inside immigration information about marriage green cards and work visas in America


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A naturalization applicant must meet all 4 residence and physical presence requirements to qualify for naturalization (USA citizenship).

Requirement Number 1: 5/3 Years of “Continuous Residence” in USA

An applicant for U.S. naturalization must have “resided continuously” in the USA as an LPR (green card holder) for the last 5 years immediately prior to applying for naturalization. If the applicant is still married to the U.S. Citizen who sponsored them for their LPR status, the continuous residence period is 3 years. INA § 316(a)(1).  An applicant may leave the USA during the 5/3 years, but no single trip is supposed to be for over 6 months (180 days).

What if I have 1 trip in the last 5/3 years that was over 6 months?

As stated above, if a person left the U.S. for a trip lasting less than 6 months, continuous residence is not “disrupted” even though they left the USA and therefore the continuous residence requirement is satisfied.

But what if a person left the USA for even 1 trip lasting 6-12 months? If they want to apply for USA citizenship they would have to prove that even though they left for that long of a trip, they did not disrupt their “continuity of residence” in the USA.

How does an applicant prove they did not disrupt their “continuity of residence” in America if they left the USA for 6-12 months? The following type of evidence that is normally included with the N-400 application for naturalization when a person has a 6-12 month trip during the last 5/3 years are documents like this: 

  • proof that employment in the U.S. was not terminated
  • proof that applicant’s immediate family remained in U.S. while he was abroad
  • proof that the applicant retained full access to his home in the U.S.
  • proof that the applicant did not find new employment while abroad
  • USA bank statements
  • USA tax returns with USA residence on them
  • proof of USA auto insurance
  • proof of medical insurance in USA
  • house or rent payments for USA residence
  • USA driver’s license
  • USA credit cards
  • photographs taken while in USA
  • membership in USA organizations
  • USA school transcripts

Sorry, but it is impossible for me to list all of the evidence here because each person’s situation is different. The applicant should tell the interviewing Immigration Officer at the citizenship interview that his/her intent was not to disrupt the continuity of residence in the USA and that their 6-12 month trip abroad was merely temporary in nature.

WEBSITE.SCALESIf an applicant has at least one trip of 6-12 months, they should know that it will be up to the interviewing Immigration Officer whether to excuse that trip or not. It is entirely in that officer’s discretion on the day of the citizenship interview. Often success depends on how professionally prepared the N-400 package appears. Occasionally a supervisor gets involved.  If the Immigration Officer indicates that they are not inclined to approve the application for USA citizenship, it is allowed for the applicant to ask that their N-400 be withdrawn, but the government fees will not be refunded.

In my opinion, submitting an N-400 with two trips of 6-12 months is pushing it, but some say, why not try, all I have to lose is my time and government fees?

Many green card holders who have traveled abroad for trips of 6 – 12 months hire an immigration attorney to either represent them, or to at least review and critique their N400 applications before submitting them to the USCIS for a better chance of success.

What if I have 1 trip that is over 1 year? What is the 4 Years+ 1 Day Rule?

If a person has even 1 trip for over 1 year (365 days) they definitely have broken the “continuity of residence.”  The Immigration Officers are not allowed to excuse a 1+ year trip like they can a 6-12 month trip. However, there is a rule that states that an applicant may “restart the clock” on the day they returned from the 1 year (or more) trip – and that they don’t have to wait the full 5 years again, but only 4 years + 1 day (for applicants married to USA citizens, it is a 2 years + 1 day rule).

The best way to explain this rule is to give you an example:

• An applicant became a Permanent Resident on January 1, 1994.
• She lived in the United States for 3 years, then returned to her native country for 1 year and 3 Months.
• She got a Re-entry Permit before leaving the United States so that she could keep her Permanent Resident status and return even though she was gone for more than 1 year.
• The applicant re-entered the USA using her Re-entry Permit, green card, passport and “ties to America” documents on April 1, 1998.

When is she eligible for naturalization according to the 4 years + 1 day rule? April 2, 2002, which is 4 years and 1 day after she returned to the United States on April 1, 1998. Using the calculator, she entered April 1, 1998 and added 365 x 4 + 1 (1461 days) and the result was April 2, 2002. If the N-400 is received by the USCIS even one day early (cannot use the 90 day rule in this situation) it will be rejected. Sometimes the USCIS accidently accepts an N-400 early, but the Immigration Officer notices it at the citizenship interview and denies the case (and no refund of the government fees!).

FYI, the last 364 days that the applicant was out of the USA counted toward her time as a Permanent Resident in “continuous residence,” but the 3 years in the USA before she left did not.

Can an applicant travel during the 4 years + 1 day rule period?

Yes, an applicant can travel during the 4 years + 1 day period, but they still have to abide by the “continuity of residence” rules which means no trips over 6 months.

Can I Use the 4 Year + 1 Day Rule After a 6-12 Month Trip?

Maybe. 8 CFR 316.5(c)(1)(ii) states that if a naturalization applicant disrupts her permanent resident status by leaving the USA for over 1 year, than she can reapply. The rule does not say anything about a green card holder who left the USA for 6-12 months.  Does the rule apply or not? Because the rule is not clear, it is up to the USCIS Officer’s discretion whether the 4 Year +1 Day Rule applies for a green card holder who has been outside the USA for 6-12 months (and not over 1 year).

Some immigration attorneys have successfully won theFather giving son piggyback ridese cases by saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has often stated that “nothing is better settled than that statutes should receive a sensible construction such as will effectuate the legislative intention, and, if possible, so as to avoid an unjust or an absurd conclusion.” (Lau Ow Bew v. United States, 144 U.S. 47, 59 (1892)).  The immigration attorneys have argued that if the 4 year + 1 day rule only applies to applicants out of the USA for more than 1 year, that is an “absurd conclusion” of the statute.  Therefore, a naturalization applicant who wishes to try to use the 4 Year + 1 Day Rule in 6-12 month absence situations is definitely risking a delay in their citizenship and a possible denial.

AND Requirement Number 2: 3 Months of Local Residence

The applicant must have resided in the state or USCIS District where the N400 application is filed for 3 months immediately prior to applying (filing) for naturalization. INA § 316 (a)(1).

AND Requirement No. 3: Continuous Residence After Submitting N400 Application

The applicant must continuously reside in the U.S. from the date of filing the N400 naturalization application until the oath ceremony. INA § 316 (a)(2).

Continuous residence does not mean that the naturalization applicant must remain in the U.S. during the entire period while he is waiting for his N400 application to be processed. Generally, it means that he cannot reside or move to another country while waiting for the USCIS to decide about his N400 application. Thus, an applicant can make temporary visits while the N400 is pending, as long as he has evidence such as proof that he maintained his home in the U.S., filed U.S. tax returns, retained his employment in the U.S., etc.

AND Requirement Number 4: Physical Presence

The applicant must be physically present in the U.S. for at least ½ of the 5 (or 3) year residence period immediately prior to submitting the N400 application (see “forms” and then “N-400” at for naturalization. It’s a fairly simple math calculation.

The easiest way to figure out if this requirement is satisfied is to fill out page 4 of the N-400 located on Use to calculate the days abroad – please do not use a regular paper calendar.

To satisfy this requirement, your total number of days outside the USA should be less than 912.5 days (5 years x 365 days = 1825 days divided by 2 = 912.5 days). If you are eligible to file the N-400 after 3 years because you are married to a USA citizen, your total number of days outside the USA on page 4 of the N400 should be less than 547.5 days (3 years x 365 days = 1095 days divided by 2 = 547.5 days).

This calculation is not different if you are using the “4 years + 1 day” rule (see above) except that the first 364 days will be automatically counted as outside the USA.

What is that rule about filing 90 days early?

The USCIS allows applicants to file a N-400 up to 90 days early.  However, if you send the N-400 even 1 day too early, it will be rejected.  Figure out the 90 day date by using the USCIS “Filing Date Calculator:”

Early N400 Filing Date Calculator

An applicant is not allowed to combine the “90 day early” rule with the “4 years + 1 day” rule.

What is the rule about filing the N400 “late?”

There is no rule about filing the N400 late.  A green card holder can file an N400 even twenty years after they first got their green card.


Therefore, in order to figure out if it is time to file for USA citizenship, you need to sit down and analyze whether you meet ALL 4 of the requirements above.

Are there some other exceptions?  Sometidanielle nelissemes, but that will take either more legal research on your part, or the hiring of an immigration attorney to explain all of the exceptions to you.

NOTE:  Attorney Nelisse no longer handles N400 citizenship cases.


  1. Elizabeth Unni
    December 31, 2013

    Dear Danielle,

    Great blog and good information. my question is a little different. My friend completed the naturalization interview and is approved. He is scheduled for oath ceremony on Jan 23rd… but he will have to reschedule it since he is now outside the country. After the approved interview, does he still have to keep the less than 6 months stay outside rule?


    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 31, 2013

      Dear Elizabeth,

      The best advice I can give is for your friend to come back into the USA and attend the oath ceremony on Jan 23rd.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

      • Anonymous
        December 31, 2013

        Thank you!

      • Elizabeth
        December 31, 2013

        Thank you!

    December 17, 2013

    Hi Danielle,

    Thanks for this great blog, I have a question regarding the physical presence, is the 1/2 time of the five years Calculated from last time you returned to USA or is it the sum of the total presence in the States during the 5 years, in other words if I
    Have been traveling in and out during the first three years and then came back and stayed for the last two years but in total I was in the States for more than half time is that considered enough to apply.
    Thanks for your help

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 19, 2013

      Dear Jak,

      Your question is quite confusing. Please fill out the N400 (page 4 in particular) citizenship application on and then re-read my blog and see if you can rephrase the question.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  3. ooybarrett
    December 17, 2013

    Dear Danielle,
    My Case is, I was filling my N-400 before 3 months in District, i came to US with K3 visa and i lived in NC from 2007 then we bought a house 2008 and got my green card Feb 2009, 2010 My husband got an order to location in HI for 3 years after we move back to NC only one month i apply for my N-400 then at the interview the officer told i fail because i apply before 3 months in district and i had my husband talks to him then he let me take a test and i passed all the test after that he gave me the result paper and said they will send me a letter. I don’t know what letter they will send me… anything i can do with my case?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 19, 2013

      Dear Ooy,

      Sorry, but I cannot say what will happen.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  4. Al
    December 10, 2013

    Hello Danielle,
    I and my wife got the greencards back in March 2009. But we both have good jobs so we continued to live and work in our home country (Turkey) and travel every 6-8 months to USA, meanwhile applied for jobs in USA ultimately to move to US permanently. Finally, we moved to USA pemanently in August 2012 and living in USA since then with no trips outside of USA. My question is: would we be eligible to apply for citizenship after 30 months around February 2015 since we started living in US permanently after August 2012? If not when would we be eligible for citizenship?
    Thank you

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 19, 2013

      Dear Atuncer:

      You will have to check the rules in 2015.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  5. akroezen
    December 9, 2013

    Hi Danielle,

    This information is great! I have a question, and I understand if you are not able to answer it on a free blog – but thanks for reading anyway.
    My husband (Australian) and I (American) just returned from his N-400 interview. Everything went great except the proof that we did not abandon residency when traveling to Australia. We traveled to Oz 03/10-9/11. We didn’t go there with intentions of being gone that long, but got pregnant and did not want to return here with no health insurance. He had a valid re-entry permit, and got back in the country with no trouble.
    The immigration officer said everything was great, but she has to send out a request for more information to prove we didn’t abandon residency. We don’t really have much to offer.

