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How many years do I have to keep continuous residency in the U.S. to apply for citizenship?

I became an unconditional permanent resident through EB-5 in April of 2015. Then I obtained a reentry permit and resided outside the U.S. from Sept. 2015 to Sept. 2017 before moving back again. Does the time I spent outside the U.S. on the reentry permit break my continuous residence for the purpose of naturalization? In my case, when will I be eligible to file for citizenship?

Answers

  • Avatar

    Ed Beshara

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Five years after obtaining conditional permanent residency, you can then file your application for naturalization. However, at the time of filing the naturalization application, 50 percent of your time and physical presence has to have been spent in the U.S.

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    A Olusanjo Omoniyi

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The time spent outside the US does break the continuous residence requirement for naturalization. As a result, the time spent outside the US has to be made up so as to meet the residency requirement and to avoid unnecessary filing errors. Advisably, consult an immigration attorney for proper calculation of the time.

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    Daniel A Zeft

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The time spent outside of the U.S. with a valid reentry permit does not break continuous residence for purposes of naturalization. You are eligible to file for citizenship after you have been a permanent resident for 5 years. The clock can begin.

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    Bernard P Wolfsdorf

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    The extended absence does break the continuity of your permanent residence and it is likely you may have a problem applying for U.S. naturalization at this time. Under the four years and one day rule, you can apply four years and one day from the time you re-establish residence. Of course, you can try and aggregate time because the 5 years of residence starts from the time your conditional residence is granted, not the time your full green card is issued. Also, the reason for the absence may be important and may provide some flexibility. The conservative approach is to wait, and if you want to try, you can try earlier, maybe in about 2 years but expect the possibility that it may be rejected. But that should not prejudice applying at four years and one day from September 2017.

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    Lynne Feldman

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Looking back five years, you must be physically present most of the time with no breaks greater than 180 days. So clock starts for you September 2017. There is also a 4-year-and-1-day rule when you apply for a reentry permit, so you can look that up as well.

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    Marko Issever

    EB-5 Broker Dealer
    Answered on

    Unfortunately, it appears that you have broken the continuous residency requirement by being away for a full two years, even though you had a reentry permit. You will need to count your five years from September 2017. You will need to prove that you resided in the U.S. for at least 30 months in that five year period. If you are planning to be away for an extended period again for some reason, try not be away for six months or more. If you do, you could put yourself into the danger of breaking the continuous residency requirement again.

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    Belma Chinchoy

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Yes, any trip of six months or more breaks the residence. You need 2.5 years of physical presence and 5 years of legal permanent residence status, including conditional residence.

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    Salvatore Picataggio

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    That is still time physically out of the U.S., even if you had permission to return. So it seems you may have to wait so you meet the requirements for presence.

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    BoBi Ahn

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Depending on how you obtained your permanent residence, when you can apply for naturalization would differ. For marriage-based green card holder, you can apply 3 years after gaining conditional permanent residency. For all others, it is 5 years after gaining conditional permanent residence (not from after removal of condition). You also need to be physically present in the U.S. for more than 50% of the last 3 years (for marriage based GC holder) and more than 50% of 5 yrs (for all others), among other requirements for naturalization.

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    Charles Foster

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    After you become a conditional permanent resident, you may apply for your U.S. citizenship after five years. Technically, you could even file three months sooner provided that you have maintained the majority of your time in the United States and you can pass an elementary test in English and American Civics. If you are out of the U.S. for a continuous period of six months, you are likely to be deemed to have broken your five-year residency period for U.S. citizenship. Being out two years, you may have to start accruing your five-year after September 2017.

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    Jinhee Wilde

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    There is a physical presence requirement for filing the N-400 naturalization application. You must be a permanent resident for at least 5 years and you must have spent 50% of those 5 years in the States. Thus, having spent the past 2 years outside of the States will keep you from applying for citizenship for another year and a half or so. You must have spent 30 months out of 60 months in the States immediately before filing N-400.

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    Mitch Wexler

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Yes. A departure of longer than 1 year breaks the continuity of continuous residence in the US. Generally, you would need to reenter the U.S. for 4 years and 1 day to be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

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    Sarah A Schroeder

    Immigration Attorney
    Answered on

    Yes the time abroad breaks your continuous residence. You must return to the U.S. and reside here for 4 years and 1 day to reestablish your continuity of residence.

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