August 30, 2010: Naturalization for an LPR Living Abroad

Naturalization for an LPR Residing Abroad

I am a US citizen working abroad and my wife is a Green Card holder since 2007. My wife visits the US every 5 months for about 20 days each trip. She has maintained her residency status but total days lived in the US is around 120 days in three years. Is this a problem when applying for citizenship now that she is eligible? Thank you.
— Anonymous

You are welcome.

Generally speaking, when filing for Naturalization, the applicant must show that they meet the continuous residence and physical presence requirements. The continuous residence requirement is that the applicant must not remain outside the United States in excess of 6 months at any one given time during the statutory period immediately prior to the filing of the naturalization application.

The physical presence requirement is that the applicant must be physically present in the United States at least half of the statutory time. In this instance, if naturalization is based on marriage to a United States citizen, the applicant is eligible to file for naturalization two years and nine months from the date permanent residence was granted. When the applicant or the applicant’s United States citizen spouse is employed abroad for the U.S. government (or its contractors), a public international organization, a recognized American institution of research, or works for an organization that is designated under the International Immunities Act, then the applicant may be eligible for an exception to the physical presence and residence requirements.

The applicant will have to show physical presence in the United States that is at least half of that two year and nine month time period. Additionally, the applicant will have to prove s/he has resided within the district of filing for the three month period prior to the date of filing. Thus, based on what you have stated, it does not appear that your wife is eligible unless she falls into one of the exceptions. Without knowing all of the facts, another issue that this applicant may face is being able to prove that s/he has been living with the United States citizen spouse, which is a requirement for citizenship through marriage after three years of residency.

It may be wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can explain the laws as they pertain to the specific facts in your case.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys