Traveling internationally can be an exciting time that creates memories which often last a lifetime. However, for people who are not yet United States Citizens, traveling internationally for long periods of time can cause issues when applying to naturalize as a U.S. Citizen.
When you are preparing your naturalization application, USCIS form N-400, you must declare every trip you have taken outside the United States over the last five years. The form asks for the exact dates you left the United States, when returned to the United States, and what countries you visited. These are being asked to ensure that you have satisfied the physical presence and continuous residency requirements of INA § 316. These questions are also asked to ensure that you have not abandoned your Legal Permanent Residence (LPR) since becoming a LPR.
A LPR can leave the United States and re-enter within six months, generally speaking, without any issues. With trips lasting over one year, DHS could determine you have abandoned your Legal Permanent Residence if you have not applied for a Re-Entry Permit before leaving the US, and did not have “intent” to maintain residency. See Matter of Huang, 19 I. & N. Dec. 749 (BIA 1988). DHS will say you were inadmissible at the time of admission because you would not have had a valid visa when you last entered the United States. See INA § 212 (a)(7)(A)(i)(I). By being inadmissible at the time of entry, the Notice to Appear would charge you are deportable under INA § 237(a)(1)(A). At this point, you would have to defend yourself against this charge in the immigration court.
If you have worked outside the U.S. for long periods of time after becoming a legal permanent resident, or believe you will be required to leave the U.S. for long periods of time in the future, consult with an experienced immigration attorney so you can discuss how to preserve your permanent residency, and avoid USCIS from referring your case to an immigration court.
Our office would be glad to consult with you on your immigration matter, so please contact us for a consultation here.