How Long Must You Reside in the U.S. with an EB-1 Green Card Before Applying for Citizenship?

Now that you have been granted permanent residency under an EB-1 green card, you may be wondering how you can maintain your U.S. residence in order to apply for citizenship as soon as possible. As it may be necessary for you to travel outside the U.S., you must understand the difference between your physical presence and your residence in the United States.

In order to qualify for citizenship, green card holders must demonstrate an intent to live in the U.S. by maintaining both a physical presence and a permanent home. In other words, merely having your name on a lease or mortgage in the U.S. is not enough to demonstrate intent; you must also spend at least half of the probationary green card period within U.S. borders.

Under the rules of continuous residency, if you are absent from the U.S. for:

  • Under six months: If you do not spend more than six months outside of the U.S. during your probationary period, you have met the requirements of the continuous residence rule.
  • Between six and twelve months: An absence longer than six months but shorter than one year may cause USCIS to suspect that you have abandoned your US residency. They may begin to investigate the circumstances and intent of your residence, such as checking your tax records to see if you filed as a non-resident or checking for changes in housing documentation—such as termination of a lease or sale of your house.
  • More than twelve months: If the alien is absent from the U.S. for twelve continuous months or more, USCIS will consider his residence abandoned.

If you have been absent from your residence for longer than the allowable period, you may be able to re-establish your continuity of residence and apply for U.S. citizenship at a later date. For example, if you were originally on a five-year residency requirement, you must wait four years and one day after re-admittance to the U.S before you may file for naturalization. There are also state residency requirements that must be met before you may file for naturalization as a resident of California.

Vaughan de Kirby
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San Francisco California EB-5 Investment Immigration Attorney