When a person is applying for naturalization, they typically have to prove continuous residence. This can be a bit overwhelming to someone first applying for naturalization and often needs to be explained in greater detail. Leaving the United States, even to visit friends and family in a home country, can disrupt this requirement and hinder the naturalization process.
What continuous residence means is that a person has been in the United States for a certain amount of time. Typically, to be eligible for naturalization, a person must have maintained a continuous presence in the United States for five years. If the person is already married to a citizen, the continuous residence requirement is lessened to three years. In cases of domestic violence, there may be an exception to this rule.
Visiting friends and family in a home country is permitted and does not disrupt the residency requirement if that trip is less than six months long. If a trip is more than six months long but less than one year, the residency requirement is typically considered disrupted. If the trip is longer than a year, residency status is always broken. Any trip taken should be limited to less than six months.
Any person who wishes to apply for citizenship in the United States should be aware of the requirements for their unique situation. An experienced immigration attorney can assist people in filling out the correct paperwork and ensuring that it is accurate.