What is continuous physical presence?


Independent attorneys in the Boundless network answer common U.S. immigration questions

Jun 16, 2021


What is continuous physical presence?

To be eligible for citizenship, an applicant must have continuously lived in the United States as a green card holder for at least five years (or at least three years if they’re married to a U.S. citizen).

“Continuously” means they did not take any trips outside of the United States that each lasted six months or longer during the 3–5 years they were required to have a green card (plus the extra period while USCIS processes their U.S. citizenship application).

In other words, an applicant is allowed to leave the United States — they just have to make sure to return within six months every time.

You can read more about continuous physical presence requirements here.

If I move and update my address with USCIS, will this delay any of the processing times?

Usually not, but if the applicant moves to a new USCIS field office jurisdiction (such as to a different state), they will be subject to that field office’s processing times, which could be longer (but sometimes shorter, too). In general, changing addresses within the same field office region won’t affect processing times. Forgetting to update USCIS when an address changes will, however, cause delays.


Boundless — for people who want the expertise
of an immigration lawyer, not the price tag.