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How Do I Accurately Calculate My Days in the U.S. to Naturalize?

In order to make sure you are eligible to naturalize, you must spend the minimum required period of time to meet the physical presence test. If you are married to a US citizen, the required minimum days in the U.S. is half of the three year statutory period. In contrast, if you are applying to naturalize on your own, then the statutory period is five years and you must show you have spent half of those five years physically present in the U.S.

The key unit of measurement to calculate time spent in the US. is the day – and not a week or month, for example. You’ll want to make sure you are calculating “days” correctly and so the first thing to keep in mind is that a “day” according to USCIS is a full twenty four hour period. Therefore if you have spent less than 24 hours outside the U.S., that does not count as a “day” for your N400 form. In practice, this means that the day you leave the U.S. for a trip – and the day you return to the U.S. from your trip – do not count as “days” outside the U.S. This can help you ensure that you meet the physical presence test when you are getting close to the 50% mark of days spent outside the U.S.

To make sure you are correctly calculating the exact number of days spent outside the U.S., you do not want to rely upon your memory alone. You should pull out a few key documents:  your passport with its entry and exit stamps, and your travel history document which is typically saved for you online on the CBP website. Look up “CBP I-94”or   https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ online and you will be brought to the official CBP website where you can enter your name, birthdate and passport number to retrieve a copy of your I-94 and travel history. You will use this travel history information to accurately fill out your N400.

In addition to pulling direct information from your passport and CBP travel history, you will not want to rely upon rough calculations of how many days are in a particular month. Remember that there is variety amongst months and some months have more days than others. To get the exact number of days you have spent outside the U.S., use an online internet calculator (such as “Time and Date Calculator”) to type in the exact dates you have left and arrived from the U.S.  The results can be surprising as you can often be several days off in your mental calculations, which can result in a denial for your citizenship application.

Finally, if you have spent a fair amount of time outside the U.S., it can be a good idea to apply online for citizenship because the date calculations are built in. Not only does the system prevent you from applying too early before you are eligible, but it will calculate the exact number of days you have been outside the U.S. once you plug in the numbers into their online N400. If you don’t qualify for the physical presence test, USCIS will preemptively let you know and therefore save you some time and money.

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