Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States grants you rights and privileges you do not have as a resident. Before you can even apply for citizenship, there are a number of requirements that you must fulfill.
According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, one of these is the continuous residence requirement. Essentially, this means that you must live in the U.S. and spend a significant portion of your time here before you can apply for naturalization.
Continuous residence requirements do not mean that you cannot make visits outside the United States. However, you should try to keep these relatively brief. To apply for naturalization as the qualified spouse of a U.S. citizen, you must be able to show that you have spent 18 months out of the last three years in the United States. If you are not a qualified spouse, you must be able to demonstrate your physical presence in the United States for 30 months out of the previous five years.
Physical presence in the United States is not enough. You must also demonstrate that you maintained a residence in the United States for three to five years, depending on your status, before applying. This may mean owning a house or renting an apartment that you then occupied for the required amount of time.
There are some exceptions to the rules about physical presence and continuous residence. Traveling abroad for your job might not hurt your eligibility. However, you must work for the U.S. government or certain other organizations. If you are serving overseas in the U.S. military, that is another possible exception to the continuous residence requirement.