How long is the required period for continuous residence and physical presence in the U.S.?
The required period of time varies depending on how legal permanent residency was obtained. For those that received permanent residency based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, the requirements are three years of continuous residence in the U.S. Additionally, proof must be submitted showing that they were physically present in the U.S. for at least half of that time, which would equate to a year and a half. Applicants that did not receive their permanent residency based on marriage to a U.S. citizen are required to have five years of continuous residence and be physically present in the U.S. for at least two and a half years.
Absences from the U.S. of six months or less do not break a citizenship applicant's continuous residence. However, if the absence is more than six months an applicant will have to re-accrue continuous residence. In some cases, those who must take an extended trip outside of the U.S. may file an application to preserve their residence for naturalization. If approved, this permits a permanent resident to meet the continuous residence requirement even though he is not physically present in the U.S. for a prolonged period as required.