An applicant for naturalization under the general provision must have resided continuously in the United States after his or her LPR admission for at least five years prior to filing the naturalization application and up to the time of naturalization. An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the State or Service District having jurisdiction over the application for three months prior to filing.

The concept of continuous residence involves the applicant maintaining a permanent dwelling place in the United States over the period of time required by the statute. The residence in question “is the same as that alien’s domicile, or principal actual dwelling place, without regard to the alien’s intent, and the duration of an alien’s residence in a particular location measured from the moment the alien first establishes residence in that location.” Accordingly, the applicant’s residence is generally the applicant’s actual physical location regardless of his or her intentions to claim it as his or her residence.

Certain classes of applicants may be eligible for a reduced period of continuous residence, for constructive continuous residence while outside the United States, or for an exemption from the continuous residence requirement altogether. These classes of applicants include certain military members and certain spouses of U.S. citizens.

The requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” are interrelated but are different requirements. Each requirement must be satisfied (unless otherwise specified) in order for the applicant to be eligible for naturalization.

USCIS will consider the entire period from the LPR admission until the present when determining an applicant’s compliance with the continuous residence requirement.

An order of removal terminates the applicant’s status as an LPR and therefore disrupts the continuity of residence for purposes of naturalization. However, an applicant who has been readmitted as an LPR after a deferred inspection or by an immigration judge in removal proceedings can satisfy the residence and physical presence requirements in the same manner as any other applicant for naturalization.

Other examples that may raise a rebuttal presumption that an applicant has abandoned his or her LPR status include cases where there is evidence that the applicant voluntarily claimed nonresident alien status to qualify for special exemptions from income tax liability or fails to file either federal or state income tax returns because he or she considers himself or herself to be a non-resident alien.

An applicant for naturalization has the burden of establishing that he or she has complied with the continuous residence requirement, if applicable. There are two types of absences from the United States that are automatically presumed to break the continuity of residence for purposes of naturalization: absences of more than 6 months but less than one year; and absences of one year or more. In addition, absences of less than 6 months may also break the continuity of residence depending on the facts surrounding the absence.

An absence of more than six months (more than 181 days but less than one year (less than 365 days)) during the period for which continuous residence is required is presumed to break the continuity of such residence. This includes any absence that takes place prior to filing the naturalization application or between filing and the applicant’s admission to citizenship.

An applicant’s intent is not relevant in determining the location of his or her residence. The period of absence from the United States is the defining factor in determining whether the applicant is presumed to have disrupted his or her residence.

An applicant may overcome the presumption of loss of his or her continuity of residence by providing evidence to establish that the applicant did not disrupt his or her residence. The evidence may include, but is not limited to, documentation that during the absence: the applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the United States or obtain employment while abroad; the applicant’s immediate family remained in the United States; the applicant retained full access to his or her United States abode.

An absence from the United States for a continuous period of one year or more (365 days or more) during the period for which continuous residence is required will break the continuity of residence. This applies whether the absence takes place prior to or after filing the naturalization application.

The naturalization application of a person who is subject to the continuous residence requirement must be denied for failure to meet the continuous residence requirements if the person has been continuously absent for a period of one year or more without qualifying for the exception benefits of INA 316(b). An applicant who is absent for one year or more to engage in qualifying employment abroad may be permitted to preserve his or her residence.

An applicant who is required to establish continuous residence for at least five years and whose application for naturalization is denied for an absence of one year or longer, may apply for naturalization four years and one day after returning to the United States to resume permanent residence. An applicant who is subject to the three-year continuous residence requirement may apply two years and one day after returning to the United States to resume permanent residence.

Mere possession of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) for the period of time required for continuous residence does not in itself establish the applicant’s continuous residence for naturalization purposes. The applicant must demonstrate actual maintenance of his or her principal dwelling place, without regard to intent, in the United States through testimony and documentation.

For example, a “commuter alien” may have held and used a PRC for seven years, but would not be eligible for naturalization until he or she had actually taken up permanent residence in the United States and maintained such residence for the required statutory period.

USCIS will review all of the relevant records to determine whether the applicant has met the required period of continuous residence. The applicant’s testimony will also be considered to determine whether the applicant met the required period of continuous residence.

Certain applicants may seek to preserve their residence for an absence of one year or more to engage in qualifying employment abroad. Such applicants must file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes (Form N-470) in accordance with the form instructions.

In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The applicant must have been physically present in the United States as an LPR for an uninterrupted period of at least one year prior to working abroad.
  2. The application may be filed either before or after the applicant’s employment begins, but before the applicant has been abroad for a continuous period of one year.

In addition, the applicant must have been:

  1. Employed with or under contract with the U.S. Government or an American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General;
  2. Employed by an American firm or corporation engaged in the development of U.S. foreign trade and commerce, or a subsidiary thereof if more than 50 percent of its stock is owned by an American firm or corporation; or
  3. Employed by a public international organization of which the United States is a member by a treaty or statute and by which the applicant was not employed until after becoming an LPR.

