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Phoen1x

N-400 and Time spent outside of USA

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Hello I am thinking of applying but i have been in and out of the country a lot since i got my green card many times above 6 months but never more then 1 year.

I got my Greencard in 2007, and till 2011 i was inside the usa only one month out of year and spent 11 months outside the usa. But for the past 3 years i have been living in USA.

Now here is my question, i know the limit is you cannot exceed 30 months in a 5 year period and i am within that limit as of august. Its going to be 31(USA) > 29 (Outside) Pretty close i know.

Do i need to know anything specific before applying or just apply and hope they don't question the time period spent outside? I kept bank accounts, IDs, License etc should i have those documents ready to show i had ties in the states?

Should i just wait another year before applying or it doesn't matter since i still will have to list all the time i spent outside?

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Okay. Its only the last five years that matter. I understand the part the longer i stay in USA the more favorable my application becomes.

I want to know that will i have an issue with continuous residence even if i apply at a future date? Since i most likely broke CR. I was always less then a year but more then 6 months breaks CR in most cases.

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Short version: To be safest, as long as you didn't leave the U.S. for more than 1 year, wait until it has been at least 5 years with NO trips longer than 6 months before you apply.

Longer version: There are actually two different requirements you may be mixing together. The first is physical presence. This means that, in total, you must have been actually physically present inside the U.S. for at least 30 months (really, 913 days) in the last 5 years. The second is continuous residence, which is a completely separate requirement. It means you must have "maintained residence" in the US during that entire time of 5 years. Now, if you never leave the US for longer than 6 months, it's assumed that you never 'broke' your continuous residence and you don't have to worry about anything except the physical presence requirement. But, if you left for more than 6 months (but less than one year), it's assumed you DID break your continuous residence... Now, it's possible to prove you maintained your residence, but it's more of a challenge. Usually this can be done by showing records that you maintained a home (paid rent, paid bills, had insurance), kept a U.S. job (shown with pay stubs from a U.S. company), and kept a family in the U.S. (kids school records, etc). The problem of course is that it's a judgement call by the immigration officer and you are in a position of proving they are wrong (remember, it's ASSUMED you broke continuous residence when left for more than 6 months). Since you don't have to list travel before 5 years before your application, you can avoid all of this by just waiting.

Now, if you left for more than 1 year at one time, more serious problems come in to play... You actually might have "abandoned" your status as a permanent resident, in which case I would recommend hiring an immigration attorney to help you before you even consider filing an N-400. You could theoretically risk not only losing your N-400 application fee, but also losing your green card.

Good luck and hope this helps!

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Short version: To be safest, as long as you didn't leave the U.S. for more than 1 year, wait until it has been at least 5 years with NO trips longer than 6 months before you apply.

Longer version: There are actually two different requirements you may be mixing together. The first is physical presence. This means that, in total, you must have been actually physically present inside the U.S. for at least 30 months (really, 913 days) in the last 5 years. The second is continuous residence, which is a completely separate requirement. It means you must have "maintained residence" in the US during that entire time of 5 years. Now, if you never leave the US for longer than 6 months, it's assumed that you never 'broke' your continuous residence and you don't have to worry about anything except the physical presence requirement. But, if you left for more than 6 months (but less than one year), it's assumed you DID break your continuous residence... Now, it's possible to prove you maintained your residence, but it's more of a challenge. Usually this can be done by showing records that you maintained a home (paid rent, paid bills, had insurance), kept a U.S. job (shown with pay stubs from a U.S. company), and kept a family in the U.S. (kids school records, etc). The problem of course is that it's a judgement call by the immigration officer and you are in a position of proving they are wrong (remember, it's ASSUMED you broke continuous residence when left for more than 6 months). Since you don't have to list travel before 5 years before your application, you can avoid all of this by just waiting.

Now, if you left for more than 1 year at one time, more serious problems come in to play... You actually might have "abandoned" your status as a permanent resident, in which case I would recommend hiring an immigration attorney to help you before you even consider filing an N-400. You could theoretically risk not only losing your N-400 application fee, but also losing your green card.

Good luck and hope this helps!

Wow. Thank you for such a detailed response. I understand things much more clearly now. I guess i will have to wait till 2017 just to be on the safe side. Because as of right now i am the one who has to prove i maintained my residence here which is going to be very difficult because i was outside the country for 11 months out of the year.

Thanks again guys.

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