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Do I need to be in the us to apply for citizenship?

Brooklyn, NY |

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!

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer

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
T: (201)875-2600
F: (201)549-8700

Mr. Murray's response is NOT legal advice and does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT rely on this response. Mr. Murray's response was generated without conducting a full inquiry as would occur during a face to face attorney-client consultation. It is likely that the response above may be made less accurate, or become entirely inaccurate, as you, i.e. the questioner, disclose additional facts that should only be discussed during a private consultation with an attorney. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state (or, in the case of immigration law, and attorney in ANY state), whereupon all relevant facts will be discussed. All responses posted by Mr. Murray on are intended as general information for the education of the public, and not for any specific individual.



You said "In addition, keep in mind that you will be called for fingerprinting in anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks after filing" Is it 2-6 weeks after I file 90 days before May 18th??? or is it 2-6 weeks after May 18th when I will be here 3 years?



and thank you so much for your quick and very informative answer!

Dean P Murray

Dean P Murray


After filing.


if you will be out of the country for 6-8 months, you are breaking your residence for citizenship purposes. make sure to get a re-entry permit before you travel and consider an in person consultation with an experienced attorney

This is not legal advice and a client attorney relationship is not created. For a free consultation call (718)234-5588.


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.

(734) 369-3131. This communication does not establish and attorney-client relationship with the Law Office of Michael Carlin PLLC or any individual member of the office. Confidential information should not be sent through this form.


You must be present in the US when you apply for naturalization.

(213) 394-4554 x0 Mr. Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) with over 35 years of immigration experience. His response to your question is general in nature, as not all the facts are known to him. You should retain an attorney experienced in immigration law to review all the facts in your case in order to receive advice specific to your case. Mr. Shusterman's statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship.