Requirement for Naturalization —— The Continuous Residence

Among all the requirements for Naturalization, “continuous residence” is the one about which every applicant should be extra careful. Especially, if applicants have to travel outside of the US due to his family or job abroad, it is crucial to truly understand the requirement of “continuous residence”. The other requirements for naturalization that are not mentioned in this article. This article discusses “continuous residence” for naturalization process purpose only.

According to INA 316 and 319, the requirement for “continuous residence” breaks down to the following requirements:

  1. the applicant must have resided continuously in the US after he became a Green Card holder for at least 5 years (3 years for US citizen’s spouse);
  2. the applicant must have been physically present in the US for periods totaling at least one-half of the time, I.e., 30 months out of 5 years; 18 months out of 3 years for US citizen’s spouse;
  3. the applicant must has resided in the state having jurisdiction over the application for 3 months prior to filing; and
  4. the applicant must reside continuously in the US from the date of the application for naturalization until the date of admission of citizenship.

Many applicants are confused by the difference between “continuous residence” and “physical presence”. They are related but not the same concept. This requirement does not prohibit naturalization applicants from leaving the US. However, absences from the US may lead to interruptions of continuous residence.

It is important to understand the definition of “continuous residence”. INA 316(a) provides that the applicant must maintain a permanent dwelling place in the US to satisfy the continuous residence requirement. Such place must be “the same as the alien’s domicile, or principal actual dwelling place, without regard to the alien’s intent.” The period of time measured starts from “the moment the alien first establishes residence in that location.”

INA 316(b) provides the regulations of absences and interruption of continuous residence. First, an applicant’s continuous residence may be found interrupted if he has multiple absences of less than 6 months because such absences may lead to a conclusion that the applicant’s principal actual dwelling is not in the US. In another word, although multiple absences of less than 6 months do not lead to a presumption on interruption of continuous residence, applicants who have multiple absences still should consult an immigration lawyer if they would like to apply for citizenship.

Second, an applicant who was absent from the US for a continuous period of longer than 6 months but shorter than one year, continuity is presumed broken unless the applicant proves that he did not abandon residence in the US. Recall that the applicant’s intent is irrelevant to the consideration of his permanent dwelling place. INA 316 provides a list of evidence that applicants can introduce to overcome the presumption, including but not limited to keeping applicant’s employment in the US and applicant’s immediate family member remaining in the US. I will discuss some cases regarding this issue in future articles.

Finally, if the applicant is absent from the US for over one year, he might still be eligible under some circumstances. However, unlike the absences shorter than one year, absences for one year or longer constitute an interruption of the continuous residence. You definitely should consult an immigration lawyer if you have been absent from the US for such long time.

 

Law Office of Hong-min Jun

—— Attorney for Foreign-Born Individuals and Small Businesses

 

Email:   askus@junlawfirm

cchen@junlawfirm (Chinese)

Phone: 847-660-4233

Website: junlawfirm.com

 

 

关于归化入籍要求的解释 —— 居住连续性

 

在归化入籍的几个规定中,居住连续性是影响最多申请人的,特别是那些家人或工作还在国内,需要经常往返中美的申请人,应当引起所有入籍申请人的注意。想要顺利取得美国国籍,并且兼顾国内的工作或家人,理解本文中所讲解的“连续性”的具体要求至关重要。关于归化入籍的要求,上周发布的文章中有过简要介绍。本文将只针对归化申请法律程序下的“居住连续性“要件展开讨论。

根据美国《移民法》(INA 316(A)和319)规定,关于居住连续性的规定可以简要归纳为以下几个要求:

  1. 入籍申请人必须持美国绿卡至少5年(INA 316)。如果是美国公民配偶则至少3年(INA 319);
  2. 这5年中至少有一半的时间(30个月)处美国境内。如果是美国公民配偶则至少18个月;
  3. 提交申请时,至少在提交申请的州居住了3个月;以及
  4. 提交申请到入籍期间连续居住在美国。

很多申请人都不清楚连续居住和实际居住的具体区别。它们之间联系紧密但是不同的两个概念。居住连续性的要求并不阻止归化申请人离开美国。然而,一些离境行为确实会导致居住连续性的中断,从而影响归化入籍的申请。首先,了解“居住连续性”的定义十分重要。《移民法》316(a)规定,申请人必须在美国保留有居住地,以满足居住连续性的要求。该居住地必须是申请人的住处、或实际的主要居住地,与申请人的主观意图无关。考量时间自申请人在该地居住开始。

《移民法》316(b)中规定了离境美国导致居住连续性中断的情形。第一,申请人每次离境时间短于6个月,但多次离境的情况,有可能被认定为其主要居住地不在美国境内,从而影响入籍申请中关于实际居住的判断。虽然多次时间短于6个月的离境行为并不导致居住连续性中断的推论,但如果你有这样的情况,建议你在申请前咨询移民律师。

第二,申请人单次离境长于6个月但短于1年则被推定为居住连续性中断,除非申请人可以证明其并没有放弃在美国的居住地。上文提到过,申请人的主观意图并不影响其居住地的认定。也就是说,即便申请人主观上是将其在美国的住宅作为自己的主要居住地,一旦他离境超过了6个月,居住连续性就被推定为中断。《移民法》中也提供了这种情况下申请人可以提交的一些证据的举例,包括但不限于申请人在美国有工作和申请人的近亲属仍在美国居住。很多申请人都面临这种情况,在时间的计算和认定上也经常有比较复杂的情况存在,我会在今后发布的文章中对一些案例进行介绍和分析。

最后,申请人单次离境时间长于1年。 虽然表面看上去申请人由于离境时间过长,已被认定为居住连续性中断,但在一些情况下,申请人仍然可以顺利入籍。不同于离境时长短于1年的情况,单次离境时间长于1年将被认定为居住的连续性中断。如果你在申请的5年内(美国公民配偶3年)曾经单次离境时间长于1年,你讲需要咨询移民律师以获得专业的移民法帮助。

 

全洪敏律师事务所

—— Attorney for Foreign-Born Individuals and Small Businesses

 

Email: cchen@junlawfirm (中文)

Phone: 847-660-4233

网站: junlawfirm.com