I am applying for citizenship. What happens if I leave the U.S.?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2020 | Citizenship

Naturalization for United States citizenship can be a long process, especially considering it requires five years of permanent residency prior to applying. Perhaps you want to leave to visit family back home. Or, maybe you would like to go on a vacation. It is understandable that you might be concerned about leaving the U.S. and what it means for your application.

For those wondering if leaving the country will compromise your application process, know that in most cases your application status will remain unaffected. However, there are details that make a difference—including time spent away and frequency.

As a permanent resident looking to become a citizen, what is important to your application is maintaining continuous residency. You maintain this continuity by physically remaining in the U.S.

Conditions for maintaining continuous residence

You may leave the U.S. for up to six months without breaking your continuity and therefore losing your eligibility to naturalize. But application reviewers may consider multiple absences (for a few months at a time) from the U.S. as an abandonment of your residency.

Additionally, leaving for between six months and one year will result in the need to overcome presumption of your break in continuity. And, if you leave for more than one year without the proper approvals or processes, you will lose your eligibility for citizenship.

Note that the total amount of time you must be in the United States across your five-year required period is at least 30 months.

How to prove continuous residence

You may need documents that prove your presence in the U.S. The following can help you:

    • Property leases
    • Utility bills
    • Financial statements
    • Medical records
    • School records
    • Pay stubs

There are other ways to help your continuity, and there are exceptions and approvals you may receive for extended absences. For example, you may have worked under the U.S. government abroad for an extended period. In that case, you will need to fill out Form N 470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

Consider speaking with an immigration attorney to learn more about the conditions of your permanent residency and how it relates to your naturalization process.



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