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3 month state residency requirement?

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Hi All,

I am hoping to mail my submission for citizenship on Nov 15th 2015, as this is 90 days before my 5 year GC anniversary in Feb 15 2016.

The complication is that we are moving interstate in the near future and the 3 month state residency requirement could be a spanner in the works for my aggressive "as soon as possible" type of application. As well as a desire to do some international travel before settling down in our soon-to-be new home.

I haven't been able to find much info on this topic, and some of the other forum answers that touch on this seem to be conflicting. I am aware that the worst case scenario is only pushing my application back 3 months, but judging by the current processing times it seems if this happens I would really be at risk of missing a chance to vote in the 2016 election, which would be a bummer to miss out on that opportunity.

If I submitted a change of address notification (my in-laws address where we will be temporarily staying until we get settled into our as yet found new apartment) by August 17th and then went overseas for a month in September on vacation, would this be enough to satisfy the residency requirement in time for a November 15th application mailing? We plan to rent our own apartment when we return in October and file another change of address notification then. We would then have a lease agreement and so on as proof.

We will have all our mail, bills, banking details and so on directed to our first new address, and my in-laws can write a support letter saying we moved in with them in August before we found our own place later in October. I am just not sure if this is enough or allowed considering the overseas vacation?

As I say, there is conflicting info out there. Some say the 3 months is more about giving the new field office time to receive my transferred files and less about any sort of "physical presence" in that state, and overseas travel is totally fine during this period. The actual USCIS wording (below) indicates that proof of having resided in state is required. I do meet the main physical presence in country requirement, and won't travel after I have filed my application in November of course.

Any guidance you can provide would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance.

USCIS wording below:

Physical Presence

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 (see legal basis)
  • Physically present in the U.S. for eighteen months within the three year period before applying in the case of qualified spouses of U.S. citizens (see legal basis)

In addition, applicants are required to show they have resided for at least three months immediately preceding the filing of Form N-400 in the USCIS district or state where the applicant claims to have residency (See 8 CFR §316.2(a)(5) & §319.1(a)(5)).


E3 visa - Issued 06/04/2008, Ottawa, Canada
E3 status - Renewed 02/26/2010, LAX, USA
Married (Pennsylvania) - 08/21/2010
i-130/i-485 Application sent - 10/13/2010
EAD document production notice - 01/06/11
Interview letter arrived - 01/13/2011
EAD card arrived - 01/14/2011
Interview! - 02/15/2011 9:45am. APPROVED!
Divorce decree - 08/24/2012
Filed for removal of conditions (waiver) i-751 - 10/22/12
Walk in Biometrics - 11/02/12
Service request (outside of processing timelines) - 06/21/13
i-751 Touched - 07/03/13
ROC i-751 Approval received - 07/08/13
Card production - 07/19/13
10 year card arrived - 07/25/13
N-400 Citizenship application sent - 12/08/2015

Interview - 05/25/2016

Oath Ceremony - 5/25/2016
US CITIZEN!

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I also found this USCIS definition of state residency and section 5 talks about overseas travel (below). If I am reading this right, then it does seem like an overseas vacation is allowed as long as I return to my new state? I won't have an apartment in my old state anymore etc. Then my only concern is how best to prove my residency with my in-laws?

(5) Residence during absences of less than one year.

(i) An applicant's residence during any absence of less than one year shall continue to be the State or Service district where the applicant last resided at the time of the applicant's departure abroad.

(ii) Return to the United States. If, upon returning to the United States, an applicant returns to the State or Service district where the applicant last resided, the applicant will have complied with the continuous residence requirement specified in § 316.2(a)(5) when at least three months have elapsed, including any part of the applicant's absence, from the date on which the applicant first established that residence. If the applicant establishes residence in a State or Service district other than the one in which he or she last resided, the applicant must complete three months at that new residence to be eligible for naturalization.

E3 visa - Issued 06/04/2008, Ottawa, Canada
E3 status - Renewed 02/26/2010, LAX, USA
Married (Pennsylvania) - 08/21/2010
i-130/i-485 Application sent - 10/13/2010
EAD document production notice - 01/06/11
Interview letter arrived - 01/13/2011
EAD card arrived - 01/14/2011
Interview! - 02/15/2011 9:45am. APPROVED!
Divorce decree - 08/24/2012
Filed for removal of conditions (waiver) i-751 - 10/22/12
Walk in Biometrics - 11/02/12
Service request (outside of processing timelines) - 06/21/13
i-751 Touched - 07/03/13
ROC i-751 Approval received - 07/08/13
Card production - 07/19/13
10 year card arrived - 07/25/13
N-400 Citizenship application sent - 12/08/2015

Interview - 05/25/2016

Oath Ceremony - 5/25/2016
US CITIZEN!

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You absolutely have to be a resident of the state in which you apply for 90 days prior to your application.

There's no doubt of that.

Residing in a state and being physically present in the state are two different things, as you hinted at.

If you live in CA and you move to WA on January 1st, then you can apply for naturalization in WA in early April even if you spend 20 days in February on vacation in Japan. Provided of course that that trip does not drop you below the required days of physical presence in the US.

Since you are trying to time this close to the minimum limits, it's advisable that you obtain proof of your exact move dates; for instance, start counting your days in WA from the day you sign a lease so that you have something to show that that was the date you started residing there. Also apply for a new state IS as soon as possible and keep the application receipt.

Edit: if you don't want to wait until you have an address (assuming that takes longer than 3 months) apply for a drivers license immediately. It'll take a few weeks but it'll be proof that you've moved. You'll have to apply for another license when you move again, which is a pain.

Edited by JimmyHou

For a review of each step of my N-400 naturalization process, from application to oath ceremony, please click here.

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