Indeed, lawful permanent residents in the United States must pay attention when they travel abroad, as the time spent in other countries may affect one’s eligibility for naturalization. 

When filing Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization), the applicant must be aware that excessive travel abroad may negatively affect his/her eligibility, such as spending a year outside of the United States or accumulating several trips over the period that precedes one admission as a US citizen. 

Can I Travel While My N-400 is Pending? – Taking a Closer Look  

Continuous Residence Requirement  

Lawful permanent residents applying for US citizenship must prove they have maintained residence within the United States for a specified period. Generally, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires at least five years of continuous residence for most applicants. 

Still, applicants filing as permanent residents married to US citizens may apply after three years of continuous residence in the country. Military applicants under specific circumstances may be eligible to waive this requirement, so make sure to consult with an expert immigration lawyer. 

Ultimately, the continuous residence requirement serves to demonstrate that the applicant is well-integrated with the American community and intends to say in the United States long term. 

When applying for naturalization, applicants must keep in mind that: 

  • Traveling abroad for less than six months will not affect their continuous residence 
  • Traveling abroad for six to twelve months will likely disrupt their continuous residence 
  • Staying abroad for twelve months or more will surely disrupt their continuous residence  

While Form N-400 is processed, USCIS officials will examine the applicant’s trips taken throughout the five tears preceding the application. Hence, no applicant can travel multiple times and then apply for naturalization if the total calculated time exceeds the threshold established by USCIS. 

Physical Presence Requirement  

Additionally, applicants pursuing naturalization in the United States must have been physically present within the country for a specified period established by USCIS. 

Unlike continuous residence, physical presence is a cumulative requirement. Accordingly, applicants must combine each day inside the United States. If the applicant spent more time abroad than within the country, it would likely raise red flags with USCIS. 

Immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400, lawful permanent residents must have 30 months of physical presence over the five years required. This requirement is reduced to 18 months over a three-year period if the applicant is a lawful permanent resident due to being married to a US citizen. 

Similar to other requirements, this aspect may be waived in specific situations wherein the applicant has served the US government, so make sure to have your case assessed by consulting with an expert immigration attorney. 

Traveling as a Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States – Attention to Detail  

As provided by US immigration law, green card holders are free to travel abroad and re-enter the United States. However, extensive travel may affect one’s permanent resident status, as it raises concerns whether the United States is actually the applicant’s true home.  

Ultimately, permanent residents should not spend more than six months outside the United States. Excessive time spent abroad may not only affect one’s eligibility for naturalization but also result in abandonment of permanent resident status. 

Do You Want to File Form N-400 and Become a US Citizen? – Immediately Consult with an Expert Immigration Attorney  

Becoming a US citizen may be overwhelming if you do not have a strategic approach. Waste no time – call Attorney Romy B. Jurado today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.