Continuous Residency

  • Applicants generally must be a continuous resident for 5 years subsequent to lawful permanent resident or green card status.
  • Must have resided for at least three months in the state where the application is filed
  • Must be physically present in U.S. for at least one-half of the 5 years (or one-half of 3 years if spouse of USC)
  • Must Reside Continuously in the U.S. from the Date of Filing to Admission to Citizenship
  • Marriage to a USC—If married to a USC the residency requirement is 3 years if: (i) the USC spouse is a USC for 3 years; and (ii) the parties have been “living in marital union” for 3 years. 8 CFR §319.1(a)(3). Same-sex marriages are covered. A divorce, legal separation, or even an informal separation may signify dissolution of the marital union. However, involuntary separations are not considered to break the marital union.
  • Must Reside Continuously in the U.S. from the Date of Filing to Admission to Citizenship—INA §316(a)(2)

In order to naturalize, the lawful permanent resident must establish both “continuous residence” and “physical presence” in the US prior to applying for naturalization. These concepts can be confusing for many individuals. Continuous presence is the maintenance of residence in the US over a period of time based on an individual’s actual place of abode or dwelling. US immigration laws require lawful permanent residents to maintain such continuous residence in order to avoid a finding of abandonment of residence.

For naturalization purposes, the lawful permanent resident must at least show five (5) years of continuous residence (three years if the permanent residence was acquired through marriage to a US Citizen). Physical presence is simply the number of days the lawful permanent resident actually physically resides in the US. To qualify for naturalization and unless exempt, the lawful permanent resident must show half of the statutory period of continuous residence as physically present in the US. Contact us for an analysis of your case and whether you meet the statutory requirement for citizenship.

The common issue that often arises is whether there has been continuity of residence since the foreign national received his or her permanent residence and whether he or she had interrupted this residence throughout this time. It is important to note that the physical presence requirement is normally determined at the time the application for naturalization is filed in terms of how many days the foreign national was in and out of the United States.

Factors that may establish continuity of residence include: (a) not terminating employment in U.S.; (b) presence of immediate family in U.S.; (c) retention of full access to U.S. home; and (d) not obtaining employment abroad. 8 CFR §316.5(c)(1)(i)(A)–(D). An absence of one year or more “shall” disrupt the continuity of residence 8 CFR §316.5(c)(1)(ii), even where the applicant had a reentry permit.

If you believe you may have an issue with maintaining continuity of residence, contact one of our competent immigration attorneys to discuss your case. The disruption of residence may become an issue in the naturalization application process even if it happened many years before the filing of the naturalization application.

An Austin immigration lawyer – Abogados de Inmigracion en Austin TX – can help you determine if you meet the continuance residence requirement for naturalization. Learn more by contacting Michael G. Murray, P.A today!

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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