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Can I travel while I am applying for U.S. citizenship?

Yes. As long as you have a valid permanent resident card, you are welcome to travel during the citizenship process. However, it is essential that you do not miss your fingerprinting appointment, naturalization interview, and oath ceremony. Any missed appointments can severely delay your application for U.S. citizenship.

What travel dates are needed for a U.S. citizenship application?

All travel dates outside of the U.S. from the last five years are required for every naturalization application.

As a green card holder, can I spend six months or more outside of the United States to care for a sick family member without losing my permanent residence status?

Permanent residents are not supposed to travel outside of the U.S. for trips longer than 6 months. If you spend more than six months outside of the U.S., when you return, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer may ask you to explain why you were away for so long. CBP may give you a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. Trips less than six months long are rarely an issue.

Trips over six months long can also cause problems with U.S. citizenship applications. An immigration officer may ask for proof that you did not abandon your U.S. residence while out of the country for more than six months. To do this, you may be asked to provide evidence of tax returns, bank accounts, mortgages, or other ties to the U.S. during the time that you were traveling. One of the greatest benefits of U.S. citizenship is the ability to travel outside of the U.S. indefinitely.

What if I travel for a year or more?

Any trip of one year or more means that a person must be in the U.S. for four years and one day after their return to be eligible for U.S. citizenship. If you think you will be outside of the United States for one year or longer, you should apply for a re-entry permit before leaving. That permit will allow you to be away for up to two years. If you need to be away for longer, return before the two years have passed and apply for a new permit.

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