For many, citizenship is the final stage of the immigration journey. If you are working toward citizenship through naturalization, you may be using a list of steps to be certain you complete every phase of the process. Other information you may find extraordinarily helpful, however, is the list of reasons your application may be denied. If you are aware of common mistakes, you are much more likely to avoid them.
The following is an overview of 5 common reasons USCIS denies a person’s citizenship application.
1. Failing to register for the Selective Service
While military service in the U.S. is currently voluntary, Congress could reinstate the draft in a national emergency. Because all male U.S. citizens and immigrants aged 18-25 are required to register for Selective Service, you will not be eligible for citizenship if you have not registered.
2. Detection of fraud
When officers review your citizenship application, they will check for false information. If your application contains inaccuracies, USCIS may reject your application on grounds of fraud. They will also review your green card application to check for the same issue. Fraud may include failure to include an arrest on your application, even if charges were dropped.
Denial based on alleged fraud can occur whether or not you included inaccuracies intentionally. This is why your application requires extraordinary care and professional oversight.
3. A criminal history
Some crimes will result in a temporary or permanent bar to citizenship. Others may result in a hearing with an immigration court for deportation. USCIS will consider crimes committed in the U.S. and in other countries.
Crimes that do not automatically result in either of these consequences may still affect your good moral character. An officer assesses your moral character by weighing multiple factors—including your criminal history.
4. Severe financial issues
Like a criminal record, financial issues alone are not enough for a citizenship denial, but they are considered for good moral character. Failure to pay taxes, however, warrants a denial. If you develop a plan to pay your taxes and subsequently demonstrate this plan to USCIS, you may be able to avoid a denial.
Similarly, failure to pay child support may result in an application denial. If you have minor children but they do not live with you, you will likely need to demonstrate financial contributions—especially if a court order compels you to pay child support.
5. Failing the English and civics tests
During your citizenship interview, you will need to demonstrate basic English skills and knowledge of U.S. history and civics.
The English assessment consists of three elements: reading, writing, and speaking. The officer will assess your speaking ability through the way you understand the officer and answer their questions. You will then need to write one of three sentences and read aloud one of three sentences to demonstrate your reading and writing abilities. The civics test is a set of 10 questions, 6 of which you must answer correctly. The officer will randomly select the 10 questions from a bank of 100.
While the entire citizenship process requires preparation, nowhere is this truer than with the English and civics tests. Fortunately, USCIS (and a wide variety of other agencies) provides study materials so applicants can enter their interviews with confidence.
Alternatively, you may be eligible for a waiver of the testing requirements. You may be exempt from one or more portions of the test if you:
- Are 50 or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for 20 or more years
- Are 55 or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for 15 or more years
- Have a certain disability that prevents you from taking/passing the tests
If you are exempt, you must present evidence. To claim an exemption based on disability, for example, you would need to file Form N-648 and submit a certification signed by a medical professional or clinical psychologist.
Retain Qualified Counsel to Raise Your Chances of Success
Naturalization is an extensive process, and the smallest errors can result in a denial. If you are hoping to become a U.S. citizen, you deserve the highest quality of legal support, and our team at Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. is ready to help. We can guide you through the process and help you avoid common pitfalls. If necessary, we are fully prepared to advocate for you in a court of law.