I had my US green card interview back on May 18 2010 through marring a citizen. I know I can apply for citizenship 90 days prior to May 18, 2013. However on May 1st of 2013 I need to leave the US for about 6-8 months due to personal reasons. Can I still apply for US citizenship even though I would not be here at that time? I would send the papers in March. I would still be a resident of the US and I would come back for the interview at any given time they would ask me to. Also one more question is that during those 3 years I had my green card I left on vacation out of the country for the total of a month and a half. Should I subtract the time I was out of the country from the 3 years? Please let me know. Thank you!
Yes, you may travel. However, depending on how quickly you are naturalized, you may distrupt your 3-year “continuous residence” requirement. That requirement extends until the moment you become a citizen. The Code of Federal Regulations clearly sets forth eligibility criteria for naturalization, including that the resident alien “has resided continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of admission to citizenship. See 8 CFR PART 316.2(6). In addition, keep in mind that you will be called for fingerprinting in anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after filing. (Thus, it is not just your interview and oath ceremony that would require you to return). You will subsequently be scheduled for your interview, usually by 3 months after filing. The interview notice will come at least 2 weeks in advance of the interview. Under no circumstances can you abandon your permanent residence in the USA while your naturalization application is pending.
As to your second question, if your only time out of the country was a month and a half, you would meet the 3 year continuous residence requirement and the 18 month physical presence requirement and would are still eligible to naturalize.
However, I would strongly recommend that you contact an immigration lawyer, whether myself or one of my colleagues. There is much more to applying for an immigration benefit than completing forms. It is not an infrequent occurrence for a naturalization application to become complicated for a reason unbeknownst to the applicant at the time of filing. If you appreciate the time spent preparing this answer, kindly consider marking it BEST ANSWER or HELPFUL. Good luck to you.
Dean P. Murray
The Murray Law Firm
560 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
You should consult with an immigration attorney. Regarding your last question, you do not need to subtract the 1.5 month vacation from your 3-year total time.
If you plan to be gone for 6-8 months, then you should apply for a re-entry permit NOW so that you will have a better chance of avoiding problems upon your return to the United States after your travel.
More importantly, you should AVOID having one solid trip of 6 months or more, because if you do, that will trigger USCIS to inquire about whether your trip has interrupted the continuous residency requirement for naturalization.
At any rate, if you file your naturalization application, perhaps in March 2013, then you will need to be present in the United States for biometrics (fingerprinting). Then of course you will need to be present for your naturalization interview and testing.
You must also take steps to ensure that you maintain ties to the United States during your time away. Continuing ownership of property, payment of taxes, close relatives remaining in the United States, and continuing employment in the United States all will help to convince USCIS that you have not interrupted your continuous residence requirement.
You really should discuss all of these issues with an experienced immigration attorney.
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