Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.
My father has been a U.S. permanent resident since 1997. About 9 years ago he took a trip and ended up staying abroad for 4 years before returning to the U.S. He came back to the U.S. on his green card and has remained in the U.S. since then. He is planning to apply for citizenship status but worried about his 4 year absence from the US in the earlier part of his status. Should he be worried about this gap in resident status?
IMMIGRATION ANSWER MAN:
One of the requirements for applying for U.S. citizenship (or naturalization) is maintaining U.S. permanent residence for a continuous period of 5 years prior to filing for naturalization (3 years if filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen).
Traveling abroad for a trip that lasts more than 6 months creates a rebuttable presumption that the foreign national was not maintaining their continuous U.S. permanent residence. This presumption can be overcome by showing the naturalization officer that the foreign national continued to maintain a U.S. residence despite the 6 month long trip.
However, a trip abroad that lasts longer than a year will cause an automatic break in continuous U.S. residence. This makes the foreign national ineligible for naturalization. When the person returns to the U.S., their continuous permanent residence will begin again from the day they reentered the U.S. on their green card. However, they are not required to accrue another 5 years of continuous permanent residence. Rather they only need to accrue 4 years and a day of continuous permanent residence to be eligible again for naturalization.
There is an exception to this rule. Some green card holders are eligible to file an N-470 which will allow them to maintain their continuous U.S. permanent residence despite their trip abroad of more than one year.
So since your father has been continuously maintaining his U.S. permanent residence for more than 4 years and a day since he returned from his trip, the fact that he was abroad for more than a year should not make him ineligible for naturalization.
P.S. Readers should be aware that long trips abroad of more than one year can result in a determination that the foreign national has abandoned their U.S. permanent residence resulting in the foreign national not being allowed to return to the U.S. on their green card. U.S. permanent residents are cautioned to consult with an immigration law attorney prior to any trip abroad that is expected to last more than one year, and it is recommended that they obtain a reentry permit.
Visit my blog, The Immigration Answer Man at www.immigrationanswerman.com
Join me on Facebook at http://bit.ly/3iM38W
Connect with me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/arisauer
Connect with me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/VisaLawAnswers
Ari Sauer is an attorney with Siskind Susser, PC. For Ari’s full bio, visit http://www.visalaw.com/ari.html. You can schedule a consultation with Ari or with one of Siskind Susser’s other attorneys by calling 1-800-343-4890 or 901-682-6455.
* On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer before acting on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states fo New York and New Jersey. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed.