Part 9 of Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, requires applicants to list each trip of 24 hours or more that was made outside the United States over the previous five years. Itemizing this “time outside the United States” can be a challenging task for applicants with numerous trips abroad.
List Individual Trips Outside the United States
It’s easiest to start by listing your individual trips. Include any trip (including visits to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean) that lasted 24 hours or longer. Next, enter the dates of the trip and determine the number of days you spent outside the U.S. during each absence. If you visited two or more countries before returning to the U.S., it still counts as a single trip. If you are having trouble remembering the dates of travel, read how to find travel records. Form N-400 accommodates only six trips. If you’ve run out of room, use our N-400 Attachment Template to list additional records.
Why USCIS Requires This Information
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants details about your time spent outside the U.S. to determine if you’ve met the continuous residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization. Extensive time outside the United States raises a presumption that continuity of residence has been disrupted. Of course, USCIS can obtain this information on it’s own. So part of the exercise is a test in good moral character.
What is Extensive Time Outside the United States?
Extensive time outside the United States could come in the form of one long trip or the combined days from several trips outside the U.S. Here are some general guidelines:
- Avoid any single trip outside the U.S. that lasts six months or longer
- Avoid cumulative trips that add up to at least half of the required residence period (30 months for a five-year permanent resident or 18 months for a three-year permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen).
For more information about the dangers of extensive absences from the U.S., read about the continuous residence and physical presence requirements. If you have spent a significant number of days outside the U.S. (over 180 days), CitizenPath recommends that you consult with an attorney before filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.