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N400 and absence from US

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Germany
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Hello all,

I am a new member (just joined today after a friend highly recommended this forum!) - I've been a PR since 2009, am married to a US citizen and both my kids are dual citizens (Germany/US). I would like to file for citizenship, and here is my question: in 2010/11, my husband and I left the country for almost 7 months (6 months and 28 days) to go back to Germany because he got a scholarship to conduct predissertation research. I had no problems coming back to the US, but am worried that it will cause problems now when I file. I read up on this on the uscis website, and apparently, an absence between 6 and 12 months is considered a "grey zone", where a possible abandonment of the permanent residency can be suspected. I know that I need to provode proof of my ties to the US during those months. We kept our apartment, credit cards, cell phones etc. I did not work while in Germany, we filed taxes here. I will attach tax returns and rent payments, as it states in the N400 instructions. Still, I am worried. Has anybody been in a similar situation. Any advice?

Should I consider waiting until 2016 when the 5 years have passed, and my absence would not have to be included on the N400 form? Should I file under the 3 year rule, and only provide trips outside the US within the last 3 years? Any input would be REALLY appreciated :)

Thank you,

Sonja

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Nigeria
Timeline

Hello all,

I am a new member (just joined today after a friend highly recommended this forum!) - I've been a PR since 2009, am married to a US citizen and both my kids are dual citizens (Germany/US). I would like to file for citizenship, and here is my question: in 2010/11, my husband and I left the country for almost 7 months (6 months and 28 days) to go back to Germany because he got a scholarship to conduct predissertation research. I had no problems coming back to the US, but am worried that it will cause problems now when I file. I read up on this on the uscis website, and apparently, an absence between 6 and 12 months is considered a "grey zone", where a possible abandonment of the permanent residency can be suspected. I know that I need to provode proof of my ties to the US during those months. We kept our apartment, credit cards, cell phones etc. I did not work while in Germany, we filed taxes here. I will attach tax returns and rent payments, as it states in the N400 instructions. Still, I am worried. Has anybody been in a similar situation. Any advice?

Should I consider waiting until 2016 when the 5 years have passed, and my absence would not have to be included on the N400 form? Should I file under the 3 year rule, and only provide trips outside the US within the last 3 years? Any input would be REALLY appreciated :)

Thank you,

Sonja

You been married to a US citizen for 3 years right? If so you are under the 3 year rule. You have more than enough time in.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Germany
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Yes, been married since 2009. But I could technically file under the 5 year rule, because I have been a permanent resident since June 2009. If I file under the 3 year rule, do I still have to report absences for the last 5 years, or only for the last 3?

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
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Yes, been married since 2009. But I could technically file under the 5 year rule, because I have been a permanent resident since June 2009. If I file under the 3 year rule, do I still have to report absences for the last 5 years, or only for the last 3?

That's something that isn't clear... the instructions say that you're supposed to list trips from the past 5 years... but if you've only been in the US for 3, you obviously only list trips in the last 3 years.

But what if you've been a permanent resident for 4 years? Do you list all 4 or just 3? I think you can argue either way, but it's not clear to me because the instructions don't make it clear. Besides, even if you only list the last 3 years, the interviewer might take one look at your green card date and check the other trips... he'll have your passport right there and access to your entry records.

Personally, since the form asks for the last 5 years, I would list the trips in the last 5 years, but that's just my opinion.

Also, there are several cases reported on here where the interviewer switched an application from the 3 year rule to the 5 year rule during the interview because it meant he/she didn't have to review all of the marriage evidence.

This is just my opinion, but I don't think your 7 month trip will be grounds for denial or even for much of a delay even if you apply under the five year rule, especially if you take evidence of ties to the US during that time with you to the interview. There may be a slight delay because a supervisor may have to be consulted, but I doubt that it will be significant.


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

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Germany
Timeline

This was very helpful, thank you JimmyHou. I was thinking the same, that even if I file under the 3 year rule, I would still have to list all absences in the last 5 years, since that's what the form asks. And I've been in the US as a PR for 5 years, so technically, the 5 year rule DOES apply in my case. Maybe I'll just risk it, file now and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I'm out the filing fee, right? There wouldn't be any legal consequences for getting denied? And I could re-try in 2016, after 5 years of uninterrupted presence in the US, if it doesn't go through now, right?

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
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This was very helpful, thank you JimmyHou. I was thinking the same, that even if I file under the 3 year rule, I would still have to list all absences in the last 5 years, since that's what the form asks. And I've been in the US as a PR for 5 years, so technically, the 5 year rule DOES apply in my case. Maybe I'll just risk it, file now and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I'm out the filing fee, right? There wouldn't be any legal consequences for getting denied? And I could re-try in 2016, after 5 years of uninterrupted presence in the US, if it doesn't go through now, right?

The only legal impact would be if they decide that you abandoned your green card when you were away for 7 months, but that is incredibly unlikely... I wouldn't even worry about that for a minute.

I would file under the 5 year rule now since you are eligible (if I understood correctly). Less paperwork that way.