The applicant’s spouse and dependent unmarried sons and daughters are also entitled to such benefits during the period when they were residing abroad as dependent members of the principal applicant’s household. The application’s approval notice will include the applicant and any dependent family members who were also granted the benefit.

The approval of an application to preserve residence does not relieve an applicant (or any family members) from any applicable required period of physical presence, unless the applicant was employed by, or under contract with, the U.S. Government.

In addition, the approval of an application to preserve residence does not guarantee that the applicant (or any family members) will not be found, upon returning to the United States, to have lost LPR status through abandonment. USCIS may find that an applicant who claimed special tax exemptions as a nonresident alien to have lost LPR status through abandonment. The applicant may overcome that presumption with acceptable evidence establishing that he or she did not abandon his or her LPR status.

Approval of an application to preserve residence also does not relieve the LPR of the need to have an appropriate travel document when the LPR seeks to return to the United States. A PRC card, generally, is acceptable as a travel document only if the person has been absent for less than one year. If an LPR expects to be absent for more than one year, the LPR should also apply for a reentry permit. The LPR must actually be in the United States when he or she applies for a reentry permit.

An applicant for naturalization is generally required to have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time for which his or her continuous residence is required. Applicants for naturalization under INA 316(a) are required to demonstrate physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months (at least 913 days) before filing the application.

Physical presence refers to the number of days the applicant must physically be present in the United States during the statutory period up to the date of filing for naturalization. The continuous residence and physical presence requirements are interrelated but each must be satisfied for naturalization.

USCIS will count the day that an applicant departs from the United States and the day he or she returns as days of physical presence within the United States for naturalization purposes.

Mere possession of a PRC for the period of time required for physical presence does not in itself establish the applicant’s physical presence for naturalization purposes. The applicant must demonstrate actual physical presence in the United States through documentation. USCIS will review all of the relevant records to assist with the determination of whether the applicant has met the required period of physical presence. The applicant’s testimony will also be considered in determining whether the applicant met the required period of physical presence.

Federal law requires every employer and agricultural recruiter/referrer-for-a-fee hiring an individual for employment in the United States to verify his or her identity and employment authorization through completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. On the form, the employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual and record the document information on the Form I-9. The list of acceptable documents is provided under Form I-9. Employers must retain Form I-9 for a designated period and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, or Department of Justice.

Employers must have a completed Form I-9 on file for each person on their payroll who is required to complete the form. Form I-9 must be retained and stored by the employer either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. It compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to the data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.

An applicant for naturalization under the general provision must have resided continuously in the United States after his or her LPR admission for at least five years prior to filing the naturalization application and up to the time of naturalization. An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the State or Service District having jurisdiction over the application for three months prior to filing.

The concept of continuous residence involves the applicant maintaining a permanent dwelling place in the United States over the period of time required by the statute. The residence in question “is the same as that alien’s domicile, or principal actual dwelling place, without regard to the alien’s intent, and the duration of an alien’s residence in a particular location measured from the moment the alien first establishes residence in that location.” Accordingly, the applicant’s residence is generally the applicant’s actual physical location regardless of his or her intentions to claim it as his or her residence.

Certain classes of applicants may be eligible for a reduced period of continuous residence, for constructive continuous residence while outside the United States, or for an exemption from the continuous residence requirement altogether. These classes of applicants include certain military members and certain spouses of U.S. citizens.

The requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” are interrelated but are different requirements. Each requirement must be satisfied (unless otherwise specified) in order for the applicant to be eligible for naturalization.

USCIS will consider the entire period from the LPR admission until the present when determining an applicant’s compliance with the continuous residence requirement.

An order of removal terminates the applicant’s status as an LPR and therefore disrupts the continuity of residence for purposes of naturalization. However, an applicant who has been readmitted as an LPR after a deferred inspection or by an immigration judge in removal proceedings can satisfy the residence and physical presence requirements in the same manner as any other applicant for naturalization.

Other examples that may raise a rebuttal presumption that an applicant has abandoned his or her LPR status include cases where there is evidence that the applicant voluntarily claimed nonresident alien status to qualify for special exemptions from income tax liability or fails to file either federal or state income tax returns because he or she considers himself or herself to be a non-resident alien.

An applicant for naturalization has the burden of establishing that he or she has complied with the continuous residence requirement, if applicable. There are two types of absences from the United States that are automatically presumed to break the continuity of residence for purposes of naturalization: absences of more than 6 months but less than one year; and absences of one year or more.  In addition, absences of less than 6 months may also break the continuity of residence depending on the facts surrounding the absence.

An absence of more than six months (more than 181 days but less than one year (less than 365 days)) during the period for which continuous residence is required is presumed to break the continuity of such residence. This includes any absence that takes place prior to filing the naturalization application or between filing and the applicant’s admission to citizenship.

An applicant’s intent is not relevant in determining the location of his or her residence. The period of absence from the United States is the defining factor in determining whether the applicant is presumed to have disrupted his or her residence.

An applicant may overcome the presumption of loss of his or her continuity of residence by providing evidence to establish that the applicant did not disrupt his or her residence. The evidence may include, but is not limited to, documentation that during the absence: the applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the United States or obtain employment while abroad; the applicant’s immediate family remained in the United States; the applicant retained full access to his or her United States abode.

