0-Many people who live in the United States as green card holders wonder if they can leave the country for an extended period of time and return to the U.S. without their absence affecting their residency status. Immigration law in the United States defines residency as the applicant’s primary “dwelling place in fact without regard to intent.” In other words, it is the actual location that the applicant resides within at a given point in time as opposed to where he or she is looking to reside.
Some residents find that they need to live outside of the United States for longer than one year in order to perform work duties for jobs in areas such as government, international businesses, or for religious organizations. These situations require the resident to file an N-470 application in order to maintain their residency status in the U.S. The N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for
Naturalization Purposes allows a resident, upon approval, to maintain residency status despite living outside the U.S. for more than one year. Residents who have been granted residency for the purpose of naturalization are required to file the N-470 form prior to leaving the country unless he or she is doing so for a religious organization. In such cases, the resident is allowed to submit the application either before or after they leave the country and in many cases even after they return to the United States.
Form N-470 can be filed from outside the U.S. but it does have to be filed before the resident has been living outside the country for one continuous year. Whether the form is filed within the United States or outside the country, however, reentry permits must be applied for prior to leaving. Residents must also be physically present for naturalization per the naturalization policy. Once the reentry permit is obtained the resident can stay outside the United States for as long as two years and still maintain residency status.
In terms of continuous residence, applicants who have been married to and living with a U.S. citizen for at least 3 years are required to have held residency status for a minimum of 3 years themselves. The naturalization policy dictates that an applicant is allowed to file a naturalization application as little as 3 months before they are about to meet the 3 year requirement for continuous residency.
The N-470 form is critical to those residents who are looking to maintain their status as being absent from the U.S. for more than one continuous year will disrupt that status unless the form has been filed and approved. If continuous residency is broken as the result of the resident living outside the United States for more than one continuous year without filing the N-470 form and gaining approval, he or she will be required to wait 4 years and 1 day following the date they return to the U.S. in order to regain their status as a permanent resident.
Lyttle Law Firm and its dedicated team of experienced attorney have helped countless permanent residents maintain their status and achieve citizenship despite extended periods of time spent outside the United States. If you or someone you know is interested in filing the N-470 form or would like more information about our services please visit the Austin immigration attorney at Lyttle Law Firm on their website or call their offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.