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

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It has been more than 3 year ago, I don't think they concern about abandonment back then when you have well established your residence for last 3 year. 5 years N400 is yes.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
Timeline

This was very helpful, thank you JimmyHou. I was thinking the same, that even if I file under the 3 year rule, I would still have to list all absences in the last 5 years, since that's what the form asks. And I've been in the US as a PR for 5 years, so technically, the 5 year rule DOES apply in my case. Maybe I'll just risk it, file now and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I'm out the filing fee, right? There wouldn't be any legal consequences for getting denied? And I could re-try in 2016, after 5 years of uninterrupted presence in the US, if it doesn't go through now, right?

http://www.uscis.gov/forms/tips-filing-form-n-400-application-naturalization

"In Items 1-3, list your travel (trips lasting 24 hours or longer) outside of the United States during the last 5 years.

During your interview, we may ask for more information about your travel beyond the past 5 years."


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

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Germany
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I'm worried because of this:

"Disruption of continuity of residence

(1) Absence from the United States.

(i) For continuous periods of between six (6) months and one (1) year. Absences from the United States for continuous periods of between six (6) months and one (1) year during the periods for which continuous residence is required under § 316.2(a)(3) and (a)(6) shall disrupt the continuity of such residence for purposes of this part unless the applicant can establish otherwise to the satisfaction of the Service. This finding remains valid even if the applicant did not apply for or otherwise request a nonresident classification for tax purposes, did not document an abandonment of lawful permanent resident status, and is still considered a lawful permanent resident under immigration laws. The types of documentation which may establish that the applicant did not disrupt the continuity of his or her residence in the United States during an extended absence include, but are not limited to, evidence that during the absence: (Amended 9/24/93; 58 FR 49913)

(A) The applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the United States;

(B) The applicant's immediate family remained in the United States;

© The applicant retained full access to his or her United States abode; or

(D) The applicant did not obtain employment while abroad."

(http://www.uscis.gov/iframe/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-11261/0-0-0-30960/0-0-0-31016.html)

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
Timeline

I don't think you should worry. There areota of people who naturalize with similar absences. You may be asked about it. It may cause a slight delay. But if you can document ties to the U.S. I think you won't have any trouble.

But as you said, worst case is you reapply a little further down the line if your application is denied.

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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I also doubt it would be an issue.


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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: India
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unless the applicant can establish otherwise to the satisfaction of the Service. You said your husband had a grant to do research. Attach copies of his acceptance to the grant, anything related to that. Write an affidavit explaining that you had to go with him, and explain why. Only these reasons are known to you, but I guess you would say something like as my husband is the head of the household we made a decision, etc etc.



Also, see if you fall in one of these categories, and if you do, provide proof.



(A) The applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the United States;




(B) The applicant's immediate family remained in the United States;




© The applicant retained full access to his or her United States abode; or- you probably almost definitely fall into this category, so maybe attach a least or proof that you guys continued to pay rent on your apartment? Literally any proof you had, rent bills, utility bills, an agreement that your friend house sat for you.




(D) The applicant did not obtain employment while abroad.- if you did not work while outside of US for those 7 months, this also helps. I think here you would just attach an affidavit stating you did not obtain employment, maybe say you were taking care of the children and the household. Again, ANY proof works.



I agree with the above posters that you should not worry and just take it one day at a time, but definitely apply, check off the 3 year option (I think it says something like I am married to a US citizen) and just show them any proof you had. For example that you purchased a roundtrip flight.



Best of luck!



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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Brazil
Timeline

Hi Sonja,

I had the same issue. In my case I had 3 periods of absence over 6 months in a 3 year period, from 2007 til 2010, because my USC husband was working abroad. We returned permanently in July 2010 and I applied for my citizenship in June of this year, almost 4 years later. I was very worried that they would make a big deal about that so I waited until I only had one of those "trips" in my travel history for the past 5 years, which lasted for about 7 months. I did disclose all my trips for the past 5 years and not 3, even though I applied based on marriage. The IO said: "I see you spent 7 months in Singapore" and I said it was because my husband was working there. And that was it. I had a HUGE stack of documents to prove that I didn't abandon my residence but he didn't ask for anything other than my children's birth certificates. Like me, you've been a LPR for quite a while (since 2006) and married for well over 3 years (I've been married for 9). I do think that it's less of an issue if you apply based on marriage as well.

So my advice is, just be prepared to prove to them that you didn't mean to abandon your residence. They might ask you about it or they might not. They will probably send you a yellow letter requesting evidence on that, but don't let it phase you. I am proud to say I've been a US citizen since Nov. 4th.

Good luck! PM me if you have any more questions.

alix

Edited by alix

N-400 (based on 3-year marriage rule)
06/05/2014 Application Sent
06/06/2014 Application Received in Phoenix

06/09/2014 Priority Date

06/11/2014 Notice Date

06/12//2014 Check Cashed
06/12/2014 Received email/text receipt confirmation from Phoenix Lockbox

06/17/2014 Biometrics Letter mailed
06/20/2014 Biometrics Letter Received

06/24/2014 Biometrics Walk-in

06/26/2014 In line for Interview

07/03/2014 Original Biometrics Appointment

07/29/2014 Yellow Letter Received

09/05/2014 Interview letter Received

10/07/2014 Interview

10/17/2014 Received email/text that oath has been scheduled

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Germany
Timeline

Alix,

thank you so much for sharing your experience!! That makes me feel SO MUCH better! And congrats on being a citizen now - that's awesome :)

Can I ask why you filed under the 3 year rule? Do we have to do this, because it's marriage based? Or does it really matter, in the end? Did you send in all the documents requested based on the 3 year rule, or just the documents for the 5 year rule?

Sonja

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