Q: I’ve been a green card holder for five years now, but I have only spent about 30 months of the past five years here. One trip abroad was for a bit more than six months. Can I get U.S. citizenship? Someone told me that if I wait until five years passed since that long trip, I won’t have to reveal it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. I was abroad to take care of my sick mom.
Name withheld, New York
A: If you spent half the days in the last five years here, you can naturalize now. It is true that the current N-400, Application for Naturalization form requires that you report only five years travel. But if you apply now, you have a good chance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will approve your application.
Your having been abroad for more than six months creates a presumption that you abandoned your residence. But, if you had a good reason, such as taking care of your mom, you can use proof of her illness to rebut that presumption.
Q: I petitioned for permanent residence for my husband but then withdrew that petition. We had issues with our marriage but we have since reconciled. I want to petition for my husband again. Will that be particularly difficult? Do I need an attorney? I can’t afford that.
Chinonye, Houston, Texas
A: If you have strong proof of your relationship with your husband, you should have no problem petitioning for him. Still, try to get legal help. Find free or low-cost legal help at http://bit.ly/2fYRIZI.
Evidence that helps you prove yours is a “real” or bona fide marriage includes photos of you together on out-of-city trips or with family members, record of a joint bank or credit card account, letters from third parties addressed to you and your spouse at the same address, health and other insurance policies with the names of you and your spouse, personnel records showing your spouse as your emergency contact, and joint tax returns. You don’t need all of the items, but the more you can present, the better.