Physical Presence, as it pertains to immigration matters, refers to the time a naturalization applicant is physically present in the United States, beginning the day he or she obtained lawful permanent resident status up until the date of filing for naturalization.
To satisfy the physical presence requirement, you must be physically present in the U.S. for 18 months within the 3 years statutory period when you obtained your green card through marriage. If you obtained your green card through a method other than marriage, you are required to be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months within the 5 years statutory period.
Evidence for Physical Presence
Documentation for physical presence must be submitted as supporting evidence for your naturalization application. There are several ways to prove physical presence which include:
- Passport stamps and Form I-94 with entry and exit records
- Academic transcripts
- Employment records and social security statements
- Medical records
- Rental receipts
- Paychecks and W2s
Physical Presence and Continuous Residence
Physical presence and continuous residence are both required to be eligible to naturalize. Though they sound similar, they are two separate requirements and must each be met individually.
Continuous residence means the applicant's residence must be in the United States for the required time. Unlike physical presence, which counts the actual days you are physically in the U.S., continuous residence includes days you were outside the U.S., as long as the total time you were outside the U.S. was less than 6 months.
For more clarification on continuous residence, see USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 12 - Citizenship and Naturalization, Part D - General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3 - Continuous Residence.