State residency in the USA, how far does this go?

Does being a resident of state X have any real legal weight?

I know they try to make you prove residency by utility bills when getting a state ID, but can they deny you one absolutely? Can people be essentially illegal aliens in some state?

I can remember vague stories of states “dumping” homeless or criminals in neighboring states, and being sent back?

How far does this go?

If you want state services and representation it counts a lot. However, if you’re living in the state, you are a resident. The problems occur when you live in more than one state, or falsely claim that you are living in one.

It also impacts on your tax status. I believe that many peripatetic military personnel choose Texas as a home state for tax reasons.

Actual maintenance of some sort of residency is minimal- I kept a California drivers licence current for three decades after returning to live in the UK.

When you are in the military, your state of residence really matters. You may change your state to whatever state you are stationed in, or let it remain the state of residence you had when you joined. Many people try to get stationed in Florida, change their residence to take advantage of the fact that Florida has no income tax. I was a New York resident throughout my time in the Navy because I did not have to pay NY income tax while residing outside the state, and when I bought a car overseas and registered it in New York, I didn’t pay any sales tax. I was registered to vote in my home district on Long Island, and I voted by absentee ballot. When I retired, I moved to Maryland, and since I was no longer in the military, I established MD residence, gave up my NY license, and registered to vote here.

ETA: I could have kept my New York license, but I would have had to travel back to NY to renew it. As Military, it was still good until 90 days after my retirement date even though it had expired at least 10 years earlier.

Your residency is very important for determining whether you can file a particular lawsuit in state or federal court.

No, the state where you live is just one of several indicia of your residency.

It’s pretty important if you want to run for Vice President.

It can also matter for college tuition and certain aspects of marriage, family, and estate law.

I was assuming sole residency. Would there be an exception?

IIRC my niece moved to a distant city and spent 6 months living with her boyfriend (parents were thrilled - not!) and working part time before she started the State U there in a January years ago - thus qualifying for the resident tution rate, about half the out-of-state rate.

So that’s one benefit, with a legal qualifying process.

Residency is usually defined by the particular state agency that requires residency. If you drive a car, you can be deemed a resident after only a month, and forced to get a new license, but you will still be deemed a non-resident by the state university for several years when the bursar collects your tuition fees. Your car insurance company might deem you to be a resident of the state in which you customarily park your car when you are sleeping.

Nearly all states have special rules that benefit military personnel.

If you’ve lived in Texas (for example to go to Basic Training) you can claim Texas as your home state, but you can’t just claim Texas if you haven’t resided there. However (and this may have changed) when you leave the service they will only ship your ‘stuff’ to the state you joined in or give you an equivalent of funding. If you live in NV when you get out, but you enlisted in California, you’ll get shipping funding to CA even if you claim Texas as your home of residence.

Once upon a time military personnel could keep their driver’s license even if it had expired if they were on active duty and assigned to another state. I think this loophole has since been closed.

It matters a lot when it comes to child custody. Almost every state has adopted a law that says the first custody judgement has to come from the state the child is a resident of, and that is defined as the last place they spent six months (unless they are under six months of age, I forget how they handle that). The reasoning is that it’s where the child’s records, babysitters, teachers, doctors, etc will be most available.

In some extreme cases (like my daughter’s mother, I’ll tell the story someday), it means a parent may be able to bounce around state to state with the child and no court will touch the case unless they go back to the state they’re technically a resident in.

It’s a bit more complicated than that. The “losing” state has a say in determining if the military member is merely attempting to dodge the tax man. The member has to have some actual physical connection with the "gaining"state, such as driver license, maintaining a residence along with paying property tax, or registering to vote in the “gaining” state.

Some states used to have extreme residency requirements for voting, but the Supreme Court struck them down in 1972.

For the purposes of litigation/jurisdiction, individuals can only have sole residency. That is, you are the resident of only one state. Unless you are a business organization, in which case you can have more than one residency. But if that’s the case, how are you reading this without eyeballs?

You are a resident of the state where you live and intend to stay. If you live in a state where you don’t intend to stay, you aren’t a resident of that state. The case in all the hornbooks is Mas v. Perry, 489 F. 2d 1396 (5th Cir. 1970). In that case, the court needed to determine a woman’s citizenship, and thus her residence. She was from Mississippi, but going to school in Louisiana. She’d been living in Louisiana for two years. The court found that she had no intent to stay there, so her residence was still Mississippi. They analyzed all kinds of stuff to determine what her intent was. There’s now a laundry list of things used to determine residency. The fact that you live in a state is important, but it isn’t the deciding factor.

Again, this is just for determining residency for the purposes of jurisdiction. For the purposes of college tuition, military recruitment, etc., there are other standards.

IIRC the maximum residency requirement a state can impose is 30 days. College students still run into problems trying to register to vote where their campus is instead of voting absentee. Also multi-year residency requirements are still in place for actually running for public office.

Interesting case. IANAL so my terminology, like sole residency may not be correct, but this is exactly what I was talking about:

Mrs. Mas had another home in another state. She may have said she didn’t intend to return to her home in Mississippi, but as the courts found she didn’t show the required intention to stay in Louisiana. So yes, as you say intent to stay is important. But I’ve moved across states before and immediately became a resident of the new state. Utility bills and the like had nothing to with it, I just didn’t have another home to return to in the other state, which is what I meant by sole residency. I also spent a year living in California while I still owned a home in New York. I had to state my intention to maintain my other residence in New York to the cops in California when they asked me why I hadn’t registered my car there yet. So your case demonstrates what I was saying. If you don’t have another home in another state somewhere, you are a resident there and you don’t need to prove it otherwise. I suppose that the exception could be your intent to move to another state, but I don’t see how a state could deny you benefits and services if they can’t identify some other locale that you could be a resident of. I’m not sure what the diversity stuff is about, but it sounds like the courts ruled out the idea that Mrs. Mas was also a resident of France based on her marriage to a French citizen, but it’s too lawyerly for me to interpret that.

According to the instructions on ATF form 4473 you are a resident if you intend to “make a home” in that state. There is no mention of how long you need to be there. Folks who spend winters in the south and summers in the north can be considered residents of two, or perhaps more States. This becomes a factor when purchasing firearms. So apparently some parts of the federal government have no issues with dual residency.

If you live in Minnesota 183 days of the year, you are a resident, and will be paying taxes here.

For ‘resident’ status of college tuition, there is usually a length of residency requirement before you can claim to be one, as well as other possible indicators. Like if you want to claim Minnesota residency for tuition purposes, but flash a Wisconsin driver’s license, they’re probably not going to call you a resident of MN.

Residency would also be important for Concealed Carry permits, medical marijuana cards (where permitted), hunting and fishing licenses and so forth.

Residency can be important if you choose to move abroad. By first establishing residency in a state that does not have a state income tax before you then make the overseas move you can save a lot of headaches by eliminating a lot of tax paperwork.

I moved from SC to TN before moving abroad. I have lots of family in TN and strong ties to that area. Even so, I have no intention to return to TN or SC if/when I move back to the States.