    He has copies of the IRS letters for filing taxes for the time he was gone
    Maintained a valid US drivers license
    Kept our bank accounts open
    Paid monthly on my student loan account out of that account but we had no other bills.
    All of our material things were stored at my family’s (the address on our bank accounts, taxes, had been updated with immigration) – this included our car but we did not keep insurance on it since we were not driving it. When we returned, we stayed living at this address for a while as well.

    – We did not have rent, mortgage, any other bills, or employment here in the states. We also did work in Oz to support our time there. We only went so that I could learn about his culture and meet all of his family as we felt it important for our marriage. I know you can’t say for sure, but does that sound like it might be enough proof to provide? Should we withdraw the application? If he gets denied, when could we apply again? We have been in the States since 9/12/2011 and applied for N-400 on 9/13/2013.

  6. Vlad
    November 11, 2013


    I’m so glad that I found this website! My wife and I have filled out the N-400 forms along with all paperwork and planned to send them TOMORROW!! We planned to apply based on 4 year + 1 day rule, but we had no idea that in such case the “90-day in advance” rule doesn’t apply. Only your website has this info! Based on the info at we were eligible to apply. So you saved us $1360 + express shipping 🙂 Thanks!
    Since I got confused with my dates, I would very much appreciate your advice.
    After more than one year absence we came to the US on 11/25/2009 (we had re-entry permits). After that we only left US for short trips for a total of 35 days. Please let me know when is the earliest we can apply.
    Thank you again!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 13, 2013

      Dear Vlad,
      Thank you for the compliments. You sound very nice, but I am sorry I cannot provide the answers you seek. I prefer not to analyze individual cases in this free blog because I may not know everything I need to know about you and do not want to offer advice that is not good for you. I hope you understand.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  7. Annie
    November 11, 2013

    Dear Danielle,

    I got my Conditional Permanent Resident on February 12th, 2013. My question is “how does they calculate the days outside the U.S in a year? Using calendar year 2013 or period of year from 2/12/2013 to 2/12/2014?

    Since I got my green card, I have travelled back to my country once for 59 days (almost 2 months) and to Canada three times for total 15 days. I plan to go back to my country in the end of this year, 12/20/2013 to 1/20/2014, is it counted for year 2013 or 2014?

    I want to make sure that I don’t go over 6 months a year. I hope to have your reply to my concern here.

    Thank you so much and have a great day!


    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 13, 2013

      Dear Annie,

      I find the best way to figure out (and keep track of) your days out of the USA as a green card holder is to print out page 4 of the N400 (found on for free) and record your trips on that page. By doing that you will see what time period is used for the analysis.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  8. Jean
    November 1, 2013

    I have been a green card holder for the last 7 years and I still haven’t had time to get naturalized. I just recently got married and is planning on finishing my naturalization process. I am also thinking about changing my name during the process. However, I am planning on petition my mom soon. So my question is, if i change my name in the naturalization process will I still be able to petition my mom for a green card afterward?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 6, 2013

      Dear Jean,

      Yes, if you change your name during the naturalization process, you will still be able to petition your mom for a green card afterwards. the naturalization certificate should contain information about your name change.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  9. Olanrewaju Bakare
    October 30, 2013

    My name is Bakare, and i would appreciate if you can look into my case properly… I am a student here in the Philippines , i am taking up Pharmacy and i am also a Legal Permanent Resident in the USA.since nov 2011.. i am always going back and forth the USA to philippines because of my education . the last time I went back to the USA was on Oct 13, 2013 and i left on Oct 27th, 2013 in order to be back to Philippines because i need to start my internship but on getting to the airport the immigration stopped me asked me series of questions, I was asked if i have a personal house in the USA i mean the house i bought myself , i told him NO, but i told him i had lived in Chicago with a friend before and i was also coming from Maryland where my sister lives that very day, from there he started writing some information on the sheet of papers, he searched my luggage and told me i am abandoning my residency by traveling abroad, i told him NO but i have to complete my studies in the Philippines.. I have never been out for more than six months before…. though he wrote all d information on my Green card , the addresses i lived before and who also lived there at the moment..I tried so hard to explain myself to the best of my knowledge but i really don’t understand what he wrote on the paper but he didn’t get my seize my green card from me.. Now i am scared of what will happen if i am going back to the USA because i am back to the Philippines now but i intend neglecting my education here and go back to the USA within 3weeks from now.. i am so worried because i dont know what will happen at the port of entry . Pls advice me though i have never been out of USA for a single trip of over 6 months…
    Thank you

    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 1, 2013

      Dear OB:

      To have the best chance of re-entry to the USA, I would have proof in a large envelope to give to the immigration officer at the american airport of these things:

      1. american bank account statement (you can print out statements online while in PI)
      2. american tax return for 2012 (you can file it from PI if you haven’t already)
      3. american driver’s license or american state id card
      4. american credit cards, library card, any other american memberships
      5. facebook page that shows what american city you live in
      6. proof of address in america (rental agreement signed by person whom you will be living with)
      7. proof of resignation from PI school
      8. job offer letter from american company
      9. proof that you own car in america
      10. ANYTHING ELSE you can think of that proves you intend to live in the USA permanently and are cutting ties with the PI

      Also: Eat well on the plane so your body is prepared to wait in secondary for an extended period of time and so your mind is sharp. Bring something to read so you will remain calm while waiting to be questioned. As you know, your phone (text messages, voicemails, phone call history) and laptop/ipad (photos, emails, facebook, etc.) can be searched for proof you intend to live in the USA permanently. Expect a strict immigration officer to question you and be ready to explain why you won’t leave the USA again in the near future.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  10. zahra
    October 21, 2013

    My Mother entered US on Sep 2007. on April 2013 applied for Citizenship. the firs exam was not passed and the second exam is passed. the officer found she is short by 25 days because her five years was counted from April 2013 therefore the first seven months of her green card from Sep to April 2007 is not counted. she is 77 years old. I need to know what should we do. If she appeals is there any possibility for them to consider the number of days that she is in US from April 2013 until now. my father’s number of days are the same but he passed the test and the officer didn’t say anything. is this something that we may refer to. my parents always been together. Since he is a US citizen now can my mom refer to her husband citizenship. please advise. when is the earliest time my mom may apply for the citizenship again. is there any hope for the current application if she appeals. thanks

    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 22, 2013

      Dear Zahra,

      This is very important to please pay to meet with an immigration attorney and show them everything and get a written legal opinion. Please do not rely on free blog advice for such an important matter.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  11. glenn mark
    October 11, 2013

    Good day! Your blog is useful for people who wants to be clarified about filing citizenship. I salute you for being so helpful! My question is, Can I still file my N400 application even if it is already more than 90 days period? What is the effect of filing beyond or more than 90 day period? What do you mean by physically present in U.S. prior to submitting the application? If I will file in November, do I start counting from August to October? Thank you so much for being patient and for your generosity.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 12, 2013

      Dear Glenn,

      Thank you for your kind words.

      There is no deadline to file the N400. The 90 day rule only applies to applicants who are trying to file it “early.” I have some green card holder clients who wait twenty years before filing their N400 and it was approved. I’m not sure why this is an issue lately – did the USCIS write something new in the instructions that is confusing everyone?

      Concerning the 3 month physical presence, here is the rule: The applicant must have resided in the state or USCIS District where the N400 application is filed for 3 months immediately prior to applying for naturalization. INA § 316 (a)(1). The word “applying” means “filing” the N400. An N400 is considered “filed” on the day the USCIS receives the N400. Therefore, if you wish to apply on November 1, you should be physically inside the USA for the three months of August, September and October.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  12. JJ
    October 7, 2013

    I have been a permanent resident for about 15 years. The first 12 years I was physically present in California (school, work, etc.) with no travel outside of the U.S. for longer than even 1 month. 3 years ago, I relocated to Hong Kong for work. Before moving, I applied for a re-entry permit. Unfortunately, I didn’t file for N470 (Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes) before moving.

    My question is, does the 5 year continuity requirement (for naturalization purposes) not take into account the more-than-10-years of continuity after otaining the green card? In other words, does USCIS put emphasis only on the past 5 years’ continuity?

    Thank you.

  13. Maria Glenda bernard
    October 2, 2013

    Greetings! I am married to a U.S. citizen in 2009. I got here in USA on Nov. 3, 2010 and got my Permanent Resident Card. After 2 years I apply for the removal of my conditional residence and was issued another Permanent Res. Card last April 2013 with expiry date March 27, 2023.

    I will be 3 years resident this coming November 3, 2013, therefore, I am qualified to apply for my citizenship. I went to the Philippines last April 6, 2013 and returned back on May 25, 2013, a matter of 49 days. I think I didn’t disrupt my residency. Counting on the 90 day rule, I should have filed my N 400 last August 5, 2013. I think I just overlooked the date for me to apply. I am going to mail my application on Monday, Oct. 8. Do you think there a problem in my filing considering that it is already more than 90 day period? Thank you so much!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 4, 2013

      Dear Maria,

      There is no deadline for green card holders to file the N400 application for naturalization. Therefore your application will not be considered late.

      Some green card holders wait 10-20 years before filing their N400 and are still approved.

      Kind regards,

      Danielle Nelisse

  14. JGD
    September 30, 2013

    Dear Sir,
    We got our GC on Sept 2nd, 2009. We stayed in US till Oct 2010. Due to work reasons, my husband had to work from India, so we temporarily moved to India. We are continuing to keep our apartment, pay bills, taxes, bank accounts, etc. We applied for N470 and got the approval in June 2011. Between Oct 2010 and June 2011, we made sure we did not stay out of US for more than 4 and half months, just to be safe. We have an approved N470 and re-entry permit . My husband travels between US and India. He works mostly from India, as per N470 approval and terms. He visits US twice a year each time for roughly 2 months or so.

    Our family is planning to come to US in April 2014 and stay for 3 months and then, my husband will apply for citizenship in July 2014. By that time, he will have completed 30 months (maybe 15 days or so more) physical presence also.

    The confusion we have now is regarding the travel after applying for USC..

