This guide is intended to explain the continuous residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization purposes.
You may qualify for naturalization if one of the following requirements is met:
You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years;
You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces;
Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
More specifically, applicants are required to show that they have:
Resided continuously in the U.S. for five years before applying, (see legal basis), or
Resided continuously in the U.S. for three years in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens.
"Continuous residence" means that the applicant has maintained residence within the United States for the required period depending on the basis for eligibility.
Absences of more than six months but less than one year may disrupt an applicant's continuous residence unless the applicant can prove otherwise.
Applicants are required to show that they were:
Physically present in the U.S. for thirty months within the five year period before applying, or
Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months within the three year period.
In addition, applicants are required to show they have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of Form N-400 where the applicant has residency.
USCIS allows for exceptions to the continuous residence requirement for the following applicants:
The United States government, including the Military
Contractors of the United States government
A recognized American institution of research (List of Recognized American Institutions of Research and Other Recognized Organizations (PDF, 104 KB))
A public international organization
An organization designated under the International Immunities Act
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