This has 2 questions that I felt were sufficiently related to be together in one posting. I have marked the questions in bold text.

According to the information here at uscis.gov, a person may qualify for US citizenship if:

  1. they have been a legal permanent resident for at least 3 years, AND
  2. they have been married to a US citizen for at least 3 years, AND
  3. during the last 3 years, they have not been out of the country for 18 months or more

Being that I have been a green card holder for about 20 years, been married to the same wonderful lady for about that time, and have lived in USA for the last 4+ years, I thought that I would go ahead and submit the N-400 application.

My question is about the fact that if I go back in time before the 4 years, I have sometimes been living abroad for more than a year. This was for work reasons (I had found work in another country) and during these times I lived abroad with my wife and we filed our US tax returns from abroad.

Although the N-400 form allows a person to select the basis for the qualification for naturalization, as shown below...

N-400 Information About Your Eligibility

...it later asks for the residential information for the last 5 years, as shown below:

N-400 Information About Your Residence

Here the question I wanted to ask is, does a person need to disclose residential information for 5 years even when applying on the basis of the 3-year rule?

The other, related, question is about this part from the "Document Checklist, Current Fees, Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet".

Workflow for determining eligibility

If I follow the workflow on the document, I eventually get to the point shown in above screen shot. That seems to give the impression that if I have ever been out of the country for more than 1 year without submitting form N-470, I would not be eligible for naturalization.

The question here is that, when a person is applying based on the 3-year rule, does the government care if a person lived 2 years abroad 15 years ago, without submitting the N-470 form?

  • How did you get to Attachment C? Jul 26, 2016 at 17:23
  • Hi @PatriciaShanahan, (sorry for a late reply) "Attachment C" is actually just a section on bottom of the second to the last page in that "Document Checklist, Current Fees, Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet" PDF linked in my question.
    – user4849
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:33
  • The point is that you are supposed to be following a flow from the start of the document. I tried following it applying what I understand of your situation, and never reached Attachment C. I think you may be jumping ahead to something that does not apply to you, rather than following the flow step-by-step. Aug 8, 2016 at 13:38
  • Hi @PatriciaShanahan, the flow from the start of the document to Attachment C is all on the first page of the document. In my case I have been a PR for 5 years or more, I just have not always lived in USA during that time. Thus I am directed to Attachment C by point #5 on the first page.
    – user4849
    Aug 8, 2016 at 13:44
  • Which specific question took you to Attachment C? Aug 8, 2016 at 14:24

1 Answer 1


If you qualify for both the 3-year rule and 5-year rule, it is always preferable to use the 5-year rule, because there won't need to be scrutiny about your marriage, etc.

Under the 5-year rule, if you broke continuous presence with a trip of more than 1 year, then you are eligible to apply for naturalization 4 years and 1 day after you come back from that trip. Since you have been back for 4+ years, you qualify under the 5-year rule.

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