I was born in Brazil 1978.
My mother born in the US in 10/16/1952, also to US Citizens (Deceased grandparents, Baptist Church Ministers overseas, difficult to prove mother's 10 years physical presence in US per travel).
I was brought to US in 1984 was given a green card, however did not reside in US after 1987. Family went back to fathers country.
Father died 1995. Mother started work in US embassy and died 2002.
Returned to US in 2004 and was able to renew my green card. Showed foreign passport (tourist visa), was advised to complete I-90. Approved.
In 2009 submitted N-400 and was denied in 2011 by USCIS saying that I-90 was approved in error. Officer let me keep GC, did not place me in removal proceedings. GC expires 12/31/2015.
No criminal record, DUI, paid taxes, own a home.
It would appear that you abandoned your residence in when you departed in 1987 and did not return until 2004. It is unclear from your facts, however, whether you were admitted in 2004 using your visitor's visa or as a returning resident. Likewise, if you considered yourself to be a resident why did you apply for a visitor's visa? The two are mutually inconsistent.
While we don't know all the facts in detail, this case would very well turn on how you were admitted to the United States when you returned in 2004. If you were admitted as a resident, then the abandonment issue would not be relevant because the decision is made by CBP, not USCIS. The applicable regulations provide that you can apply for naturalization after accruing 4 years and 1 day of continuous residence after having broken the continuity of your residence by being outside the U.S. for more than 1 year.
Naturalization, while seeming simple on its face, is one of the most complicated facets of immigration law You need to consult with an immigration attorney who has experience litiigating naturalization cases. The attorney needs to review the denial of your application for naturalization and administration appeal in conjunction with learning the full and complete facts of your case. Only then can a determination be made as to whether you can become an American Citizen.
You should consider yourself fortunate not to have been placed in removal proceedings. I can think of no good argument why the officer was incorrect in finding that your I-90 was approved in error. It seems clear that your parents abandoned their U.S. residency in 1987 and since you were a minor, their intent is attributed to you. You should start looking for a way to apply for permanent residency since it is quite possible that your card will not be renewed in 2015 for exactly this reason.
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