Citizenship Lawyer Tip: How to handle the N-400 question regarding trips abroad
As an immigration lawyer, my job is to deal with immigration problems. Naturalization, the process by which a permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, offers the perfect fix. Trade your green card for U.S citizenship and U.S. immigration laws will no longer apply to you.
So why would anyone with a green card who is eligible not apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process? The reasons are often complicated. Sometimes, people are just lazy. Life is busy and the green card might seem sufficient.
One common obstacle is that Form N-400 (Page 4, Part 7C) requires a naturalization applicant to list all trips since becoming a legal permanent resident or green card holder. This time period could go back more than the last 3-5 years. For some, it could be 10-20 years, which means that accurately answering this question might prove difficult or impossible.
When memory fails, or where documentation for older trips is hard to come by, listing all your international trips might be impossible. So what should you do? Would a good-faith attempt at reporting trips more than five years old be sufficient? Would USCIS deny your naturalization application if you are unable to disclose all of your trips outside the United States since becoming a permanent resident? What level of specificity and documentation would be sufficient when memory may be of no help and passport stamps may not exist?
A good faith effort to list all your trips abroad might suffice
According to recently published minutes of a meeting between the USCIS Boston District Office and the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, USCIS takes the position that it will accept a good-faith attempt at reporting the trips.
In most cases, this good faith effort will be sufficient.
A good faith attempt at disclosing trips abroad will not be sufficient where an immigration officer suspects abandonment. Permanent residents are required to permanently maintain residency in the U.S. So if you, as a green card holder, have been out of the United States for a long periods of time, or have traveled frequently outside the United States, or your pattern of international travel raises doubts as to whether you have continuously lived in the United States, then the approval of your naturalization application based on a good faith attempt may be insufficient. The abandonment issue is a huge red flag. If you've been living outside the U.S. while in green card status and have been coming back and forth, don't apply for naturalization without first reviewing your case with a capable immigration lawyer.
Consult with an immigration lawyer specializing in Citizenship and Naturalization
Interesting in applying for U.S. citizenship but worried because you can't recall all your trips abroad? Living abroad with your green card? Call me at 617-722-0005. Make an appoint to meet with me! In my years as an immigration lawyer, I've handled countless N-400 application for green card holders. I look forward to helping you achieve your immigration goals.