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How to Calculate a Day for Immigration Purposes

Many immigrants and visitors to the United States are often unsure how USCIS defines a day. Although it may not seem like a major issue, miscalculating days either within or out of the United States can have major consequences for foreign nationals either immigrating to or visiting the U.S. It is helpful to divide this topic into two categories: nonimmigrant and immigrant purposes.
Nonimmigrant purposes
Nonimmigrants refer to people who do not wish to reside and work permanently within the United States. Some examples of this include foreign nationals visiting the United States as tourists or foreign nationals coming to the United States to work on a temporary visa. For nonimmigrant purposes, any traditional 24-hour period in which the foreign national spends even one hour in the United States is considered by USCIS to be one day. 
This is something important to keep in mind, especially when making travel arrangements. For example, if a foreign national’s flight leaves early in the morning one day after the expiration of a visa, the foreign national is technically not authorized to be in the United States. In the same vein, foreign nationals run the risk of facing difficulties entering or traveling to the United States if they are set to reach the U.S. before the day their visa is set to become valid, even if it is only a matter of hours. Foreign nationals who wish to extend their stay may be granted an extension by USCIS, if eligible.
Immigrant purposes
Immigrant purposes refer to when a foreign national is applying to live permanently within the United States. This category encompasses both applying for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status, more commonly referred to as a green card, and citizenship through naturalization. 
The same rule for nonimmigrant purposes applies to immigrant purposes. For example, if a foreign national departs the U.S. for Canada and returns the same day, USCIS considers that as a day within the United States. USCIS considers departure dates from the U.S. and arrival dates to the U.S. as full days in the United States for naturalization purposes. 
Maintaining record of how many days are spent outside of the U.S. when applying for a green card or naturalization is crucial, since there are requirements for how long a foreign national applying for status must reside within the country. 
If you have questions, feel free to contact Berardi Immigration Law! Our attorneys can assist you with this and any additional immigration concerns.