+1-800-997-1228
Questions & Answers

What are the physical residence requirements for naturalization after receiving a green card?

After receiving a green card from my EB-5 investment, is there a physical residence requirement for green card holders? I have heard that I need to have had my green card for 5 years and been physically residing in the U.S. for at least 2.5 years of those 5 years to apply for citizenship? What if I visited the United States for a few days at least every 6 months. Then, for the second 2.5 years, I was physically present in the U.S. continually. Would my application for naturalization be accepted? Or what are the criteria for this? I have heard that the authorities typically look for a physical residence of at least 6 months in each of the five years being counted towards naturalization.

Answers

  • Avatar

    Rebecca Singh

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    To qualify for naturalization, you must continuously reside in the United States for 5 years and be physically present for 2.5 years (30 months) out of those 5 years—along with other qualifications. The 5 years must immediately precede the date you file for naturalization. The physical presence can be accumulated throughout the 5 years. All trips outside the U.S. must be listed and issues can arise if those trips are longer than 6 months at a time.

  • Avatar

    Raymond Lahoud

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Thank you for your question. Once an individual is a naturalized citizen of the United States, there are no residency requirements with respect to living in the United States. The residency requirements only apply to lawful permanent residents ("green card. " holders).

  • Avatar

    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    To become a naturalized citizen, you must reside in the United States. for 5 years after obtaining your conditional Permanent Residency. However, as you indicated, you must be physically present in the U.S. at least half that time, so it would not be possible to come back to the U.S. only occasionally. When you file your application, you must be able to show that, in the prior 5 years, you have accumulated 30 months of physical presence in the U.S. You must also be able to pass an elementary test in American civics and history, and demonstrate a minimum fluency in reading, writing and speaking the English language.

  • Avatar

    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You must be physically present in the United States at least half of the five years you have the green card—at least 913 days. Continuous residence is another requirement, meaning you should not have any trips outside the United States that last longer than 180 days.

  • Avatar

    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The citizenship application eligibility states that you must be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months out of the 5-year period you spend in permanent residency. It does not require you to spread out that 30 months in any way. Thus, your option of backloading the physical presence to the latter part of the 5-year period will be fine.

  • Avatar

    Laura A Edgerton

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You are correct that the residency requirement is 5 years with 2.5 years of physical presence. Generally, you also cannot be gone for longer than 6 months at a time, as well. However, you can still be considered to have abandoned your permanent residence if you are gone for shorter periods. I would schedule a time to talk to an attorney about the possibilities of abandoning your permanent residence if you anticipate extended absences shortly after you receive your green card.

  • Avatar

    Diana Levy

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    All the statements you made in your inquiry are true. You must be a resident for at least 5 years and have been residing in the U.S. for at least half that time. If you have stayed outside the U.S. for more 6 months and spent most of your time outside the U.S. during the first 2.5 years of your residency, you would probably want to start counting the 5 years from the period when you started living mostly in the U.S. Otherwise, you might encounter a residency issue in the adjudication of your N-400 case.

  • Avatar

    Fredrick W Voigtmann

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There are no physical presence requirements to maintain your lawful permanent resident (green card) status. There is a physical presence requirement, among other requirements, to become a United States citizen through naturalization. To preserve your green card, you must maintain the intention to permanently reside in the U.S., which means that you should maintain a residence, a job or education, bank account, file resident tax returns if you earn a certain amount of income and not be absent from the United States for more than 180 days per trip, unless you have a reentry permit or some other valid reason (like a medical emergency). To qualify for U.S. citizenship, you must continuously reside in the U.S., i.e., have a green card status for five years and must be physically present in the U.S. for at least half that time with no absences of more than 180 days per trip. There are other requirements for naturalization unrelated to residence or presence, such as an English literacy requirement, passing a test on U.S. history/civics and an attachment to (agreement with) the U.S. Constitution.

  • Avatar

    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    For naturalization purposes, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for more than 5 years prior to applying and physically present in the U.S. for 2.5 years, among other requirements.

  • Avatar

    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    You are correct that one must be physically present 50% of the time to be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. However, any absence of more than 6 months breaks the continuity of residence. Visiting for a few days every 6 months omits the key fact that, at 2 years of conditional residence, the immigration authorities can see that cumulatively you have been out of the U.S. most of the time and can take away your green card based on abandonment. If, however, you have compelling facts justifying your absence, you can apply for a reentry permit which will make accusations of abandonment less likely. Thank you.

Add your comment

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment.