Can't remember trips for citizenship application
February 9, 2009 10:15 AM   Subscribe

US permanent resident, applying for citizenship. I've made many brief road-trips to Canada over the past five years to see my family and can't possibly remember them all. There are also two trips to Europe I can't precisely date. The citizenship application requires that I report all trips out of the country. What should I do? I really don't want to wait another five years for citizenship. Can I ask to view my entry/exit record with USCIS so as to be able to reconstruct my travels on that basis? Is there a better way to do this?
posted by limon to Law & Government (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you still have your passport?
posted by Ookseer at 10:19 AM on February 9, 2009

Oh man, I had to do that when I applied right after graduating from university in Canada, so I had TONS of trips in there. Not very fun. I approximated dates to coincide with holidays like thanksgiving, xmas, summer break, etc. They didn't give me any problems about my dates, however, I was rejected because I hadn't physically lived in the US for more than half of the last 5 years. I planned on applying again after living and working in the states for a year, but now I'm getting married in March to a US citizen, so I'm going to wait til after that to apply again. Good luck!
posted by Grither at 10:22 AM on February 9, 2009

Some suggestions:

(1) Did you use credit cards during those trips? If so, you can comb through your records (paper or online) to find dates.

(2) Did you take digital pictures during those trips? If so, and if you set the clock in your camera properly, they may be time-stamped.

(3) Also, ask all of your family members if they have old datebooks, etc, in which they might have written down the dates you were visiting.
posted by googly at 10:25 AM on February 9, 2009

Response by poster: Ookseer, I'm a Canadian citizen, so my passport is not stamped upon entry to Canada, nor upon re-entry to the States (they just swipe my PR card). Combing through credit card bills is a good idea, but I didn't have any for a part of that time (we're talking late teens, early twenties).
posted by limon at 10:30 AM on February 9, 2009

You could try calling them and asking about that.

Also, to add to googly's suggestions. When you bought your plane tickets to Europe, did you use a travel agency (online or brick and mortar)? If so, they might have records of your itineraries. Finally, to second Grither, in my non-professional opinion (based on experience with USCIS and other government agencies), the USCIS officials will not find it unusual or unreasonable if you are unable to provide absolutely accurate dates, if you indicate to them that you're providing approximate dates.
posted by epimorph at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2009

Your passport should still have dates of your Europe trips.

After that, for me the digital photos would be the best bet. If not your own then friends/family you visited. Then a search through my bank records to see when I used ATMs in a different country.

Diary? Blog? MySpace?
posted by Ookseer at 11:02 AM on February 9, 2009

Search your e-mail. Gmail is pretty much my second memory as of this point in my life.
posted by redsparkler at 11:59 AM on February 9, 2009

I'd suggest making a sincere best guess about the trips, and then writing "NOTE: I have made many short trips to Canada to visit family, usually through road crossings where my passport was not stamped, so I do not have formal records of these trips. What is listed here is to the best of my knowledge and recollection."

I would not bother with combing through credit card receipts and so on. Just a good faith effort at listing all of them you can recall, with the dates as best you can recall.

Alternately: Make an infopass appointment with the NYC field office to speak with an officer about the issue. They will probably tell you something to the effect of the above.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2009

You could try calling them and asking about that.

Don't bother. Worse than useless, and INFOPASS will probably be easier in any case.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:03 PM on February 9, 2009

You could try calling them and asking about that.

Don't bother. Worse than useless, and INFOPASS will probably be easier in any case.

Yeah, I don't really see that as a viable solution either. Frankly, even if you dod a FOIA request, you are probably going to be a citizen before you would be granted a copy of your ADIS record.

The good faith effort should suffice, particularly if you back that up with any paper documentation you may have at all. Getting the stuff on the europe trips is where you may want to pour the majority of your efforts.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:30 PM on February 9, 2009

Shit, even that might not have all your trips if you sometimes got a bored/busy border agent who didn't bother to ask for ID or, if they took it, look at it or, if they looked at it, enter it into the system.

This was embarrassingly common at Port Huron, at least up until 1/07.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:12 PM on February 9, 2009

I agree that a good faith effort should be, uh, good enough. I know that it's good enough for the "foreign travel" portion of a U.S. security clearance application, so it ought to be good enough for the citizenship application, too. (The security clearance form specifically says you can write "many short trips to Canada or Mexico" and estimate the dates/number of trips if that is, in fact, the case.)
posted by Nothlit at 1:14 PM on February 9, 2009

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