Maintaining U.s. Residence For Naturalization

Thứ Năm, 09 Tháng Bảy 201511:35(Xem: 12356)
Maintaining U.s. Residence For Naturalization


Does travel outside the United States affect permanent resident status and does it increase the waiting time for Naturalization?   Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status or your eligibility for naturalization.


An applicant for naturalization needs to be physically present in the United States for at least half of the required time of residence.  For most people, that means being in the US for at least two and a half years out of the required five years.  If married to a US citizen, the requirement is at least one and a half out of three years.


For Naturalization requirements, you are free to go abroad for reasonable periods of time, but you must also maintain continuous residence in the US.   What does “continuous residence” mean? 


“Residence” basically means having and keeping ties to the US, even though you may be outside the States for several months.   This is similar to Vietnamese tourist visa applicants.  They have to show that they have family and economic ties to Vietnam and they do not intend to abandon their home in Vietnam.


So, with naturalization in mind, residence means having an actual place to live and other ties to the US such as a job, a family, property ownership, bank account, US mailing address, filing tax returns as a resident every year.  It also means not giving up your US job in order to accept employment abroad.    “Residence” means that you clearly have the intention of living in the US as a permanent resident, at least until you become a citizen.


If your trips abroad are less than six months each, CIS will usually not question you when you apply for Naturalization.  However, if you are outside the US for more than six months – but less than one year – CIS may ask you to show that you did not break the continuous residence period.   CIS may be satisfied if you can show that you did not quit your job in the US and did not become employed outside the US, that your immediate family remained here in the US and that you kept your home in the US.  If you cannot provide this evidence to CIS, your wait time for Naturalization application will be increased. 


Of course there may be situations beyond your control that may require you to be in Vietnam for more than six months.  Medical conditions that prevent travel, or family emergencies, are two examples.   If these are well documented, CIS will be satisfied.


Absence from the States for a continuous period of one year or more will almost always break the continuity of residence.  The only exception is if you are in the US military, or employed abroad by the US government or a US government contractor.  Otherwise, if you are abroad for more than a year, CIS will add four years to your wait time for Naturalization, starting from the date of your return to the US.   If you are married to a US citizen, CIS will add two years wait, starting from your return to the US.


Let’s look at a situation where everything is a problem:  An unmarried permanent resident has been in the US for 2 years.  He has a job that he does not like.   He rents an apartment.  A friend in Vietnam offers him a job so he decides to go there for several months until he can locate a better job in the US.   He sells his car, vacates his apartment, closes his US bank account.  He no longer has any ties to the US.


While back in Vietnam, he files his US tax return using form 1040NR, claiming that he is a non-resident alien, hoping that will lower his taxes.  After 7 or 8 months he returns to the US, gets a new job, a new car, a new apartment.  Eventually, he applies for Naturalization.


CIS denies the N-400 application.  They say that while he was in Vietnam for more than six months, he did not maintain US residence status, so he broke the continuous residence requirement.  And, when he claimed to be a non-resident on his tax return, that also meant he was breaking the continuous residence status.


In general, it is best to limit pleasure trips abroad to a couple of months.  If a longer stay is anticipated, you should obtain a Re-entry permit before you leave.  That will show CIS that you intended only a temporary absence from the US.



Q.1.  What happens if a permanent resident loses the Green Card while in Vietnam?

 A.1.  A travel letter or returning resident visa can be obtained from Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), 8th Floor of Diamond Plaza,  9:00 – 11:00 a.m. on Monday and Thursday.


 Q.2.  If you are outside the US for more than one year, can a lost Green Card be replaced?

 A.2.  You would have to prove to ICE than the long time abroad was due to circumstances beyond your control, and that you do have evidence of maintaining a US residence while you were abroad. 



Q. 3.  What happens if you return to the US after an absence of more than a year and you lack proof of continuous residence in the US? 

 A.3.  At the arrival airport, ICE will probably confiscate your Green Card and give you an appointment for a delayed inspection.   You might lose permanent resident status.  If that happens, your sponsor will have to file a new immigrant visa on your behalf. 


Immigration Support Services - Tham Van Di Tru      

9070 Bolsa Ave.,  Westminster CA  92683                 (714) 890-9933
779 Story Road, Ste. 70, San Jose, CA 95122           (408) 294-3888
6930 65th St. Ste. #105, Sacramento CA 95823         (916) 393-3388
Rang Mi - 47 Phung Khac Khoan, Q1, HCMC            (848) 3914-7638
Thứ Tư, 01 Tháng Bảy 2015(Xem: 12868)
Who will benefit with the Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage?
Thứ Tư, 17 Tháng Sáu 2015(Xem: 18144)
As a battered spouse, you may apply for your Green Card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The VAWA provisions allow certain spouses of U.S.
Thứ Tư, 10 Tháng Sáu 2015(Xem: 14503)
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced a rule that will now make it possible for dependents of F-1 students to study in the United States on a limited basis.
Thứ Ba, 26 Tháng Năm 2015(Xem: 13590)
The US-Vietnamese Adoption Program was resumed last year. There were three important aspects to this new program, now called the Special Adoption Program:
Thứ Năm, 21 Tháng Năm 2015(Xem: 14814)
The White House has announced that President Obama has done all that he can to change immigration policy through executive action.
Thứ Năm, 14 Tháng Năm 2015(Xem: 32589)
More than 4.4 million people are on the legal immigrant visa waiting list according to the State Department.
Thứ Tư, 06 Tháng Năm 2015(Xem: 14205)
For Vietnamese immigrants, there are two basic categories that offer a Green Card: Family sponsored immigrants and Employment based immigrants.
Thứ Tư, 29 Tháng Tư 2015(Xem: 13358)
Last year, the news reports said that Vietnam — a communist nation that shows little regard for basic human rights — has become the first Southeast Asian country to lift its ban on same-sex marriage.
Thứ Tư, 22 Tháng Tư 2015(Xem: 14532)
The injunction that is holding up the start of the New DACA and the DAPA was not lifted at the appeals court hearing on 17 April.
Thứ Tư, 15 Tháng Tư 2015(Xem: 13560)
Last week, Democratic legislative leaders proposed a package of bills that would greatly expand protections for California’s 1.8 million illegal immigrants. This is far beyond what's offered by any other state.