Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirement for Naturalization Explained

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When it comes to naturalization, countless processes and systems are in place to ensure legal outcomes. Keeping continuous residence in the country is imperative if you want to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. However, it’s understandable that some might want to utilize the benefits of citizenship and travel outside the country or visit family and friends abroad.

By spending too much time doing this, USCIS may question your intentions of fully becoming a citizen of the U.S. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, and broad requirements, making it easy to have the best of both worlds.

Immigration paperwork can be confusing at times and can require extensive proof and legal assistance. This article will help you to better understand continuous residency and physical presence requirements for the naturalization process.

Continuous Residence

This term means that you will have had to maintain residence within the United States for a specific period of time. In most cases, one must have been living in the country continuously for five years in order to be eligible for naturalized citizenship.

However, there are exceptions for U.S. Citizens. For example, if you have been married to a U.S. citizen for three years, you are able to gain citizenship. Or, if you are a battered spouse, you can gain citizenship if you haven’t met the qualifying criteria.

Unfortunately, if you are hoping for naturalization through continuous residence in the United States, there are a few travel restrictions that you need to keep in mind. For instance, a trip abroad that is less than six months won’t put your naturalization status at risk. However, if you are outside of the U.S. for more than six months, your continuous residence can be broken.

Due to this, many permanent residents limit their travels outside the country. USCIS will automatically discredit your application if they have seen that you have broken any requirements for residency.

So, how do you prove continuous residence? In order to show proof of continuous residence, you must have the necessary documents. These documents could include employment records, tax statements, school documents, medical records, or rent receipts.

Physical Presence

If you are wondering what physical presence means, we will further explain this term in immigration standards. Physical presence when determining residency is another requirement that must be met. As stated before, continuous residency must last a period of five years, and physical presence is required for at least one-half of the five required years.

To simplify, if you are applying for naturalization, you must have lived continuously in the U.S. for half of the required five-year time period. This totals to around 30 months or 913 days before filing your naturalization application.

How can you prove physical presence in the U.S.? In order to prove physical presence in the U.S., you will need to hold possession of a permanent residency card and must have evidence of being in the exact location for at least three months before filing Form N-400.

How to Determine Continuous Residence & Physical Presence

Even though these terms are related, they need to be differentiated regarding the naturalization application process. And it’s also essential to know the difference between continuous residence and physical presence requirements.

As with any other requirements, there are exceptions to meeting these two requirements. For instance, you could satisfy the continuous residency requirement but not have been physically present in the country for the mandated time. If this is the case, some steps can be followed.

In general, there are various ways to determine your residency numbers. The easiest way to find out how long you have been a resident of the U.S. is by looking at your permanent residency card’s information. On the bottom of this card, there is a date that tells you when you first became a resident.

Additionally, you can use a physical presence calculator for the U.S., which is similar to the time periods stated in the above sections. First, you should count the full amount of days you were within the U.S., add those numbers together, and determine whether or not you have been residing in the country for half of a five-year time period.

Exceptions to Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements

When it comes to the naturalization process, there are exceptions to the rule. The Immigration and Nationality Act has allowed for some to not need to meet the requirements for naturalization. For example, some jobs that hold exceptions for individuals are:

  • Government jobs or contractors to the U.S. government
  • Those serving in the military
  • Public international organizations
  • Any religious workers
  • Research institution employees

If you are working for any of these groups listed above, you will have exceptions to the naturalization process rules. Filing Form N-470 will need to be completed with USCIS before coming to a conclusion about your situation.

Start Your Naturalization Application Today!

Typically, applicants who follow the requirements will have an easier process when obtaining naturalization. There are, however, many instances where any breaks in the rules can still result in naturalization. Due to the varied circumstances, the requirements may be confusing, which is why specialized immigration advice from ImmigrationDirect can prove to be helpful.

If you have questions about this process or wish to go over your residence status, contact us today. We make immigration paperwork easy with our online software and lawyer review services. Don’t hesitate to reach out today to get started with your naturalization application process.

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