You are here:

Immigration Issues/Applying for citizenship


I was granted US residency 23 yrs ago based on marriage to a US citizen (we're still married). I now want to apply for citizenship but my case is complicated because I've spent a lot of time outside the US in the past 10 yrs or so.
That's when my husband was hired as a contractor for a US security firm on posts overseas.  His work is on an "unaccompanied status" and for durations of 1 yr. or more but I travel to visit him for different periods of time -from 30 dys to 6 mths -but never more than a year- and while still maintaining residence in the US.
First question: since my husbands is a third-party contractor for the State Dept. will that qualify me for a waiver to the phyisical presence requirements?
Second question: If I don't qualify for the waiver, does the time I spent in the US without traveling (7 yrs) since first receiving the Permanent Residency, count for anything?
Or do they start counting absences 3 yrs back since the date of filing for citizenship application?
I appreciate your time and look forward to your answer.

Eileen Chun-Fruto, Los Angeles immigration attorney writes:

Thank you for your questions.

As a matter of background, it's important to note that an absence of 6 months to a year raises a presumption that your residency in the US has been interrupted.  Meaning that even if you are eligible for naturalization, it can be deemed that you have 'abandoned" your permanent residency in the US and the USCIS can revoke your greencard.  It is a draconian rule.  

You qualify for a waiver in limited circumstances if your spouse works for the US government, a public international organization in which the US participates by treaty, or by a religious organization participating in missionary work.  I don't think that it's enough that your husband works for a contractor to DOS.

Second question:  the first 7 years of residency (without traveling) does not count per se.

Absences are counted within the last 5 years, but the naturalization form asks for all travel (of 24 hours or more outside the US) since becoming a US resident, so they will have your complete record before them.

I have seen USCIS (in naturalization interviews, where I've been counsel) sit down with a calculator and add up the amount of time a person has been absent.  Your case can be delayed and I'm almost positive that it undergo a lot of review.

I suggest you find competent immigration representation.  This may not just be about being ineligible for naturalization, it could mean defending your greencard altogether.  I had an instance of this just last October 2008 and we have just (successfully) resolved the issue.

Good luck and feel free to follow up with me with additional concerns or if you require further assistance.

Eileen Chun-Fruto

Immigration Issues

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Eileen Chun-Fruto


I can answer any employment-based immigration question including questions about PERM labor certifications, H-1B skilled workers, L-1A multinational managers or executives and L-1B specialized knowledge, R-1 and I-360 religious workers, investor cases (E Treaty Trader and E Treaty Investors and EB-5 "million dollar investors") and O-1 extraordinary ability cases. I can also answer any questions regarding family-based immigration, such as adoptions, waiver cases, consular processing (using foreign consulates to enter as an immigrant), marriage and fiance/fiancee cases, 245(i) cases, VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act), battered spouses, and Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).


I have over 12 years of experience in business and family immigration. I was a former law clerk for the Executive Officer for Immigration Review (the immigration courts) in San Francisco and I current serve as the California Service Center's (CSC) liaison on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. I represent individuals and corporations alike, ranging from professionals in the high tech, science, liberal arts fields. I have a special niche in working with start-up companies and individuals with more complex immigration issues.

Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Executive Committee on Immigration

J.D., University of California at Davis - King Hall School of Law (1997) B.A., University of California at Irvine, cum laude (1994)

Awards and Honors
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008: Selected to Southern California Rising Star - Super Lawyers List (an honor shared by no more than 2.5% of the attorneys practicing in the entire Southern California region) Faculty/Moderator on various AILA and LACBA continuing legal education seminars in the following topics: H-1B, O-1, religious workers, business immigration visas

Past/Present Clients
My typical business clients can range from a start-up company, established engineering and software research and development companies, manufacturing, trade and distribution companies, public and private schools, and religious organizations. Family clients include spouses, parent-child petitions, siblings, naturalization, and most especially, representation of abandoned and neglected children viewed as orphans under the immigration law. I have represented many clients who relied on special provisions of the immigration law to preserve or "grandfather" benefits to family members in limited (and complicated) circumstances, to avoid re-application fees and longer waiting times.

©2017 All rights reserved.