N-400 Residency Requirement

The requirements of continuous residence and physical presence are interrelated but are different requirements. Each requirement must be satisfied (unless otherwise specified) in order for the applicant to be eligible for naturalization.

Continuous Residence

An applicant must have resided continuously in the U.S. after his or her lawful permanent residence admission for at least 5 years prior to filing the naturalization application and up to the time of naturalization (Sec. 316. [8 U.S.C. 1427]).

An applicant must also establish that he or she has resided in the State or Service District having jurisdiction over the application for 3 months prior to filing.

There are 2 types of absences from the United States that are automatically presumed to break the continuity of residence:

  1. Absences of 6 months to 1 year
  2. Absences of one year or more

An officer may also review whether an applicant with multiple absences of less than 6 months will be able to satisfy the continuous residence and physical presence requirements. The applicant must demonstrate actual maintenance of his or her principal dwelling place, without regard to intent, in the U.S. through testimony and documentation.

Evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • The applicant did not terminate their employment in the U.S. or obtain employment while abroad.
  • The applicant’s immediate family remained in the U.S.
  • The applicant retained full access to his or her U.S. abode.
  • If applicant was studying aboard, bring a school transcript to the interview.
  • If applicant was caring for a sick relative, bring a doctor's letter.
  • If applicant was vacationing, bring proof of maintained bank account, credit card account, apartment lease, or other documentation to prove reason for absence.

Tsang and Associates will help you establish that your principle actual dwelling place is in the United States or establish residence within the United States for the required period of time.

Physical Presence

Applicants for naturalization under NA 316(a) are required to demonstrate physical presence in the U.S. for at least 30 months (913 days) before filing the application. (See NA 316(a). See CFR 316.).

Generally, an applicant is required to have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half the time for which his or her continuous residence is required:

  • For applicants with 5-year green card holder requirement, the physical residence requirement is 30 months.
  • For applicants with 5-year green card holder requirement, the physical residence requirement is 30 months.

An exception to the physical presence requirement exists where the applicant is (1) employed abroad either by the U.S government or with a public international organization, (2) is engaged in missionary work, or (3) works for certain U.S. companies abroad.

Mere possession of a permanent resident card for the period of time required for physical presence does not in itself establish the applicant’s physical presence for naturalization purposes. The applicant must demonstrate actual physical presence through documentation.

Documents that show when you’ve lived in the U.S. may include, but are not limited:

  • Rent receipts or utility bills
  • Employment records (such as pay stubs and W-2 forms)
  • School records (such as letters from the school, transcripts and report cards)
  • Military records
  • Official records of you taking part in a religious ceremony
  • Copies of money order receipts for money sent into or out of the U.S.
  • Passport entries
  • Birth certificates of your children born in the U.S.
  • Dated bank transactions
  • Your social security card
  • Automobile license receipts or registration
  • Deeds, mortgages or rental agreement contracts
  • Tax receipts
  • Insurance policies

Documents that show when you traveled outside the U.S. include:

  • Plane, train, bus or other transportation tickets
  • Itineraries showing travel dates
  • Passport entries
  • Hotel receipts showing dates you were abroad
  • Evidence of the reason why you traveled abroad (such as a marriage or death certificate or event announcement)
  • Copy of an advance parole travel document

Tsang and Associates will be able to help you prove to the USCIS officer that you satisfy the residency requirement with the proper documentation.