An absence from the United States for a continuous period of one year or more (365 days or more) during the period for which continuous residence is required will break the continuity of residence. This applies whether the absence takes place prior to or after filing the naturalization application.

The naturalization application of a person who is subject to the continuous residence requirement must be denied for failure to meet the continuous residence requirements if the person has been continuously absent for a period of one year or more without qualifying for the exception benefits of INA 316(b). An applicant who is absent for one year or more to engage in qualifying employment abroad may be permitted to preserve his or her residence.

An applicant who is required to establish continuous residence for at least five years and whose application for naturalization is denied for an absence of one year or longer, may apply for naturalization four years and one day after returning to the United States to resume permanent residence. An applicant who is subject to the three-year continuous residence requirement may apply two years and one day after returning to the United States to resume permanent residence.

Mere possession of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) for the period of time required for continuous residence does not in itself establish the applicant’s continuous residence for naturalization purposes. The applicant must demonstrate actual maintenance of his or her principal dwelling place, without regard to intent, in the United States through testimony and documentation.

For example, a “commuter alien” may have held and used a PRC for seven years, but would not be eligible for naturalization until he or she had actually taken up permanent residence in the United States and maintained such residence for the required statutory period.

USCIS will review all of the relevant records to determine whether the applicant has met the required period of continuous residence. The applicant’s testimony will also be considered to determine whether the applicant met the required period of continuous residence.

Certain applicants may seek to preserve their residence for an absence of one year or more to engage in qualifying employment abroad. Such applicants must file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes (Form N-470) in accordance with the form instructions. In order to qualify, the following criteria must be met:
  1. The applicant must have been physically present in the United States as an LPR for an uninterrupted period of at least one year prior to working abroad.
  2. The application may be filed either before or after the applicant’s employment begins, but before the applicant has been abroad for a continuous period of one year.
In addition, the applicant must have been:
  1. Employed with or under contract with the U.S. Government or an American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General;
  2. Employed by an American firm or corporation engaged in the development of U.S. foreign trade and commerce, or a subsidiary thereof if more than 50 percent of its stock is owned by an American firm or corporation; or
  3. Employed by a public international organization of which the United States is a member by a treaty or statute and by which the applicant was not employed until after becoming an LPR.
The applicant’s spouse and dependent unmarried sons and daughters are also entitled to such benefits during the period when they were residing abroad as dependent members of the principal applicant’s household. The application’s approval notice will include the applicant and any dependent family members who were also granted the benefit. The approval of an application to preserve residence does not relieve an applicant (or any family members) from any applicable required period of physical presence, unless the applicant was employed by, or under contract with, the U.S. Government. In addition, the approval of an application to preserve residence does not guarantee that the applicant (or any family members) will not be found, upon returning to the United States, to have lost LPR status through abandonment. USCIS may find that an applicant who claimed special tax exemptions as a nonresident alien to have lost LPR status through abandonment. The applicant may overcome that presumption with acceptable evidence establishing that he or she did not abandon his or her LPR status. Approval of an application to preserve residence also does not relieve the LPR of the need to have an appropriate travel document when the LPR seeks to return to the United States. A PRC card, generally, is acceptable as a travel document only if the person has been absent for less than one year. If an LPR expects to be absent for more than one year, the LPR should also apply for a reentry permit. The LPR must actually be in the United States when he or she applies for a reentry permit.

An applicant for naturalization is generally required to have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time for which his or her continuous residence is required. Applicants for naturalization under INA 316(a) are required to demonstrate physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months (at least 913 days) before filing the application.

Physical presence refers to the number of days the applicant must physically be present in the United States during the statutory period up to the date of filing for naturalization. The continuous residence and physical presence requirements are interrelated but each must be satisfied for naturalization.

USCIS will count the day that an applicant departs from the United States and the day he or she returns as days of physical presence within the United States for naturalization purposes.

Mere possession of a PRC for the period of time required for physical presence does not in itself establish the applicant’s physical presence for naturalization purposes. The applicant must demonstrate actual physical presence in the United States through documentation. USCIS will review all of the relevant records to assist with the determination of whether the applicant has met the required period of physical presence. The applicant’s testimony will also be considered in determining whether the applicant met the required period of physical presence.

There are some limitations to the travel outside the United States and return by a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). The permanent resident card becomes technically invalid for reentry if the LPR is absent from United States for 1 year or more. Permanent residence may be considered abandoned for absences shorter than one year if the LPR takes up residence in any other country. LPR does not need a reentry permit if his or her stay outside United States is for less than a year. LPR may use the Permanent Resident/Green Card (Form I-551) as the travel document.

The reentry permit establishes that the LPR did not intend to abandon his or her status and allows applying for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to two years without having to obtain a returning resident permit (SB1 visa).

Reentry permits are normally issued with a validity of two years from its issuance date. The LPR cannot file Form I-131 to obtain the reentry permit unless physically present in the United States while filing. However, for its approval the LPR need not be in the United States. Biometrics is required for the issuance of reentry permit.

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