    Do we have to maintain continuous residence AND physical presense, up until interview/oath
    Do we need to maintain only continuos residency till interview/oath ???

    This will make a difference to us, since my husband will have just around 30-31 months of physical presence by July 2014..
    Will the following plan be ok?

    Here is a rough plan. Please advice.

    1. My husband will stay for 3 months in US district (chicago in ourcase) before applying for citizenship.
    2. He will complete fingerprinting in chicago itself.
    3. After he completes fingerprinting, he will go abroad and work from India, until he gets the interview call. This is the part where I need your input. Since he will still be on N470 (it has no end date), he will be carrying on his work as per the permission given in N470, from India. He will make sure he doesn’t stay for more than 4-5 months at a time, so that continuous residency is not broken. Will that be ok??
    4. Related to point 3, is it enough if he has accumulated physical presence of 30-31 months before applying for USC, by July 2014 (Sept 2009-July 2014)? Or, will the physical presence be re-calculated at the time of interview and oath? For example, say he gets his interview/oath appointment in October.If he has applied in July, then Oct-July = 4 months. Now, should he stay in US for atleast half of 4 months ie., 2 months so that physical presence too is satisfied all the way till interview/oath? Will USCIS re-calculate his physical presence from Oct 2014 backwards to Oct 2009, or will it be considered 5 years backwards from July 2014? Will having N470 make any difference in this regard and make it easier for him to continue his work from India??

    Kindly advice and clarify.

    Thanks a ton!

  15. acrm
    September 24, 2013

    I received my GC on July 18th, 2008. I filled N-400 on May 2nd , 2013. I was out of US for 760 days as on May 2nd, 2013. So I do fulfill the 912.5 day physical presence requirement. After filing N-400 I had to travel again. My interview was on Sept 18th, 2013. Will my physical presence in US be counted from the interview date counting backward for 5 years or is fulfilling the requirement for N-400 sufficient.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      September 24, 2013

      Dear ACRM,

      The interviewing immigration officer is allowed to take all travel into consideration when making a decision about whether to grant citizenship.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  16. Ron
    September 13, 2013

    Danielle Nelisse,
    Good day to you my question is after being married for three years and divorce to first wife, I am marrying an old girlfriend. I am a permanent resident this year 2013, will this affect my citizenship application, in three years time.
    best regards

  17. Jennifer
    August 28, 2013

    My dad has green card since year 2001, and he only traveled out of the country once from Nov 2012 to May 2013 (199 days past 6 months). For the last 12 years, only 1 recent trip over 6 months, does he still have to submit documents of ” prove of continuity of residence”? Thanks!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 30, 2013

      Dear Jennifer,

      Yes. Sorry, but the fact that an applicant only had one trip in 12 years of over 6 months does not excuse an applicant from proving continuity of residence.

      It is a good idea to err on the side of caution in these cases since the approval is up to the immigration officer’s discretion and you don’t want the case delayed. Therefore, an applicant should submit A LOT of residence evidence and keep a copy of what they submit to the USCIS in case it is questioned and they need to consult an immigration attorney later.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  18. Nkay
    July 28, 2013

    Goodafternoon, pls i need your advice on this. my family resides in somerset, NJ. i have a green card which i have held for 7yrs but i have been studying in Gambia and just graduated this summer. I wish to come back to my family and apply for citizenship. Pls do i need to still spend the two and half years out of the 5yrs to apply? or should the years of my study abroad make up for the physical presence requirement to be eligible to make the application?

    Thanks and warmest regards

  19. nelson
    July 24, 2013

    Please help. I been a green card holder for 8 years. I fielded 2010 and 2011 taxes at the end of 2012. I am paying the irs 200$ a month. I still owe then over 4000 (i been paying on time) can i still apply for citizenship? And what are the risks? If yes, do i nead a lawyer? Thank you so much. 🙂

  20. AC Enrickson
    July 3, 2013

    Hi,Ms.Nelisse.I entered the US as an immigrant last year.The officer at the port of entry was very kind to advise me that if I want to go back to my native Philippines and stay there for a while without getting into trouble coming back here,I should have at least an uninterrupted 2 years & 6 mos residency.With that in mind,I plan to fly out by 2015 and I really intend to be out of US for 3 years.After reading your blog,my understanding about what the immigration officer told me totally changed.Honestly,I thought that with my US residency,travel in and out of the US at any time and even for lengthy period would be okay.Please advise me on the right thing for me to do.Thank you for your attention.☺

  21. Marc
    June 24, 2013

    Hello.. I am about to get a green card in a couple of months. Currently I live in Houston under an L1 VISA. I am a business owner and own a business in Monterrey, Mexico and also one in Houston. Monterrey is one hour flight away from Houston.

    Because of my business I travel constantly between both cities. Every two weeks I travel to Mexico typically leaving on a Friday coming back on a Monday. Every chance I get, I go back to Mexico to work on my Mexican business and also to see family there. It’s a bit stressful , but that is my situation. Usually my two kids accompany me.

    So basically, Spring Break , 3 months Summer Vacation, Thanksgiving week, and Christmas vacation in addition to going every two weeks I am in Mexico.

    So my questions is : Will this cause problem with my green card and/or my applying for Citizenship later on ? I am never gone continuously more than 3 months, but if you add it all up, I’m gone 6 months in a year, give or take 2 weeks.

    Thank you and best regards,


    P.D. As mentioned by kids go to school in the Houston. I also own my house in Houston, have drivers licence and pay taxes in the USA.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 1, 2013

      Dear Marc,

      Yes, I could see how your travel schedule could cause problems both in keeping the green card and in obtaining USA citizenship. Sorry, you sound nice but I don’t have time to list all the problems and all the solutions in this answer. Please consult with an immigration attorney for personalized service and don’t rely on free blogs for such an important issue.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  22. stephen ogwu
    June 15, 2013

    good sir my name is stephen am a permanent resident holder of us if i travel out of us for 5 months for business that would involve me buying goods in us which i would be selling abroad within 5months periods of time and spending the rest of the 7 months i usa and this would be a continous process every year is going to affect my citizenship and my staying in us. thanks await ur response god bless u sir

  23. Shayan
    May 25, 2013

    Dear Daniella

    Thanks for your useful website and replies.After i read all comments,I can not get a clear answer for my question.

    We are a family that live in the US expect my father and all of us get our Green Card in 2012.My father is in travel and he tries to comeback to the US before 5 mouth and also stay here for around a mouth.

    Can I apply for his citizenship after 5 years with this situation ?
    by the way,he fill tax form every year

    Best Regards

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 21, 2013

      Dear Shayan:

      Please hire an immigration attorney for your family and do not depend on free blogs, which only contain general information, for something so important. I know you are trying to save money, but there is a lot of information (that is not in your question) that the immigration attorney will need to ask to answer your questions. You sound nice and I am sorry I cannot help you.

      Kind regards,

      Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

  24. Berik
    May 15, 2013

    Dear Danielle,

    Thank you for your courtesy/free advices you give to LPRs.

    Here is me situation/case. I’m LPR (aka green card holder) from January 2010.
    From January 2010 to April 2010 I resided in NY state.

    In April 2010 I returned to country I was born in. In June 2011 I returned to USA (to California state).

    I was out of the US for 10 months in a row.

    In NY I worked and my employer payed/withheld all taxes from my pay check and I do NOT owe any taxes however I did NOT submit my tax return declaration for 2010 (Federal and State).

    I have been continously residing in California state since June 2011 and I have Tax returns for 2011 and 2012 (and will have for 2013, 2014). And I’m NOT planning to move to other State or the Country in the future.

    I’m full time student and work part time.

    I know I left the US for 10 months and didn’t file Tax Returns for 2010, however I’m planning to submit my TR for 2010 (I assume it is not late).

    What will you recommend:

    1. Wait till June 2016 (at that time I will have a proof of 5 years continous residency and Tax Returns for the last 5 years; 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015).


    2. I still have a chance to submit my N-400 in March 2015 (5 years and 2 months as LPR + Tax returns for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014) and become a US citizen??

    What is your recommendation?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 21, 2013

      Dear Berik:

      Please hire an immigration attorney for a legal opinion and do not depend on free blogs, which only contain general information, for something so important. I know you are trying to save money, but there is a lot of information (that is not in your question) that the immigration attorney will need to ask to answer your questions. You sound nice and I am sorry I cannot help you.

      Kind regards,

      Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

  25. Amar
    May 6, 2013

    I am a green card holder for 3 year planning to stay in USA fulfilling all the requirements to become a citizen. But my wife, who is also a green card holder, is planning to move permanently to India with the kids to stay with her parents. Would her and the kids stay out of USA affect my citizenship status?


  26. Dhruti
    April 28, 2013

    Hi, we have a question regarding meeting the physical residence requirements for my in-laws. They became green card holders on 10/23/2009, they went back to India on 10/22/2010 and came back after 10months and 5 days. as far as i know this did disrupt their continuous residence time. They returned back on 8/26/2011 and have been here since then.
    My question is that did their 30 month continuous residency started from 8/26/11? Does this mean that they can file their application 10/26/2014 since they would have met their 30 months continuous residency in the US?
    Also if during this this time period from 8/26/11 to 10/26/2014, if they take a 5 month trip to india, will thier continuous residency will be disrupted or not??


    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 21, 2013

      Dear Dhruti:

      Please hire an immigration attorney for your case and do not depend on free blogs, which only contain general information, for something so important. I know you are trying to save money, but there is a lot of information (that is not in your question) that the immigration attorney will need to ask to answer your questions. You sound nice and I am sorry I cannot help you.

      Kind regards,

      Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

  27. Shaheen
    April 22, 2013

    Hi Danielle,

    Thanks for your blog that has been helpful to many! My Mother became a permanent resident on October 2006. I, as a U Citizen sponsored her in USA. She was out of USA twice. First time, she spent out of USA for 11 months (returned to USA in January 2010) and 2nd time she spent out of USA just one day shy of 12 months (returned to US in September 2010). 2nd time, immigration officer warned her that if she wants to be a permanent resident, she can not spend time out of USA like this. Anyway, she’s been in USA since September 2010. She is 66-yr-old. My question is: Can she apply for US Citizenship now? She lives with us, she does not work, has no income. I support her all needs. Thank you.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 21, 2013

      Dear Shaheen:

      Please hire an immigration attorney for your mother and do not depend on free blogs, which only contain general information, for something so important. I know you are trying to save money, but there is a lot of information (that is not in your question) that the immigration attorney will need to ask to answer your questions.

      You sound nice and I am sorry I cannot help you.

