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james.turner

technically abandoned residency

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Hi everyone,

My wife is a permanent resident. She moved to the US on 6/18/11 and we were married legally on 6/25/11.

On 4/27/14, we left the United States with the intention of residing in Costa Rica. We never reported a change of address or abandonment of residency to USCIS even though we sold our house here. We returned to the US for vacation from 9/11/14-10/2/14 (so 4 months out of the country).

We just returned to the US on June 30, 2015 with the intention of moving back to the US, staying here permanently. She has not taken a trip out of the US that has lasted more than 1 year.

We have now been married for 4 years and would like to pursue citizenship for her now that we are back to stay. Is this something that we could do? Do we need to be worried that they will discover she moved out of the US for 14 months?

Thanks,

James

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the forms collect that info.


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Hi everyone,

My wife is a permanent resident. She moved to the US on 6/18/11 and we were married legally on 6/25/11.

On 4/27/14, we left the United States with the intention of residing in Costa Rica. We never reported a change of address or abandonment of residency to USCIS even though we sold our house here. We returned to the US for vacation from 9/11/14-10/2/14 (so 4 months out of the country).

We just returned to the US on June 30, 2015 with the intention of moving back to the US, staying here permanently. She has not taken a trip out of the US that has lasted more than 1 year.

We have now been married for 4 years and would like to pursue citizenship for her now that we are back to stay. Is this something that we could do? Do we need to be worried that they will discover she moved out of the US for 14 months?

Thanks,

James

Since she didn't formally abandon her green card then she has a good chance... in my unprofessional opinion. The interviewer will be unlikely to want proof that she did not intend to abandon her green card since she wasn't gone for a year. If you can show any ties to the U.S. during that year, that will help. You may be asked why your wife didn't apply for a reentry permit, but the visit in the middle will probably negate the need for that question.

Assuming her green card was not abandoned (sounds like it wasn't):

Her continuous residency may have been broken. It depends on whether or not USCIS will view the time outside the U.S. as two long trips outside the US while living in the US or as a year living outside the US with a short vacation in the middle. One way continuous residence is broken, one way it isn't. I would guess that her continuous residence was broken; even trips under six months can break continuous residence.

If she broke continuous residence, she can apply for citizenship 2 years and 1 day from the day you moved back to the U.S. This will be a marriage based application. She can apply based on her own credentials as a permanent resident in 4 years and 1 day from the day she returned. In my opinion, this is the safer thing to do. If you apply now, you will have to prove that she didn't break continuous residence during that year, which sounds like it'll be difficult to do.

The question about whether or not they'll find out about the trips is moot. She will have to report all her travel with exact dates on the application. Lying and getting caught will result in a denial and a 5 year bar from reapplying. Lying and not getting caught immediately could result in future denaturalization. They will cross check this against her CBP travel record.

So she can apply now and try to convince the interviewer that she was only abroad on a temporary basis (doesn't sound like the case here) or she can apply in July 2017 as the wife of a U.S. citizen or in July 2019 on her own.


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