If a naturalization applicant has stayed in the US only for 30 months + epsilon (e.g., a few days) over the past 5 years, is it likely to derail their application (assume all stays abroad were below 6 months) or is it a guaranteed naturalization acceptance, assuming the rest of the N-400 is ok?
According to the N-400 instructions (mirror), section "Required Evidence" Item 7E on page 12-13 (thanks to user102008 for pointing to it), issues seem to only potentially arise if one stay outside the US for over 180 days:
E. Trips Outside the United States. Bring evidence that you maintained your continuous residence in the United States if you have taken any trips outside the United States that lasted more than 6 months but less than 1 year.
You may submit documentation which includes, but is not limited to, evidence that during the absence:
You did not terminate your employment in the United States or work overseas;
Your immediate family remained in the United States; or
You retained full access to your place of residence in the United States. For example:
- An IRS tax return transcript or an IRS-certified tax return listing tax information relevant to your absence for the last 5 years (or 3 years if you are applying on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen);
- Rent or mortgage payments and pay statements;
- Bank, credit card, and loan statements showing regular transactions;
- Proof of car registration and insurance;
- A photocopy of your passport showing entry and exit stamps; or
- Any other document that shows you have not abandoned your residence in the United States
so I wonder whether trips below 180 days matter at all when going through the US naturalization process.