      Kind regards,

      Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney

  28. Victoria
    March 12, 2013

    I was removed to do my residency to Mexico under suspicion of intent to live in the US of which I already have for 4 years of having my resident card. I have been married for 8 and we have 3 kids. On the application under the questions have you ever been removed excluded or deported I do not know which option to put. Can you please help me? Thank you

  29. petar
    March 3, 2013

    over all i have been mosto of the time in usa,but what if i have been out of US in 1 year first time for 5 five months ,then came back for one 1 ,and then out of us for 2 . is that mean that my continuous residence is disrupted ?thank you

  30. rockbuddha
    March 1, 2013

    I received my appointment for naturalization initial interview. I applied as I was married with a US citizen. We are divorced now, Do I need to bring his naturalization certificate to the interview?

  31. Ann Tran
    February 23, 2013

    Hi Danielle!
    My name is Ann. I have been a Green Card Holder since Aug 2010. I’m going to marry an American citizen in Jun 2013 (This is my first marriage). My question is: How many years can I apply to become a US citizen? 5 years from Aug 2010 (that’s Aug 2015); 3 years from Aug 2010 (that’s Aug 2013) or 3 years from Jun 2013 (that’s Jun 2016)?
    Thank you so so much.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 12, 2013

      Dear Ann,

      Great question. You will have two choices:

      1. Five years from date you became a green card holder (August 2010 + 5 years); or
      2. Three years from date you got married (June 2013 + 3 years).

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

    • kam
      June 9, 2013

      5 years from Aug 2010 or 3 years from 2013
      because you marry him in 2013 it is different ground

  32. Tanzim Faisal
    February 20, 2013

    Great blog. Really helpful. I have some questions about citizenship state residency. Do i have to live 1 year to become a resident? Also i lived for one month and then came back to my country. If i go back to usa within 6 months, nd again come back to my country after 7 days, will it disrupt my 5 year stay? Or will it be counted as 2 trips? And does the same apply about state residency?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 12, 2013

      Dear Tanzim:

      Sorry, I don’t know the “state” residency rules for the 50 american states. Each state has different rules.

      If a green card holder is outside the USA for less than 6 months their residency is not disrupted.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  33. cristinareyes12
    January 15, 2013

    I reentered United States in Dec. 22 2011, after staying in the Philippines for 3 years and 10 months. I was married to my U.S. Citizen husband for 26 years and 9 months. Got divorced from him on Sept. 2012. When i would be eligible for U.S. Citizenship. I red your article and stated that i could apply in 2 years and 1 day for someone who is married to a U.S. Citizen. But when i applied for my citizenship and was denied it 2011 i wastold that i will be eligibke in 4 years and 1 day. Can you please clarify. citizenship in 2011 ( I did nhat i iwas toldk to apply tozeligible

  34. Anonymous
    January 2, 2013

    Great info, I still have a question.
    Can I apply for citizenship even if I lived in one state for two months and the go back to the state I’ve live for more than 5 years and apply for citizenship as soon as I get there or I still have to wait for three months?
    I hope I get an answer, thank you very much
    best regards

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Anonymous:

      In order to answer your question there are some things I need to know about you that shouldn’t be shared on a public blog. Feel free to email me your question.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  35. Charles
    December 25, 2012

    Greetings and thank you for your fine wonderful assistance.
    Wife is a green card holder since 2000. I relocated in 2009 to work for airline overseas. The family joined me Jan 2010.
    Wife and kids never out of USA more than 8 months, maintained house, taxes all ties.
    Wife and kids relocated back to our home 7 months ago, I am now commuting, though not too often (distance)
    She would like to finally apply for Citizenship. Married to US passport holder, 3 kids USA, house and all ties except my job in overseas.
    Your advice is appreciated and I will keep reading the blog.
    Thanks you!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Charles,

      Thank you for your kind words, and for your message. I am not sure what your question is. Have she filled out the N400 yet? If she wants to email me the N400 with page 4 filled out, perhaps I can answer specific questions.

      Kind regards,
      Danielle Nelisse

  36. mitchell santos
    December 16, 2012

    thank you for your blog.. i hope you can help me with my situation.. i am married to a US citizen on april 2008 and i came in the US on may 2009 i was pregnant then and gave birth on sept 2009 and came back to my country on nov 2009-feb 2010 and oct 2010- feb 2011 and since then i stayed here in the USA. with regards with the 3 yr rule for marrying a US citizen on nov of 2011 i move back to another state and my husband stayed coz he works in a cannary. can i apply for citizenship ir should i just wait for the 5 year rule? and btw i am planning to go back to my countrt again nxt year for just a month. does it affect my applucation? hoping for your response.. thank you so much!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Mitchell:

      I am so sorry, but your question is unclear. I see you provided some dates, but I cannot tell exactly when you got your green card, or whether you have spent precisely 1/2 of 3 years inside the USA. It sounds like your husband may now live in a different state than you, but you didn’t mention whether you still visit each other, go on vacation, or do the things other married couples do when they have to be separated. Sorry I cannot help. You may email me and attach a copy of the N400 form with page 4 filled out if you still need an answer.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  37. Quyen Nguyen
    December 13, 2012

    my name is Quin and i have a question. I’m a marriage green card holder. me and my husband are California resident. this year, i transfer to study in arizona and i need to pay my tuition as a non arizona resident. I plan to pay tax for arizona this year and change my car registration to reduce my tuition while my husband still pay tax for california. my question is: if we do that, can we still consider as living together and can i apply for my citizenship in california after 3 years holding green card ( should be in june 2013).
    thank you

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Quin:

      Sorry, but from your description, I cannot tell if you are still married or not. You did not mention spending any time together.

      For example, some couples stay married, even while one of them is going to school in another state, by visiting each other every weekend. Other couples are really separated (they don’t spend weekends, or holidays, or vacations together) and are living in two different states. I cannot tell from your question which situation we have here.

      Either you are still married or not still married, for purposes of citizenship. If you are filing for citizenship and claiming you are still married, you should be prepared to provide proof of spending time together. I hope this helps.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  38. Farhan
    December 4, 2012

    Hi Danielle,
    Hope you are doing good. My mom became permanent resident in May 1997. after that she got white passport for 2 years to stay out of the US. and in 2006 we applied for her citizenship. She passed the test but in the interview they said you were short by 12 days or so because she was travelling every year for a month and sometime for six months or more but not more than 12 months. Now in 2012 we are applying again for her citizenship. She took one trip of more than 6 months but not more than 12 in last 5 years so they are asking for proof that she continued to live in US. She is my dependent since 2008 (four year) and they are asking for 5 year proof. We are also proving insurance certificate that she is a member since last 5 years. 4 year tax return in which she claimed as dependent by her son and insurance certificate of 5years would this proof be enough?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Farhan
      December 4, 2012

      She is not working before 2008 my sister was supporting her but but not as dependant in tax return.

  39. Bayron gudiel
    November 26, 2012

    Im now a 5 year permanent resident. I have been one since 2007.. I have visited my home country Guatemala.. Longest trip has been 4 months. I just recently took a trip 3 months ago and was out for 2 months. I have been back for almost 2 months now. Can i file for my citizenship now..? Im 21.. Have never been in trouble with the law. Have lived in my adress for 5 years now..have been in the US for over 30 months.. Can I?

  40. erman
    November 24, 2012

    Hello Danielle,

    I have read all question and your valuable comments. I have had a lot of information… I see some cases are similar to mine, but not quite same..

    I am a permanent resident. I have got my GC in March 2009. I have been staying in US since then.. I went my country 15-20 days every year for vacation. I will be eligible applying a citizenship in December 2013 ( 4 years, 9 months).

    I was hired a company in US last year and I have been working in this company almost 14 months now. They are planing to work on a project in Canada and send me as a supervisor . I don’t want to miss this opportunity, but in the mean time I have some doubts about it.

    If I go to Canada in February 2013 and start working there( I will have working visa in Canada) and coming back at least once in a month, would it disqualify me being a citizen of US? I know that staying out side of US more than six months would have some consequences, but I am not quite sure that if I go back and forth once or twice a month for weekend, Will it make any difference? I will have rental apartment and lease on me since my girl friend remain living in it. I will still be paid in US, and I will have bank accounts and so.

    Since I don’t want lose my chance of being a citizen of US, I am really doubtful and scared. Is that too risky? I hope there is kind of agreement between between Canada and US.

    Could you please share your opinions and experiences with me?

    Thank you so so much in advance

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Erman:

      Your situation is one where you shouldn’t rely on free blog advice. Please hire an immigration attorney to provide you with legal advice – your future is important. I think you can tell from my other answers that if I can answer your question I would.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  41. nacho
    November 24, 2012

    Hello every one. I has not file taxes or pay taxes in 2 years. Will thad afect my hopes of been a us citizen?

  42. Anonymous
    November 24, 2012

    Hello every one 🙂 my question is. I been legaly in the usa for 6 years, I has not file taxes in 2010 and 2011. If I file and pay, will tha afect if I aply for citizenship?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 4, 2013

      Dear Anonymous:

      A person can file USA taxes at any time, no matter how late, and it does not affect citizenship (unless you merely file the tax return and don’t pay the taxes you owe).

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  43. Armando
    November 12, 2012


    What a great forum you have ……This is my case since 1989 I have a Green Card in 1981 i came to el salvador and worh for american apparel comapnies , traveling every 6,7,8 months during the years…..Now is the first time that i am out and NOT enter the US in 17 months for family reasons, i got my inheritance ….in Nov last year …and been selling the farm …i was su posed to hac¿ve the deal close in june and I quit my Job with the US company , cause i am moving to the US , I have a job already in the US, I pay taxes every year in the US, have bank account, MY daughters are american and they attend private univesities in California….I pay chils support , plus help them with tuition for college, my mother is a US resident , Sister US Citizen…..And planning on going back to the US nov 21 ……What should i Do????? I am NOT planning on coming back to my country,,,,,,,,since i have been away from my girls so long to finance school and housing for them…BUT they have grown and soon will take there own path…so I want to spend the last them….Would they let me in???? do i have to go to court and prove them , that I am staying inn the US …..

    Please advise I am coocern….BUT have all documentation titles of the farms that i had inherit, ……Also have a letter of a church that i have been offer to be the co pastor of the church…….

    Thanks for all the help

    • immigrationworkvisa
      November 12, 2012

      Dear Armando:

      Green card holders who have been outside the USA for more than 12 months are welcome to file an DS-117 application and apply for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa at the U.S. Embassy. It will be up to the individual Consular Officer, after looking at the evidence proving why you were gone over 12 months, to decide whether you were gone due to circumstances beyond your control.

      Here is the link:

      As a friendly reminder, the airport officers know that even unexpired green cards are not valid for re-entry if the green card holder was outside the USA for more than 12 months.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

      • Armando
        November 12, 2012


        Thank You so much for your advise YOU have been so kind an professional….the so call Lawyers I call them today and they ALL want is money……One thing I did not tell YOU I am a Pastor and yOu are an angel and GOD will reward you for this at 101% ………Thnak you so much……God Bless You and Your Family , Business now and ever!!!!!!

