State of Legal Residency Requirement?

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Andrew Howe

New Member
Oct 30, 2023
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Wondering if anybody has any advice on the issue I'm facing:

I applied to schools with no designation for legal state of residence, as I did not meet the legal criteria for claiming residence in any of the states I have been associated with. I was recently contacted by one of the admissions committees that I need to change my AMCAS to have a legal state of residence. I tried explaining that I don't have one, because I don't meet the 183-day criterion, but they suggested I change my AMCAS to be the state that I am most associated with, and they can't continue to process my application until then.

I don't know what to do because I don't have the official requirements to claim residence. I am a US citizen, have a DL from one state, and went to college & and have a job in another state, but I don't meet the criteria anywhere. I don't own a home or pay rent, I have been between 4 different states at pretty much balance. I pay taxes in the state where my job is. I assume most people have not been as scrupulous in their claim of legal residence, but at this point even if I were to put the state of my DL, I face another dilemma.

If I update my AMCAS, I'm worried that when schools are sent a new primary, I would be sent to the bottom of the list as if I just submitted my secondary today. Does anybody have advice in regards to this?

An additional question I have is whether I should even be required to have a state of legal residence. I don't want to modify my AMCAS primary unless it's necessary, and this one school is the only school which has brought it up to me. Furthermore, by legal standards I think it would be wrong to say I am a resident of the state that I choose.

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Are you registered to vote? In what state do you vote? You can't vote in a state unless you are a resident there.

I was in your situation at one time in a "tri-state" area. Didn't have a legal lease, worked & paid taxes in one state but held on to the license in the other state because I didn't drive in my new state.

I wouldn't worry about being "at the bottom" if you up-date the primary. AMCAS does these updates overnight, electronically, and the end users in the adcom offices might not even know or notice unless they are running programs to snare applicants from state X so as to fast track them or whatever that one school is doing.
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Where you vote / the state of your drivers license is what I would go with. That's your legal residence until you establish residency somewhere else.

There's no rule with AMCAS that says your legal residency can't change as you move through the process. In your case, you will at some point establish legal residence wherever your new job is. Usually, you have a month (or less) of living in a new state to change over your DL and establish residency.

Where you went to college doesn't factor into things, since you're not (generally) considered a permanent resident of that state while enrolled in undergraduate education.
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I've actually registered to vote different times; first, it was in the state I got my DL. Second, it was in the state I was in college. I then transferred to a 3rd state.

I don't think I can get around some of the legal requirements, even with voter registration. I know claiming state residence could advantage me at some schools, but I would rather not if I don't have to, but I will if there's no chance of it hurting me. So if they are looking at primary / secondary applications in order of submission, a change in the legal state of residence won't change my position in each school specific queue, you think?
I feel like you're misunderstanding legal residency. Where you're registered to vote is generally where you're legally a resident.

It sounds like you're confusing residency for tax purposes (183 days) with legally being a resident of a state (i.e., living and voting in that state).
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You need to put the state where you are a legal resident. This is where you sleep. Generally you need to change your DL after 30-60 days in a state.

Residency for tuition purposes is different.
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Yes, don't confuse eligibility for tuition breaks with legal residency. You can be a legal resident but not eligible for tuition breaks or special consideration for admission. They're two different things.
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