour periods) spent outside the U.S. are not counted towards your physical presence, although the day you depart from the United States and the day you return to the United States are counted as days that you are physically present in the United States.
Please note, that there are certain exceptions to Continuous Residence and Physical Presence requirements that are not discussed in this article.
Please see all the requirements you have to meet to become U.S. citizen when you click here.
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