  44. JJ
    November 10, 2012

    Good day,

    I have been living in the U.S. for a little over 3 years, married for 3 yrs and only obtain my permanent resident card couple months ago. My question is; Do I still have to wait go by the “3 yr rule”, which states that I have to be a L PR for 3 yrs before filing for citizenship? Or does being in my marriage for 3 yrs counts?

  45. Su
    November 9, 2012


    This is very useful information.

    I have a question regarding my n-400 application. I had filed my case in July 2012 and then went back to my country and came back again in August 2012. Recently , I just got the interview letter for Dec 10, 2012.
    1. I would like to know if I can travel to my country again right after interview?
    2. How long does it take between interview and oath ceremony?
    3. Do I need to get US passport before I travel abroad?

    Thank you so muck

  46. paola
    November 8, 2012

    Goo day. I came to usa dated march 17 of 2010. And stayed in united states untol october 17 of the same year. I applied for a re entry visa cause I had to continue my education cause I just a year remaining for college. I came back to united states after my college graduation on november 25 2011. I am planning ok goin back to have a vacation next year to the Philippines next year july for a month. Is it gonna affect my eligibility when I apply for citizenship? And if I dont go home when is the tentative date for me to apply for citiznship? Thank you

  47. Michael Nixon
    September 25, 2012

    I want to know where is the information that says “An applicant is not allowed to combine the “90 day early” rule with the “4 years + 1 day” rule”?
    The USCIS information – on the website – clearly states the option to file early but says nothing about not combining it with the “4 year and 1 day rule” (2 years and 1 day in my case).
    Thank you,


    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 1, 2012

      Dear Michael:

      Unfortunately there are a lot of rules that are not on the USCIS website. You can go to a law library for no charge and look it up. The name of the book to ask for is “Kurzbans Immigration Law Sourcebook.”

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  48. Jay
    September 25, 2012

    Dear Attorney,
    Thank you for your blog. I have been a Green Card Holder from 1996
    Year 2000 my father was sick and I was out of the country for 17 months. I didn’t have a entry permit but at the Los Angeles air port the officer advice me not to be out of the country over 365 days and permit me to enter sins then I got a job to promote American company in my home country and was out of USA 8 months of the year. In 2008 I was told at the airport I should not be out like that. So in 2009 I left the job and moved back to USA. Now I have been in the country for 3 years but my last 2 trips was over 6 months.

    For me to apply for Citizenship will the 17 months out of country in 2000 be an issue. Can I apply after been in US for 4 years and 1 day?
    Many Thanks and warm regards,

    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 1, 2012

      Dear Jay:

      Sorry, but your situation is too complex to answer in a free blog like this.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  49. Tania Greener
    September 12, 2012

    Please help. . .I have a question? I am a US Citizen and am married to an Afghan man. We were recently approved for our I130 and our case has been sent to NVC. If and when we are approved for my husband to go to US how long does he need to live in US before he will be allowed to travel from US back to AFG to see his family without jeapardizing his case…ultimately he will eventually want to become a US citizen? What are the rules for a new green card holder? Thanks in advance for your help.

  50. chester
    September 10, 2012

    hi good day.

    Im a green card holder, I received my greencard june 2006, but i went back to Philippines may 2007 w/ my permit to reenter w/ me. i came back to USA september 2008.

    can i apply for naturalization this october?

    • chester
      September 10, 2012

      thank you

  51. Khawar Syed Ekram
    September 5, 2012

    I am a green card holder, I got my green card in October 2010, after getting my green card I left USA and visited again next year Sep, 2011 and now this year August, 2012(all visits are with in a year).
    During this visit officer at the airport ask so many questions and said that you
    are not intended to live in US, I told him that I need 4-6 months to quite my job abroad and also my wife is expecting in few months but he end up with the remarks that if you continue to do this I will put you in front of immigration judge and he will decide.
    My question is if I leave US and returned with in 6 months, will it be a risk for me to leave US at this time?

    Please reply.

    Many thanks and regards.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      September 6, 2012

      Dear Syed:

      Yes. I highly recommend that you file an I-131 Re-Entry Permit application and provide your biometrics before you leave the USA again to help protect your green card.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  52. Nancy
    August 12, 2012

    Hi there,

    Thanks for the blog. I have a complicated situation. Since I got my permanent residency, i’ve been a university student abroad (both undergrad and grad). I continuously would come back to the US, but not for long periods of time, because of my schooling. I have a home, and my parents are in the US. Then I got married, and continued schooling in Canada, doing the same, returning to the US often, to the same address. I’m not sure what I need to do to prove that the United States continued to be my permanent home while I was abroad. I wasn’t working abroad…I was just a graduate student, so it’s been a while. I don’t even know how to find out if I fulfill the 30 months ! Someone told me to contact duty/borders to make sure exactly? Please help!!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 13, 2012

      Dear Nancy:

      Sorry, but your email is unclear concerning your question. I can’t even tell if you are presently living in the USA or Canada, and it is not clear what you are asking.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  53. Justin
    August 10, 2012

    I received my permanent U.S. residency in March 1993 and lived in the U.S. until January of 2008 when i moved back to Canada. I crossed the border in August 2009 to go for a visit. The border agent said that he had to revoke my residency because i had lived outside the States for more than 12 months. He asked me if i had any intention of
    moving back to the states to which i said that yes i will want to. He said that because i couldnt provide him with a specific date that i had no options. I know want to moved back to the states but need to know what steps i need to take to get my residency reinstated. I went for a visit just over a week ago and asked the customs agent at the border and he said that he could not find anything in their system saying that i had relinquished my residency. And that he doesnt believe i have to start over at the beginning and that there is probably just some paperwork that i need to fill out. I was hoping someone could help me figure out what steps i need to take.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 13, 2012

      Hi Justin –

      After a green card holder has been outside the USA more than 12 months, they are supposed to file an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa to “reinstate” their green card if they wish to re-enter the USA. In order to get an SB-1 Returning Resident visa approved, the green card holder has to file a form at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy with evidence that convinces a Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy that the green card holder was stuck outside the USA for reasons “beyond their control.” The instructions are on the U.S. Consulate websites.

      The border computer system shows that a green card holder still has a green card until the green card holder goes to the U.S. Consulate and officially surrenders their green card. The form and instructions for surrendering a green card are also on the U.S. Consulate websites. Because you have not officially surrendered your green card, the system will continue to show that you still have one, but it still doesn’t allow you to use it to re-enter the USA because you have been absent from the USA for more than 1 year.

      By the way, green card holders are required to file USA federal tax returns each year whether they live inside the USA or outside the USA, until such time as they officially surrender their green card to the U.S. Consulate/Embassy and file a special form with the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  54. Anonymous
    August 3, 2012

    I plan on being out of the US for 14months and will be getting a reentry permit. if I make two trips to at 5 month intervals and come to the US just for a week, is that good enough to keep the continuous stay requirement or does the law allow the immigration officer to question this and maybe say I broke continuous stay?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 3, 2012

      Dear Anonymous:

      If you return to the USA prior to being abroad for 6 months (and please don’t wait until 5 months and 20+ days to return!) you should not be accused of disrupting your continuous residency when you apply for citizenship.

      However, there is no “6 month rule” when it comes to whether the airport officers can question your “intent to live in the USA permanently,” which green card holders are supposed to be doing. Remember, most green card holders only go on vacation for 1-2 weeks per year, if not that. The airport officers don’t even get to go on vacation abroad, and here you are traipsing around the world. American immigration law allows american airport immigration officers to question any green card holders’ intent to reside in the USA permanently at any time, even if they have been outside the USA for less than 6 months and even if they have a Re-Entry Permit.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  55. petjelly
    August 2, 2012

    thank you for this detailed article. I was searching something for my mother naturalization and found this. I still have a question though.
    My Mother traveled to her country with my father and return to usa exactly on 180 day. This delay was due to my father illness. the doctors there were not even allowing him to travel.(My father died recently).

    Now we are going to apply for the citizenship. My question is, is it more than 180 days or exactly 180 days or more than 6 months. I am asking this because 6 months will be about 182 days. Is she eligible for the citizenship?


  56. Fahad
    August 2, 2012


    My mom stayed outside US for exactly 180 days but not even six months if you count the months (5/19 to 11/16). How does she answer Part 7 of N-400 where it asks “Did trip last 6 months or more”? She couldn’t come back here in time coz my dad was really sick when they were outside US and was admitted in the hospital. When they came here he was again got admitted in the hospital and later on he passed away. All this time she was with my dad taking care of him.
    I will really appreciate your help.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 3, 2012

      Dear Fahad:

      Sorry to hear about your father. All I can say is to do your best and put the dates in at to calculate the exact number of dates. Either she was outside the USA 180 days or she was not. Even if it is close, the immigration officer will recalculate it.

      As I explained in my blog article, a trip of 6 months or more can be excused, but it will be up to the immigration officer after reading the evidence that proves why the return to the USA was delayed. For anyone reading this answer, please don’t return to the USA so close to the 180 day mark – sometimes planes are delayed! Even one day can make a difference to the officer.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  57. snam
    July 30, 2012

    Very useful article! Thanks for writing this up. Wish my immigration attorney knew as much as you. So here is my question: I got my green card in Oct 2007 and I was working in the US until Dec 2008, at which point I was transfered to a foreign office for 2 years, and was on the foreign countries payroll. My attorney didnt tell me about the 6month issue with continuous stay (very unfortunate) and only told me I have to come back once a year. During my 2 years, I had two trips that were > 6months. When I applied for citizenship in February 2012, my case got rejected coz I terminated my work in the US (even though I was working for the same company in another country) and I had moved back to the US and worked for the same company since Oct 2010. I paid US taxes but didnt keep paying the rent for my apartment. I assume there was no way I could have gotten this approved? So I should wait till 4yr+1day since I came back to the US before applying? If my trips were less than 6 months, but I still worked outside the US, could they have still rejected me?

  58. Julia
    July 26, 2012

    “Hi Thanks for a great blog!!!!!
    I am eligible to file for US citizenship on Oct1st 2012 filling all the requirements for eligibility. My question is I have a temporary job abroad (have been abroad for 5 months*2 and came back), can I fly back and forth for fingerprinting, interview and oath or resign and then apply…”

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 27, 2012

      Dear Julia:

      It is very complicated to keep leaving the USA while applying for citizenship. It only takes 4-5 months – I highly recommend that you file your N400 during a time period when you are going to be inside the USA.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

      • Julia
        September 12, 2012

        Hi Danielle,
        Can I file N-400 being abroad if I fulfill all the prior requirements and have permanent residency in one state in US for 5 yrs.


