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How is U.S. physical presence calculated for citizenship eligibility?

My mom has been an EB-5 permanent resident for almost nine years now. She has not been able to fully reside here due to my father's health condition back home, but she never left the United States for more than six months. She accumulated a physical presence of almost two years in the United States. We know that you need a minimum of 30 months of physical presence in the United States out of five years. She will need to renew her green card by January 2018. When she renews it, does she lose all the days (two years) she accumulated here in order to be eligible to apply for the citizenship, or will they be taken into consideration with regards to her newly issued green card date?

Answers

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    At the time of filing, you need to show, for the 5 years before filing, you were present in the U.S. for at least 50% of the time (so, about 30 months, as you said), and trips outside of the U.S. of 6 months or more will be questioned.

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    A Olusanjo Omoniyi

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The general rule for a permanent resident (PR) to become a naturalized citizen is that she must have continuously lived in the United States for at least 5 years (or 3 years, if one is married to a U.S. citizen). In addition, it is required that your mother must show that she has been physically present in the U.S. for 30 months. However, in your scenario, having lived in the U.S. for just 2 years, she will not probably qualify for citizenship at this moment. However, her period of residency in the U.S. will be credited to her. She should just renew her PR status. In addition, she needs to consider obtaining a Reentry Permit if she needs to remain outside of the U.S. for a long period. This will help to preserve her residency in the U.S. Contact an immigration attorney to plan for future actions on this issue.

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    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    She will not lose all the days she accumulated when she renews her green card. The days are calculated as a five-year "look back" from the date the N-400 (application for naturalization/citizenship) is properly filed with USCIS.

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    Irina Rostova

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Renewing the green card does not make you lose your days. The physical presence requirement is 30 months during the five years directly preceding the citizenship application. Your mother would have to list every trip she took outside the United States for the five years directly prior to her application and include the days that she was out.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Your understanding of physical presence is basically accurate; however, it is measured at the time of application and looking back over the past five years. So, the fact that your mother has not been out of the United States for more than six months and has been a legal resident for more than nine years is all very positive. The key is whether or not at the time she applies she will have accumulated 30 months of physical presence in the five year period prior to her application and interview.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The physical presence of 30 months out of the last five years comes into play when your mother is applying for the citizenship. Whenever she is ready to file for the citizenship application, she will need to look back five years and make sure that she has stayed in United States 30 months out of those years. As to renewing the 10 year card, there is no physical presence requirement. As long as she has maintained her residency by coming into the United States at least once a year, she will be fine.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    At the time of citizenship filing you look back five years and she must have thirty months in the United States during that period. The new 10 year card will not affect the calculations.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    For naturalization purposes, the physical presence requirement is at least 2.5 years of the five years preceding the filing of the naturalization application. So, if she is filing for citizenship/naturalization today (January 2017), she needs to have been physically present in the United States for >2.5 yrs since January 2012.

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