Are continuous residence and physical presence the same?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2023 | Immigration |

There are different requirements you must complete as an immigrant to go through the naturalization process and become a citizen of the United States. Residing in the U.S. is one of them. However, you might confuse continuous residence with physical presence in the country.

Though the concepts of continuous residence and physical presence might seem identical, they are actually different from each other in important ways.

The definition of continuous residence

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, continuous residence means that an immigrant must have a permanent dwelling location in the U.S. Basically, the law mandates that you have a place to live in the United States for as many years as you need in order to fulfill naturalization requirements.

Generally, immigrants must maintain a residence for no less than five years before filing an application for naturalization and also the process of naturalization itself. The exact period may depend on your immigration status.

The definition of physical presence

For the U.S. government to count you as physically present in the United States, you must actually be in the country. While you may maintain a home in the U.S., you could also take a trip abroad, meaning you may still have a continuous residence but not be physically present in the U.S.

Usually, U.S. authorities require immigrants to be physically present for no less than half of the time of their continuous residence. However, immigrants must also have at least three months of physical presence before filing an INA 316(a) application for naturalization.

The exact number of days needed to fulfill continuous residence and physical presence is not the same for all immigrants. Check to see what the U.S. government will require in your particular case.