  59. Mark
    June 27, 2012

    Hi Danielle

    I do realize that what I’m asking is not the same topic. I hope you can reply me with some idea of where I might stand in my situation.

    I got married to a US citizen on September 2000 in England. I moved to US on May 2001 and my daughter was born in July 2001. I got a 1 year work visa. Before work visa expired in 2002, I got my conditional permanent residency which lasted for 3 years and had my conditions removed on the year of 2005, at that point I was allowed to apply for citizenship, which I didn’t. How I’m regretting it now. I got my 10 year permanent residency. In late 2007, my ex-wife and I separated permanently. I lived in the US from May 2001 to March 2008.

    The main issue is from April 2008. I came back to England to visit my family only for 2 weeks. Unfortunately 2 weeks ended up being more than 4 years now which was beyond my control. I still have my out of date return ticket which is obviously useless. But I kept it. I have always had intentions to return to the US and still do as my daughter is over there. I am still in contact with my daughter. Did not know about being away for more than a year can ruin my chance to go back to the US as its classed as abandonment. Being away for 4 years is too long in their eyes. But I didn’t want to abandon my residency whatsoever. I was going to head back to the US on August this year.

    Another problem also, I haven’t filed taxes for the last 4 years and my driver’s license has expired. I haven’t kept an active bank account. Got divorced 2 years ago. Don’t have a US address anymore. Although I have been offered employment in 2 places where I use to live in the US.

    Have I lost the chance to go back to the US. Would greatly appreciate anything and thanking you for your time.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 27, 2012

      Dear Mark:

      The instructions on how to go to the U.S. Consulate to officially surrender your old green card and ask for a B-2 tourist visa or ESTA visa waiver tourist visa to visit the USA are on the U.S. Consulate websites. However, while there is no guarantee that the U.S. Consular Officer will approve your request for a B-2 or ESTA Tourist visa after you surrender your green card, in most cases they do.

      If you are going to try to come to the USA in August, you should start the process right away.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  60. delled
    June 20, 2012

    hi. i am a green card holder since 2009 june, married to an american citizen. i left usa in 2010 august and lived abroad. i did not apply for re-entry permit before i left. last week i came back to usa and i was permited to the country on my valid tourist visa. the officer never asked me about my resident status. how can i find out what is the status on my green card? on visa i need to leave in 6 month but we plan to stay longer due to my husbands job commitment. do you have a sugestion what shall I do?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 20, 2012

      Dear Adel:

      Gosh, what a mess. A person is not supposed to hold the status of a “temporary nonimmigrant tourist” and a “permanent immigrant” at the same time. I highly recommend that you pay to meet with an immigration attorney near you to give you legal advice.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  61. karen
    June 15, 2012

    Dear Amy,

    During 2011 I was absent from the U.S two times because I had been attending graduate school overseas. The first trip lasted 5 months and the second 5 1/2 months. Is this considereded a disruption of continous residency eventhough the trips were shorter than six months but a total greater than six in one year?

    Best regards,

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 16, 2012

      Who is Amy?

      • Anonymous
        March 7, 2013

        Hahaha this is so funny. The person who posts is Karen but signs her name Karime and calls you Amy 🙂 Btw, Danielle, you are awesome at what you are doing!

  62. kardeep
    June 15, 2012

    I would like to thank you for all your effort and time to answer as best as you can in this blog, you are very helpful. I also have a question
    actually i want to give you some additional information about me as i am little bit confused about my physical presence and continues residency ….i have taken 5 trips to india in last 5 years….i was aware that i cant not leave the usa more than 6 month so every time i came back with in 6 months like(174 days , 175 days sometimes 172 days etc .) ……reason behind these long stay was that i married there and wanted to live more with my hubby ……now since 1 and half years I am living in usa in usa so that i can apply for us citizenship.i always pay taxes on time
    i have been here in past 5 years about 945 days so i think i have fulfilled the physical presence in usa too..

    so my question is that will in this situation the officer can create any issue i mean about my long trips and less physical presence (i have fullfilled the required rule) … i still have to show them some proof ……..i have been living in usa with my dad and i have accounts here , i have driving licence and my credit is also in good position …..

    please advice so that i can prepare myself for the interview

    do i need a lawyer help in my case


  63. Joe
    June 15, 2012

    Dear Danielle
    I got my US green card through a company I worked at in the US. A couple months after getting my green card, I got laid off due to lack of new incoming work to the company. After that, I established my own company (a US based corporation). 2 years after maintaining my green card and staying in the US, my own company got a project which requires me to make 2 overseas trips a year each lasting 5 months. I have done this so far for 3 times, and I have not been questioned. This situation will continue for another year as the project will be completed in a year, meaning I will have to exit and re-enter for another 2-3 times. How much of a risk am I taking by doing this? Is it possible for them to take my greencard away although I have a company here and the nature of the business requires me to travel for these prolonged amounts of time? Any help regarding this issue will be highly appreciated. Best regards,

    • Joe
      June 15, 2012

      correction- so far I have done the 5 month long trip twice, and I am about to go back to the US for the third time in 2 weeks after being away for 4 months, and I am wondering how worried I should be.

  64. gudia
    June 14, 2012

    i got greencard in july 2012. i m planning to stay in america for one year and apply for license, ssn, get membership of some library , to do job……and after one year i m planning to do Phd from india (which is for 3years) what are all necessary precautions to take without risking my greencard. My dad is citizen of america (i got my greencard through him) . My mother is currently holding her greencard..please help me ..i read your ur blog its very .. i hope ur kind advice will help me too….thnkx

  65. micha
    May 27, 2012

    Hi Danielle,
    Thank you of doing this for public. Your advise is very helpful. I have questions abut my GC as well. I am a green card holder. Right now I live outside of US but fly back to US every 5 months and live there 1 month. I did that for 2 years. Now it is about time to submitting my application. I need find out more information either I still want to keep my GC or not.
    If I won’t submit the application now, I assume that my GC will be invalid in one year. My husband is doing the same as me but he will apply the citizenship next month. My question is:
    If in the future (might be another 3-5 years), I want to move back to USA, can my husband apply GC for me?

    Thank you so much

    • immigrationworkvisa
      June 1, 2012

      Dear Micha:

      Thank you for your kind words! Sorry, but no one can predict what the American immigration laws will be in 3-5 years.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  66. Joel Nunez
    April 29, 2012

    Dear Danielle,

    I was away for 22 months on a Reentry Permit. I had some personal commitments that I could not get out of. When I came back, I had no problems at the airport and was not referred to a secondary interview. I was also reemployed by my last employer on my 4th day back. I have religiously paid my U.S. taxes, lived on my savings while I was away. My questions are:

    1. Would the Reentry Permit counter the “away for more than a year” presumption?

    2. Also, does an immigration officer interviewing a naturalization applicant have the discretion to consider other factors in approving an application, so long as the 30 out of 60 months requirement is complied with, along with the other LPR criteria you mentioned?

    Thank you.


    • immigrationworkvisa
      May 2, 2012

      Dear Joel:

      The Immigration Officers are not allowed to excuse a 1+ year trip like they can a 6-12 month trip. Period. The law can be found on the website.

      Sorry, as pleased as an officer would be that you followed the rules and obtained a Re-Entry Permit before taking a trip abroad for 22 months, they are still not allowed to excuse a 1+ year trip for citizenship. You can keep checking the citizenship rules in case they change. If they change, I will update my blog article.

      I am glad you had no problems at the American airport upon your re-entry!

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  67. marco
    April 15, 2012

    I have been permanent resident since may 2009.In may 2010 I deployed to AFGHANISTAN as contractor in US military and came back TO US for vacation end of march 2011.Then I went in the middle of april and came back to US on 20 october 2011 for vacation.I am planning to apply for citizenship.Do my working days count as stay in US?Am I eligible to apply citizenship.

    Thank you for your help



  68. Sara
    April 12, 2012

    Hello and thank you so much for your very useful blog. I have a question regarding the amount of physical residency after re-entry permit. Should a re-entry permit holder person apply for citizenship after 30 months? By that I mean, is the physical residency is 30 months out of 4 year and 1 day? Or 2 year out of 4 years?

    Thank you very much,

  69. Eingel
    April 9, 2012

    Hi I’ve been reading your blogs and I was hoping you could help,I’ve been a resident since 2003, stayed in the until April of 2005 and went home to pursue my studies but before that I studied in the US got a job here too but I resigned before I went home,I keep coming back to the US between 2005 and 2008 and all together I took trips outside the US for a total of 5 of 6 months or more,was accepted back to the US on September 13, 2008 and has been here ever since,my green card will expire April of 2013 and I’m planning to renew it and apply for citizenship sept 13 2013,which is my 5 years continuous residency if I start counting from September 13, 2008.should I encounter any problems within those 3 yrs I was out of the country even though I’ve got my re- entry permit at that time

    • immigrationworkvisa
      April 11, 2012

      Dear Drew:

      If you had no trips of 6 months or more during the 5 year period that you want to use (2008 – 2013?), and you meet all of the other citizenship requirements you should be ok. However, your statement “I took trips outside the USA for a total of 5 or 6 months or more between 2005 and 2008” is vague, so it is hard for me to answer your question. Please fill out page 4 of the N400 using to get a more precise analysis of how many trips over 6 months you had during your 5 year period.

      Regrettably, having an approved Re-Entry Permit does not excuse a long absence for purposes of the residency requirements for citizenship.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

      • Eingel
        April 11, 2012

        April 2005 – oct 2005 out for 7mos
        Nov2005 – June 06 out for 7 mos
        June 2006 – April 2007 out for 10 mos
        April 2007 – dec 2007 out for 9 mos
        Jan 08- sept of 08 out for 9 mos

        And after that I’ve stayed here already ever since coming back in 2008 with a re entry permit,with no trips more than 18 days,

  70. carmen
    March 21, 2012

    hI Danielle,
    First of all I would like to thank you for all your effort and time to answer as best as you can in this blog, you are very kind, and helpful. I also have a question.

    I have been a LPR since Jan 2007 thru employment, I married my long time boyfriend in Japan, since we know he can’t come yet to america we have decided to stay in australia first since australia offers job for both of us plus we can be together. I have been goig back and forth to america I was out of USA for 8 mos, then came back to america and delivered my son since we want him to have amrican citizenship, and then left the country again for 9 mos so my son can spend time with my husband in australia, in nov 2010 we went back to america and stayed here ever since, I now have a job and is waiting for my husbands petition to be approved so we can all be together, I have been in america for more than 2.5 years and have been LPR for 5 yrs, however i am not sure if I should apply for citizenship now since I am not sure if my 8 mos and 9 mos away from usa would be considered as not having cntinuous residence. by the way I did file taxes for thise 5 years, kept us bank, 401k account, car, car insurance, i was also paying monthly the hospital for the expenses I had during labor and delivery of my son, I also kept a health insurance for my son. I did not have a home since I was living with my sister.I kept my professional registration while away,
    Thank you for your time and help.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 28, 2012

      Hi Carmen:

      Yes, if your 2 trips of 8 and 9 months were during the last 5 years, you have 2 trips that could be seen as having disrupted the continuity of residence in the USA. I re-wrote this blog article since you posted your comment, so you may want to re-read it. While your applying for USA citizenship and asking the officer to excuse 2 trips is a long shot, it is up to you whether to take the gamble of losing the government fee.

