N-400. Request for evidence after interview. 4 year + 1 day rule – my experience. (2023)

N-400. Request for evidence after interview. 4 year + 1 day rule – my experience.

Hello Everyone!

I've just had my naturalization interview. While I passed the civics test, I ran into issues with the interview portion of it when it came to reviewing the trips I took within the last 5 years (my application was based on 5-year continuous residence). The trip that raised their concern was the one I took in 2012, I was away for more than 6 months but less than a year (April 2012 – Jan 2013). While being away I had mandatory job placement, temporary contract which I had to fulfill – this is the legal obligation for graduates that get free higher education in my country. So, I was technically employed, which I disclosed during the interview (the officer specifically asked about that).

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After the interview I left without a definitive response.
A week later I got a letter via mail - requesting to provide proof of continuous residence and physical presence, they attached questionnaire related to that matter as well.


Now about 4 year+1 day rule.

My concern was filing initial paperwork too early. I knew the safest way would be to do that 5 years minus 90 days from the time I returned from my last long trip (from Jan 2013) meaning Sept 2017.
I wish I had done that. But instead I started to do research on 4 year and 1 day rule and whether it is applicable for trips of more than 6 months but less than 1 year.
I read a lot of forums with different opinions on that matter and finally decided to call USCIS line to get a definitive answer, talked to 2 different agents (still have their names and employee #s written down) and was advised that this rule was indeed applicable in my scenario (after returning in Jan 2013, I was at 4 years and 5 months at the time of sending in N-400 form).

As I mentioned above, the interview did not go as planned.
Having looked at my cover letter, the immigration officer just stated that 4 year and 1 day rule only applied if the application was declined due to the beak in residence, and sometimes the policies could be confusing (I guess referring to the fact that 2 different USCIS agents advised me otherwise); and that they would need more time to look into my trips.

After I received the notice requesting further evidence a week later, I just couldn’t let go and called USCIS again asking for clarification, was transferred to an escalated line, spoke to an immigration officer who told me that a year ago I might have talked to tier 1 agent who might not be aware of all the procedures; and that I should have filed N400 at 4 years minus 90 days mark. When I asked her about the 4 year and 1 day rule in general, she had no idea what I was referring to at all (imagine that!!!) and bottom line they were not assuming any responsibility for any misinformation, if I get denied I can file an appeal.

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Hope this experience helps someone else not to make the same mistake and not to rely blindly on information you get from USCIS customer service.

Now back to the best way to get out of this (if it is even possible).
This is where I need help. I am trying to make sense of the dates that are mentioned as a starting point of their calculations for continuous residence.

1st Question.
I have mailed form N-400 June 30th 2017.
The cover letter I got from USCIS is requesting proof or residence and list of all trips during statutory period - starting from August 7th 2012 to PRESENT.
Why August 7th 2012? It is not exactly 5 years from the date of filing N400 Form. Any ideas?

Along with the cover letter, I got separate questionnaire where they request to list all absences from August 4th 2010 (and whether I was employed outside of the U.S. at that time) - verbatim "Please list any absence(s) from the U.S. for continuous periods of between six(6) months and one(1) year from which you returned during your naturalization statutory - the period from August 4, 2010 to the present time".
Why 2010? The statutory period is 5 years, not 8 years! To me it seems like a typo, and it should match the cover letter to say August 7, 2012 to PRESENT.
And if it is a typo, how can I point it out nicely? I don't really want to dig that deep, into 2010.

2nd Question.

What is the best strategy moving forward?

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a/ I should be consistent and still try to “push” 4 year and 1 day exception (on August 7 2012 I was in the middle of my last long trip) or it doesn't make any sense at all in the light of the latest news that most probably I was misinformed (even though I have employee # of USCIS agent who I talked to a year ago)?


b/ I should forget about 4 year and 1 day exception.

  • I am pointing out that the questionnaire has a typo and the statutory period begins August 7 2012 (to match the cover letter they sent me) instead of August 4 2010.
  • Then I am filling out the questionnaire indicating my last long trip there (April 2012 – Jan 2013), but pointing out that the portion of it that counts towards statutory period is less than 6 months (August 7 2012 – Jan 30 2013).
  • As far as my employment during that trip, I am letting them know that my job obligation was over by the end of June 2012 (my contract was over), so technically I wasn’t employed between August 7 2012 – Jan 30 2013 - dates, that count toward statutory period.
  • I am trying to proof that my residence wasn’t broken - by providing evidence of ties I had in US such as the same employer I was working for, open bank accounts, tax returns I filed every year. My husband (at that time my boyfriend) who is a US citizen (was born in U.S.) was in the US during that time, and visited me in 2010 and 2011 - can that be presented as a tie as well (I could attach copies of his passport with visas and stamps indicating crossing the border when he visited me)?

And, of course, I would provide detailed explanation in my cover letter as well.


c/ Again I should forget about 4 year and 1 day exception.

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  • I am pointing out that the questionnaire has a typo and the statutory period begins August 7 2012 (to match the cover letter they sent me) instead of August 4 2010.
  • I am leaving the questionnaire blank (put N/A under 6+ months trips).
  • I am explaining in my cover letter that dates of my trip that counted toward statutory period (from August 7 2012 to Jan 30 2013) were less than 6 months, even though the trip itself was longer, but the rest of it was outside of statutory period.
  • Again provide evidence of ties I had in US (the last part of b/ strategy).

With this last strategy, I wouldn’t have to get into why I had to work outside of the U.S., but I don’t want them to accuse me of hiding information (since they asked me about employment during the interview) and don’t meet good moral character standards.

3rd Question.
My green card expires mid-July 2017.

I didn’t have to officially renew it (since it did not expire for over a year from the application date) and already scheduled Infopass appointment to get temporary stamp into my passport.

If I get denied for the reason of filing too early (did not accumulate 5-year continuous residency preceding the application date), there is no waiting time before I can re-apply (since it is taking so long for the process, at this moment I already have 5 continuous years accumulated), is it correct?

And would I need to apply for official renewal of the Green Card as well (temporary stamp wouldn’t do any good) - USCIS agent told me it was recommended, and I could do both paperworks simultaneously. Does anyone have any information on that?

I hope for your advice and I can clarify any “grey” areas if you need any other info. Thank you in advance.

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