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Immigration Law

USCIS Policy Alert: Effect of Breaks in Continuity of Residence on Eligibility for Naturalization

USCIS, Feb. 26, 2020

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy
Manual to address naturalization applicants’ absences from the United States of more than 6 months
but less than 1 year during the statutorily required continuous residence period.

Background

An applicant for naturalization generally must have resided continuously in the United States after his
or her lawful permanent resident (LPR) admission for at least 5 years prior to filing the
naturalization application (residence must continue until the applicant is naturalized. Under the law,
an absence from the United States for more than 6 months but less than 1 year during that 5-year
statutory period triggers a presumption of a break in the continuity of such residence.

This update to Volume 12 of the Policy Manual addresses when an applicant who has broken his or
her continuous residence may reapply for naturalization. The guidance contained in the Policy
Manual is controlling and supersedes any related prior USCIS guidance.

Policy Highlights

  • Clarifies that naturalization applicants absent from the United States during the statutory period
    for more than 6 months but less than 1 year, must overcome the presumption that the continuity
    of residence has been broken in order to remain eligible for naturalization.
  • Clarifies that an applicant who USCIS determines to have broken the continuity of residence
    must establish a new period of continuous residence; the requisite duration of that period
    depends on the basis upon which the applicant seeks to naturalize.

Citation

Volume 12: Citizenship and Naturalization, Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3]."