      Hopefully I made it more clear in my blog article that ANY trip over 6 months but less than 12 months is PRESUMED to disrupt the “continuity of residence” and it is up to the individual officer whether to excuse those trips or not based on the evidence that you present with the N-400. Please see my website page if you wish for me to review and critique your N-400 before you submit it.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  71. papakessy
    March 16, 2012

    My green card 5 years anniversary is 05/01/2012 , i filled for my naturalization on 02/02/2012, i have did the finger print. Is it possible to travel abroad before my interview date without jeopardizing my naturalization case.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 19, 2012

      Dear Papakessy:

      If a person who has an N400 pending takes a short trip (long weekend), it might be ok (1) if you can fly back immediately if the interview is scheduled while you are gone, and (2) if someone is carefully watching your mail for the interview or other notices.

      It is not that fact that you are briefly leaving that is the problem (brief trips abroad are allowed while the N400 is pending) — it is the thought that if the interview is scheduled and you don’t make it back in time, your case could be denied, closed, or delayed for about 6 months that bothers me.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  72. Rodrigo Fuentes
    March 14, 2012


    I appreciate the advice given on your blog and thank you for sharing it.

    My situation is as follows:

    I am applying for naturalization along with both my parents and younger brother (aged 19). We have been residents since 2004.

    While my parents and brother satisfy all naturalization requirements with no foreseeable complications, my case is more complicated.

    During the last 3 years I took 2 temporary teaching contracts abroad lasting 1 year each in Korea. I re-entered the U.S. several times making sure the trips didn’t last more than 6 consecutive months.

    -I filed taxes to the US for both of the years I was out. (I don’t owe any back taxes)
    -I was claimed as a dependent by my father on his tax return (I did not claim myself).
    -I live with my parents and depend on them right now.
    -I have kept bank accounts, a driver’s license and all credit cards with my parent’s home as primary residence during my time outside.

    What complications can I expect to encounter with the immigration officer on the time of the interview and how can I be prepared?

    Also, since I worked those two years in Korea, I was supplied temporary housing by my employer (of the same nature as the year long contract). Should I report those two tax homes as previous residences? And if I do, should I make the time that I resided in them overlap with my current residence?

    Thank you for any advice you can provide.



    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 15, 2012

      Dear Rodrigo:

      If, when you fill out the N-400 (, you check “no” every time to the question “did your trip last 6 momths or more?” then technically you did not disrupt the continuity of residence. Therefore you should be ok so long as you have been inside the USA more than 1/2 of the 5 years and for the 90 days prior to submitting the N400.

      I would not report the Korean addresses on the N400. Your American addresses are legally considered to be your permanent address even while you were temporarily in Korea and that is what they are requesting on the N400. in other words, your 5 year address history should only be American addresses, even during the times you were temporarily abroad.

      Think of it like this: If you are married and live with your wife in Dallas, Texas, then your permanent marital home is in Dallas, Texas even while you occasionally take a job in NYC, or if you are a truck driver driving all over the USA and home only monthly, or if you are a major athlete playing football all over the USA on national television. For all the time periods when you “temporarily” happen to be out of Dallas, your legal permanent address is still considered to be the marital home with your wife in Dallas.

      For others reading this answer, the airport immigration officers now have a highly sophisticated data base (the airlines report their passenger lists) and this strategy of coming back in for a few weeks every 5+ months doesn’t work anymore! Don’t even think about it! If you think you can pull it off, read the 562 comments after this blog article: where people complain about the airport officers that are questioning them for hours in secondary inspection (basically an airport detention center) after only 90 days abroad.

      Rodrigo, if you are very close to the 1/2 mark for being inside the USA, the complications you could encounter from the officer would be a request to prove your “ties to America.” To be safe, bring a GIANT folder of copies of your “ties to America” to the citizenship interview. The documents you listed in your comment are definitely not enough. There are more ideas of “ties to America” documents here:

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

      • Rodrigo Fuentes
        March 15, 2012

        Thank you for your reply, Danielle. It put a few of my doubts to rest.

        I will end up with 820 days on my application. of those about 700 were in Korea, the rest were for a study abroad that lasted a little over 3 months done through my US university and a couple of trips to Canada.

        I plan on gathering the following documents

        – proof the work was temporary (e.g. Finite Korean Visa, finite contract, the fact that under the contract they provide the return ticket)
        – taxes
        – credit card payments
        – remittance ( i sent my entire paycheck almost monthly to the US)
        – bank statements
        – car ownership and payments done to it during my time abroad.
        – proof of current job in the US (that i will start)

        What documents could I present to the officer that prove that I depend on my parents and wouldn’t have had anywhere to go if I indeed wanted to abandon residency? I am a Canadian citizen but don’t have a home in Canada.

        Also do the documents proving ties to the U.S. have to be solely for my period abroad, or can newly acquired ties help my case as well? (New job, etc.)

        Again, thank you for your advice.

        I want to bring my Fiancé into the country to begin our lives here. So I want to take all necessary precautions.

        • immigrationworkvisa
          March 16, 2012

          Dear Rodrigo:

          Your “ties to America” should extend over the entire 5 years (not just the time your were abroad). You are establishing that for 5 full years, even though you were abroad, your intention always was to be an American resident. That means 5 years of USA bank statements (quarterly is ok), 5 years of USA tax returns, etc. You still do not have enough in your list.

          It seems you are not taking the list seriously that I referred you to in my blog article. There are so many more documents that you could create (facebook page printout showing USA as residence, American library card, American driver’s license, photos in USA, receipts for things bought in America, etc.). Think “over the top” instead of “this is just enough to pass.” Come on, you can be more creative.

          You need to overwhelm the USCIS with documents proving your American presence if you want to win. You are an adult and need documents that show you are no longer a child dependent upon your parents. The officers are not impressed with dependency on parents, even if it is the norm in your culture – it is not the norm in American culture.

          If you are truly serious about winning your citizenship for your fiance, move to your own place so that you have a rental agreement, gas & electric bill, phone bill in your name – even if it is a tiny place or you have adult roommates who are not your parents.

          Regards, Danielle Nelisse

          • Rodrigo Fuentes
            March 16, 2012

            Thank you, Danielle.

            I truly appreciate your advice. I will take it to heart and gather as many documents as I can.

            The original plan was to save as much money as I could and move as soon as my fiancé got here. If it will help my case I will change those plans and aim for a month or two from now.

            Thank you again.


          • Rodrigo Fuentes
            April 20, 2012

            Hello again Danielle,

            I have taken your advice and am currently in the process of obtaining my own place before I file for citizenship. I am also compiling as much evidence as possible to prove my ties to the United States and have even gotten my friends and family involved in the project.

            I have a question , however, regarding my employment abroad. I have received conflicting information from my initial inquiries to immigration forums.
            Some people tell me that since I received employment abroad, my case could raise a red flag at the time of the interview and my current permanent resident status could be in jeopardy regardless of the limited nature of my contracts and temporariness of the visas administered to me. Honestly this interpretation has me a bit on edge.

            Again, They were 2 separate contracts lasting exactly 1 year each. I returned to the US several times within their spans, so none of the trips lasted more than 6 months (thus I would check “no” to the six month trip question for every trip). All together for the last 5 years, I have 34 months in the country, so I meet the physical presence requirement and have gone so far as to document every trip to unstamped entry ports (Canada) via EZ pass toll entries, credit card history and receipts.

            I appreciate any advice you have on this.

            Thank you,


            • immigrationworkvisa
              April 26, 2012

              Dear Rodrigo:

              I can see that you have moved beyond the realm of free blog legal advice and now you are seeking for the type of individualized legal advice. If you would like the quality, individualized, immigration legal advice that you seek, please pay for the services of an immigration attorney. None of us want the liability of giving you the wrong legal advice based on partial information. I’m sure you can understand.

              Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  73. Tita
    March 12, 2012

    Hi Dear Danielle,

    I have green card since April 2011.In August 2011(after 4 months) I left US for 3 months .In March because of some problems I must leave US again.I have been in Us totally 8 months up to now( two 4 months periods of time) in US since I have been permenant resident . Is there any problem if I go out again for 4 months.

    Thank you so much for your help.

  74. Anonymous
    March 12, 2012

    Hi Danielle,

    as an LPR, am I allowed to work abroad at all (i.e. for 3 months) ?

    I thought: if I maintain 183 days stay per year in USA, it would be OK.
    Am i right ?

    Will working abroad (and paying tax in USA) be an obstacle
    when applying for citizenship ? (I have GC since April 2009),

    Best regards,

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 15, 2012

      Dear Anonymous:

      Working abroad may be interpreted as a sign that you may not intend to reside in the USA permanently. The citizenship officers look at your entire history starting when you were granted a green card.

      So, if you lived in the USA for most of the 5 years, but worked for 1 three month period abroad during those 5 years, no, I don’t think it would be a problem for citizenship. But when you start adding a lot more months outside the USA (even if you were not working, but just vacationing) it doesn’t look good when you add in the fact that you worked abroad.

