US Citizenship/ N400 Early Filing Question
September 21, 2020 8:08 AM   Subscribe

I've had a green card since 2013. In 2015 I left the US for 6 months, returning Dec 1st - so I'll have been in the US continually for 5 years this Dec. I'd like apply for citizenship, and file early, because the application cost is almost doubling on Oct 2nd, but I can't find a field in the N400 form which allows me to specify my file date as Dec 1st 2020. How do I say, "I'm filing now, but I'm not eligible until Dec 1st" - or am I missing something?
posted by my log does not judge to Law & Government (7 answers total)
You may file Form N-400 up to 90 calendar days before you complete your permanent residence requirement, see the USCIS Early Filing Calculator.
posted by RichardP at 8:38 AM on September 21

Thanks RichardP - my concern is how I define my return date. The calculator site gives the example of applying having held your green card for 5 years - i.e. it will be clear that when the eligibility date will be if filing early. In my case that eligibility date is not clear (the date is my return to the US) so I'm concerned that if I apply, say, today - without being able to specify my Dec 1st 2015 return - that it will look like I'm filing now, which will mean I won't have been in the US for 5 years. Does that make sense? This is a long application process, so I'm trying to get my ducks lined up so that I won't have any issues down the line.
posted by my log does not judge at 8:51 AM on September 21

You're fine. There is no requirement to become a citizen (you can stay a PR forever if you want) and therefore the 5-years since your became one is just the earliest filing date.

In Part 9 of the N400 you will state:

Part 9. Time Outside the United States
Item Number 1. Provide the total number of days (24 hours or longer) you spent outside the United States during the last 5 years.

Item Number 2. Provide the total number of trips (24 hours or longer) you have taken outside the United States during the last 5 years.

Item Number 3. Provide information for every trip (24 hours or longer) you have taken outside the United States during the last 5 years. Start with your most recent trip and work backwards.

So they'll see that you meet the physical presence requirement there, even with the 90-day early window, right?
posted by atlantica at 11:37 AM on September 21

Also take a look on Visa Journey - there's usually always someone who's been in the same position before.
posted by atlantica at 11:43 AM on September 21

Hmm, actually, sorry, my previous answer may not be the whole story. There is a difference in physical presence and continuous residence, and apparently it may be taken to the date of filing. You might want to wait until December.
posted by atlantica at 12:21 PM on September 21

If your field office is within a reasonable shooting distance and you can get one in time, this looks like a job for INFOPASS! Stronger than bureaucratic hurdles! More informative than Silent E!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:13 PM on September 21

Thanks GCU Sweet and Full of Grace! It turns out that you can no longer make field office appointments online, but this search took to me to a location where I found a phone number, and I was able to talk to an agent who advised me to go ahead and submit.
posted by my log does not judge at 2:53 PM on September 21

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