Background

Continuous Residence and Physical Presence

U.S. Residency Requirements for Potential Citizens

Help From Our Qualified Los Angeles Immigration Attorneys

Continuous residence and physical presence are two of the general requirements to become a citizen. The two requirements are interrelated but they are different requirements, therefore it is important that you consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you have met both requirements.

The concept of continuous residence involves the applicant maintaining a permanent dwelling place (or domicile) in the United States over the period of time required by the statute. Generally, the statute requires 5 years of continuous residence. However, spouses of U.S. citizens are only required to have 3 years of continuous residence. And certain military members are completely exempt from this requirement.

There are two types of absences from the United States that are automatically presumed to break the continuity of residence for purposes of naturalization:

  • Absences of more than 6 months but less than one year; and
  • Absences of one year or more.

What If You Were Absent for More Than 6 Months But Less Than One Year?

If you were absent from the United States more than six months (more than 181 days but less than one year (less than 365 days)) during the period for which continuous residence is required, immigration will presume a break in the continuity of your residence. However, our offices can help you overcome this presumption of loss of your continuity of residence by presenting evidence demonstrating that you did not in fact disrupt your residence. We will present documentation that you did not terminate your employment in the United States or obtain employment while abroad, your immediate family remained in the United States, and you retained full access to your United States abode.

Determining the exact days of continuous residence is important because if you were absent from the United States for a period of one year or more your citizenship application will almost certainly be denied. The attorneys at our firm are qualified to help you assess your case to determine whether you met this requirement and to help you overcome presumptions of break in continuous residence.

What If You Were Absent for One Year or More?

As for the second general requirement for citizenship, an applicant is required to have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time for which his or her continuous residence is required. Physical presence refers to the number of days the applicant must physically be present in the United States. For a general citizenship application, the applicant must have at least 30 months of physical presence in the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident. The spouses of U.S. citizens must be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months.

Call (562) 445-4870 to speak with our Los Angeles citizenship attorneys who can help you determine your continuous residence and physical presence in the United States.

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