      I’m not trying to be vague – the officers have a lot of discretion during the citizenship interview. Each case is very different, so applying “bright line” rules is hard to do.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  75. Joel Nunez
    March 6, 2012

    I really have no question but I would like to commend you for your generosity. The information that you have on your blog and the thoroughness with which you answer all questions is remarkable.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for helping immigrants like me sort out our immigration and naturalization issues.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 6, 2012

      Thank you Joel! Your comment makes it all worth while!
      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  76. richard
    March 2, 2012

    Hi, i am trying to find out when my wife would be able to file for citzenship, she has been a legal permanent resident since 1979, since then has made 5 trips outside the United States, the first was for 30 days in 2004 the second and third were to her home in the philippines, one was for 348 days that was to help her brother who suffered a very bad stroke and the second for 360 days for about the same problem but this time the doctors had found him to have stage 3 prostate cancer, her forth trip july 15 2010 was for 128 days, and the fifth trip on dec 21 2010 was for 25 days and that trip was to bring her sisters remains back to the philippines for burial she returned on jan 15 2011 and has been in the united states since. Her year and a half physical presance should be met on the 15th of july 2012, thank you so much for the help.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      March 5, 2012

      Dear Richard:

      I am not sure what your question is, but thanks for commenting. To double check your math calculations, it is useful to fill out page 4 of the N400 form ( and use to calculate the number of days outside the USA.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  77. Karen Rodriguez
    February 21, 2012

    Hi Daniell,
    Your website is very helpful and I enjoy reading it but I have a question. Ok, by birth I am a citizen of El Salvador, I migrated to the United States at age six, I am 21 now, and I got my greencard on February 2009. I w. ant to apply for US citizenship but I still have 2 years left before I can do that. The big dilemma I have is that, I want to study abroad in France. I want to attend university in France to study Art. I would do this a year from one. Additionaly, I would be in France for 3 years but I would come home on breaks, summer and the holidays to not jepordize my chances. My question is, can I study abroad without running the risk of loosing my greencard? I read that in order to apply for US citizenship via naturalization, I would need to be physically present for 1/2 of the five years and I am planning to study abroad a year from now so I would have been physically present 4 out of those 5 years. What would you advise, or should I just wait the full 5 years, become a citizen and then study abroad? I don’t know what to do. Thank you for your help!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      February 21, 2012

      Dear Karen:

      It’s up to you and I know it is a tough decision. If you study abroad now, you may delay getting your USA citizenship. I cannot decide for you. As a friendly reminder, the immigration rules in the USA can change at any time.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  78. Mark Neufeld
    February 20, 2012

    I’m an American living in Japan who has been married to a Japanese woman for 24 years. My wife and I lived in the States for two years about 20 years ago, and at that time she had a green card and got a Social Security number. We are planning to move back to the States this summer, and I wonder if we have to file an I-130 and go through the entire process again. I’ve read that the I-130 never expires once it’s been approved.

    Thanks for the help!

    • immigrationworkvisa
      February 21, 2012

      Dear Mark:

      Sorry, but yes you will need to go through the whole process again. The I-130 Petition was already used. An approved I-130 Petition that has already been used to obtain residency cannot be used a second time. 8 CFR §204.2(h)(2).

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  79. Kay
    February 13, 2012

    Hi Daniell!

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and reply to this question.

    I am 24 and would have physically lived in the US on a green card for at least 5 years by Dec 2012. I plan on being able to apply for my citizenship at that point. However, in my first year here on my green card, I had to travel back to my home country in order to be able to finish up my college education. Owing to the issue that my final year exams got extended, I ended up staying abroad for a total of 6 months and 6 days as opposed to the planed 5.5 months.

    My question is, how rigid is the USCIS about this 6 months rule. Do I still qualify to apply for my citizenship at the end of this year, or should I just wait an extra 6 months and then apply? I would like to be able to get my citizenship as early as possible. Please advice.

    Thank you.


  80. karol
    February 3, 2012

    Hi tom, I have a question about my cousin’s wife who came to USA in 2008 as a refugee from Middle east. after 2 years of staying here they got Green card and about 4 months later she and her 2 kids went back to middle east for visit. She decided she didnt want to come back to US after 1 year. We all told her to return but she didnt want to. Now 2 years is passed and her husband is there and wants to bring the family back, they think its easy to just get tickets and fly to US, and nobody is going to stop them, because everybody is doing it. whats gonna happend to them when they get to US airport and 2 years is passed from green card date. Also they have nothing here, no appartment or car or bank account.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      February 5, 2012

      Dear Karol:

      Who is Tom?

      The airport officers have the choice to a) put them on a plane back home; b) put them in immigration detention (jail) awaiting a court date; c) let them into the USA without being in detention and schedule them for a court date. The rules clearly state that if a person is out of the USA more than 1 year, their green card is no longer valid for re-entry, even if unexpired.

      Regards, Danielle NElisse

  81. D
    January 31, 2012

    Hi I am married to a Naturalized Citizen and I have a Conditional Permanent Residence which is dated 10/19/2009. I went back home to my country last 08/2010 and return to the US 11/2010. Again I went home 12/2010 and went back to the US 05/2011. Again went back home 7/2011 and return back in the US 10/2011. My question is did i already disrupted/ broken my continuous residence? Or i can apply for N-400 90days prior for my 3 years(10/19/2012) as a permanent Residence because my better half is a naturalized Citizen i can file for form N-400 in 3 years. thanks

    • immigrationworkvisa
      February 5, 2012

      Dear Dwin97:
      Your spouse’s naturalization does not change the rules for your naturalization in terms of the rules concerning disruption of continuous residence. Sorry, but I don’t have time to add up the number of days you were in/out of the USA to answer your questions.

      Regards, Danielle Nelisse

  82. chan
    January 18, 2012

    I want my wife and kids stay in India for kids study and I will commute from USA to India once or twice a year to maintain my GC and family GC. Family will visit me during summer vacation of Indian Schools. Please let me know this is an option to maintain GC and then be avle to apply for Citizenship after 5 years?

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 18, 2012

      Dear Chan,

      Sorry, but it sounds like it will be very difficult to keep your green card and obtain USA citizenship using this strategy. For USA citizenship, you have to physically reside in the USA at least 1/2 of the five years.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  83. Carmel
    January 14, 2012

    Hi Danielle,

    I got my LPR July 2010.
    After being away from my family for 2 years, I decided to visit my family in the Philippines with my US born citizen husband. We went to Thailand for a month, a few months visiting Philippines, a week vacation in Hong Kong for my fathers bday, then back to the Philippines. I wanted to return before 180 had passed but ended up staying out of the US 8 1/2 months. My mother who is an attorney was receiving death threats due to her standing up to the corrupt city government, this caused me to delay returning as I feared for her life and didn’t want to leave until she was safe. Ultimately, I had to return to my small traveling festival business to join my husband who had reluctantly left the Philippines 1 month before I returned.

    Departed US Nov 24, 2010-
    Returned US Aug 3, 2011 (husband July 2, 2011)

    Now we are staying in the States til I apply for naturalization Aug 1, 2013.

    We have kept our residence with my husbands mother since 2009 and kept frequent contact via Skype with his family in the States while abroad. Neither of us earned while abroad (have the dwindled bank statements to prove it). Also we kept our seasonal small business active though we didn’t generate revenue while away. We have our bona fides from our various trips while abroad and can document the public lawsuit battle my mother was spearheading against the local governmental graft case and can get signed affidavits regarding the threats. We still have our seasonal small business and file taxes accordingly.

    My questions pertain to how best to go about proving no disruption to my continuous residency requirement come the N-400 application and during the interview. (considering I stayed abroad over 180 but less than 360)

    Also can you steer me to some good case example online sites, if possible.

    Thank you for your help! 🙂

    • immigrationworkvisa
      January 14, 2012

      Dear Carmel:

      The best way to prove that you did not disrupt your USA residency while you were abroad 8.5 months is to hire an immigration attorney to help you prepare your evidence of same. It would take a few hours for me to explain all of the naturalization laws to you and review your entire history.

      If you don’t want to spend the money on an immigration attorney for your entire N400 case (usually $2,500 USD), it might be worth it to at least hire an immigration attorney (generally $250 – $350 USD) to review your N400 application package before submitting it to the government to critique it and tell you what is wrong so that you don’t waste your filing fees on a losing application.

      Sorry, there are no free case examples that I know that are online. The reason you are having trouble finding case examples is that everyone’s case is different. If I published information about one of my winning naturalization cases, people might follow it when it doesn’t fit their situation and be denied, and I wouldn’t want that.

      A second way to go would be to go to a nonprofit immigration clinic – they usually charge a lot less than private immigration attorneys and they are in every major USA city.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  84. yana
    January 11, 2012

    Hello. I have had my greencard for 5 years now. I got a job with a US company in the US (Philadelphia, PA) 5 years ago. 18 month ago i was moved to the UK for work by my company (i still work for the same US company but i have a temporary work visa in the UK). i am going back to the US every 4 month; i have never been outside of the country for longer then 5 month. I am now staying in the UK since i work here but i want to file for my US citizenship. I have a permanent US address, active bank account and credit card. I report my income in the UK to IRS in US. I have every intention to work and live in US but my company temporarily moved me to the UK. Since i have to work in the UK (for a US company) i am wondering if i can file my N-400 application from the UK? Also, would it matter that i am not physically present in the US for 3 month before filling N-400, because i have to maintain my employment in the UK? And once i file N-400, do i have to remain in the US after the application was filed, until my interview?

    Many thanks!

  85. Anonymous
    November 14, 2011

    Just came back from the Philippines. Stayed there for 6 months. I am a green card holder for almost 6 years now. Will that have any affect when I file for citizenship? Can I file right away? What if we move to another State while my citizenship is in process? Please help.

    • immigrationworkvisa
      December 2, 2011

      Hi – If you stayed abroad for 180 days or more, yes it will have an affect when you file for citizenship. Please read my blog article and the instructions to the N400 carefully. If you move to another state while your citizenship is in process, the USCIS will transfer your case.

      Regards, Danielle

  86. amy
    October 12, 2011

    i am green card holder for 4 yrs in nov.. and getting married in canada this year.. my question is, is there possible to apply him any visa to get here in usa??

    • immigrationworkvisa
      October 16, 2011

      Dear Amy:

      If he’d like to try to get a temporary visa prior to the marriage, the list is here:

      If he’d like to try to get a permanent visa after the marriage, you can apply for a green card for him by filing the K-3 visa application. In general, after he is married, the U.S. Consulate will not want to grant him a temporary visa because they assume he will want to get a green card and stay.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  87. Anonymous
    August 17, 2011

    I am a green card holder for 5 years and I took two trips outside of the US. During the first trip, I was out for 3 months and on the second trip I was out for 6 months and i just got back to the U.S and applied for naturalization. How long do you think would take me to get my citizenship?


    • immigrationworkvisa
      August 18, 2011

      Dear Anonymous:

      In most of the states it is taking 4-6 months for the N400 to be processed.

      Kind regards, Danielle Nelisse

  88. Jena
    July 3, 2011

    I am a green card holder . I have been living in USA for the last 7 years and become green card holder through my family . Recently I got married to an australian citizen is Australia and at present I am visiting him . I will go back to USA in between 6 months time to keep my green card steady . I was living in USA for 4 and half years as a green card holder and I will become eligible to apply for citizenship on 20 th March 2012 . My question is

    Do I need to be physically present in USA for 3 months prior to apply for citizenship or I can come to USA just a week before my eligibilty date ( i.e a week before 20 th of march 2012 )

    Me and my husband is thinking to live in Australia for few years then go back to USA so should I wait to process spouse visa in australia untill I get my US citizenship ?

    Thankyou so very much ..

    • immigrationworkvisa
      July 5, 2011

      Dear Jena:

      You are going to have to decide whether to stay in America (even if you are separated from your husband) and get your USA citizenship or live in Australia and give up your green card entirely. Yes, you need to be physically present in the USA for 3 months prior to submitting your application.

      Regards, Danielle

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