As a naturalized citizen of the United States, you get granted privileges and rights that even legal residents do not get to enjoy. However, it is not easy to apply for naturalization, and you must meet several requirements before even considering it.
The continuous residence requirement is just one of these. But exactly what is it, and what does it mean for you?
Showing proof of residency
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services discusses requirements for continuous residence. In its most basic form, this means that you need to live within the U.S. borders and spend a certain portion of time here before applying for naturalization.
First, you must show that you have held continuous residence in the country for anywhere from 3 to 5 years. The amount of time you need depends on your status upon filing. Qualifications can include homeownership or the renting of an apartment that you resided in for a specific amount of time.
Proving physical presence
You must also show physical presence. Of the last 3 years you have held residence in the country, you must have spent at least 18 of those months in the country. If you are not a qualified spouse then you must show 5 years of continuous residence with 30 of those months demonstrating proof of physical presence.
This does not mean you cannot leave the United States at all for 3 to 5 years. It simply means you should keep your trips short and be sure that you meet the required amount of time. Some exceptions apply, too, such as traveling abroad for a job depending on who you work for.