Many individuals come into my office and ask, “John, I’ve been out of the country for more than one year, but I’ve been a Green Card holder for more than five years. Can I apply for citizenship?” The problem is, if you stay outside of the United States for more than one year, immigration is going to look at that. The statutes state that you’ve broken your continuous residence in the United States. You’re not going to be eligible for citizenship right away. You will have to stay in the United States to reconcile the loss of physical presence.
In the event that you are out of the United States for more than a year, you will have to fill out Form I-131 to attempt to obtain a re-entry permit. If you are outside of the United States for more than two years, you will need to apply to be a returning resident to the country because your re-entry permit will have expired by this time. For the most part, any time outside of the United States while you are a Green Card holder that lasts more than 6 months can make it more difficult to re-enter the country and continue with your citizenship process.
John Sesini is an experienced immigration attorney with offices in Milwaukee and Green Bay Wisconsin. Contact an experienced attorney to set up an initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding your specific case.