The Top 10 Reasons US Citizenship is Denied!

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The Top 10 Reasons US Citizenship is Denied!

Reason 1

What are the top 10 reasons that you might get denied your US citizenship? I'm going to start with some of the more common reasons, then get into some of the more unexpected ones that may get you caught.

Perhaps the most common reason for failing to get citizenship is failing the citizenship test. As you probably already know, you must pass both an English and a civics exam in order to naturalize. During the civics test, you will answer up to 10 questions on US history, politics, and US government, and you must get at least six right to pass this test. During the English portion of this test, you will be asked to read out loud one sentence and then write down a different sentence.

Your spoken English will also be tested by the USCIS officer during the course of the interview, when they ask you questions about your N-400 application and things related to this application. If you fail to pass the English or civics test, you will be given a second chance at this without having to reapply.

And this second exam will be given to you within the first 60 to 90 days after your initial interview. However, if you do happen to fail the second time as well, your citizenship application will be denied in its entirety and you will have to start over from scratch. This means that you would have to pay the filing fee a separate time and submit a whole new application if you do not happen to pass the English or civics test on the second try. I recommend that you take the time to study properly and shore up on your English skills before even trying to apply.

And if you happen to need to apply a second time, then definitely this would be your sign to make sure that you take the time to study properly before making the second application. Let me know in the comments if you'd like me to do a video on the citizenship test itself and I can go into more detail there.

Reason 2

Another common reason why people get denied their citizenship is because they miss the interview in its entirety.

If you happen to miss your interview the first time, don't worry because USCIS will usually automatically reschedule you for another interview date, unlike if you miss your interview for your I-485 exam, which would cause you to get an automatic denial. Your new appointment will be given to you within the first 60 to 90 days after the initial interview date. But if you miss the second time, then there may be problems to your application and you may get denied in its entirety. If you miss your second interview date, you better have a really really good reason for missing it.

A lot of times people may miss both the first and second interview because they never got the notice in the first place. And if this is the case, then you may have the option to ask for a reopening of your case. However, my opinion is that sometimes it's just easier to make a second filing and eat that application fee.

You can also set up an online account with USCIS and this would actually give you important information about your interview date even if you fail to receive your paper notices. So make sure that if you do happen to set up an online account for your N-400, make sure you check it regularly as well in case you don't get your paper notifications.

Reason 3

The next most common reason why people get denied for their citizenship is because of applying too early before they are eligible. Most green card holders must wait a minimum of five years after receiving their U.S. residency before they can apply for U.S. citizenship. The exception to this rule is for residents who have been married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years prior to making their application. And this applies whether or not you received your green card through marriage or through some other way.

In a case like this, if you have been married and living physically with your U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years after receiving your residency, then you would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after only three years. Regardless of whether you have to wait five years or three years to submit your application, you can usually submit your application 90 days before you reach your five or your three year mark. However, you cannot become a U.S. citizen until you reach this mark.

If you file your application even one day before achieving the three or the five year rule, then your application will be denied or rejected. And if USCIS has already cashed your filing fee check, you would not get that back and you would have to pay a second time for your second application. So make sure you file your case on time.

There is actually a early filing calculator on the website that you can use to calculate the appropriate date on which you can send your application.

Reason 4

Another common reason why citizenship applications get denied is because of failure to meet the residency rules requirement. There are rules put in place to make sure that when you receive your residency, you actually live in the U.S. for prescribed periods of time so that you are a part of American society.

One is called the physical presence requirement and it says that you have to be in the U.S. at least 50% of the time during your applicable time period of either three years or five years before applying. The other is called the continuous residence rule and it says that you cannot have any breaks in the continuity of your residency. And generally speaking, any trips outside of the U.S. of more than 180 days can be considered to be a break in the continuity of your residency.

If you fail to meet either of these requirements, your application can be denied and you would need to wait until you can fulfill both of these requirements of continuous residency and the physical presence requirement before you can submit your application again. And there is a state residency requirement rule that states that you must have lived in the state where you submit your application for at least 90 days prior to making that submission in order to qualify. Otherwise, your application can also be denied.

Reason 5

The next common source of denials for citizenship cannot just cause your N-400 to get denied but can also in some cases cause your residency itself to get revoked. You may end up having your green card taken away and be put into removal proceedings and that's because of certain criminal convictions that you may have. You must disclose any arrests, convictions, charges, or citations on your application even if the case was dismissed, even if it happened more than five years ago, and even if you only paid a fine.

So anytime you have had a negative interaction with a law enforcement officer or agency, you should be disclosing this on your N-400 application. Now just because you have something to report doesn't mean that you'll necessarily be denied your citizenship. However, there are certain crimes that could automatically disqualify you from citizenship which means that USCIS would have no discretion and would have no choice but to deny your application. But there are other situations where USCIS officials can use their discretion to approve your case. Crimes that would automatically disqualify you from citizenship include serious convictions of murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, drug trafficking, sexual abuse of a minor, and certain forms of theft.

If you are convicted and USCIS has knowledge of this, you would actually not just have your application denied but you can be put into removal proceedings for these sorts of convictions. However, lesser crimes such as prostitution, DUIs, or certain simple assaults may not disqualify you from citizenship altogether. However, it could have a negative bearing on your good moral character which is a requirement to naturalize.

If certain convictions happen within the time period prior to application during that three or five year rule period, then you may have to wait until the time passes to make an application. However, please keep in mind that the immigration officer who interviews you and decides your case will have discretion to consider all arrests even if they happened outside of the three or five year period.

So if you have had a conviction in your past at any time, you should hire an immigration lawyer to analyze your case and help you make your arguments.

Coming up, I'm going to share the most unexpected ways that your citizenship application can be denied but I'd like to let you know that my name is Moumita Rahman and I have been practicing immigration law for the past 14 years.

If you would like my help on your immigration case, call 212-248-7907 to make an appointment.

I'm based in New York but I work with clients all over the U.S.

Reason 6

The next big reason why clients may get denied for their naturalization is because they have a lack of good moral character. The term good moral character is not very easily defined but basically it boils down to whether or not the immigration officer believes that you have the good moral character to be a decent society member in America. And if you have done something to indicate that you would not be a good member of society or that you would be a danger to society, then you may be found to lack good moral character. And good moral character behavior does not have to be criminal.

Some examples of non-criminal behavior that can show a lack of good moral character include adultery, failing to pay your taxes, failing to pay your child support, lying, or having an alcohol addiction. The bad news is that sometimes these sorts of behaviors on your record can cause you to be disqualified from naturalization.

So if you have anything on your record or on your character that may cause you to be found to have a lack of good moral character, take certain steps to try to beef up your good points to show that you do have good moral character, including making sure you get on the payment plan with the IRS for any bad taxes that are owed, get caught up on any outstanding child support or alimony payments, pay off outstanding traffic tickets, and have stable employment and make sure you file your taxes.

These things can demonstrate to USCIS that you are serious about having good moral character and in being a proper contributing member of society.

Reason 7

The next reason for denial can be if you have ever lied, omitted information, or made misrepresentations, or committed fraud when applying for any immigration benefit, especially if you never disclosed these things during your green card process and if you never received waivers for them. These are considered to be some of the more serious immigration violations that you can commit and sometimes not only can they cause your naturalization application to be denied but they may even cause you to be placed into removal proceedings.

Now you're obviously not going to get deported for innocent and simple mistakes such as making a typo or getting a date wrong or failing to disclose one place of employment. However, if you fail to disclose something that is material then that may very well be considered to be misrepresentation or fraud depending on the circumstances and can call into question whether you should have received residency in the first place. Sometimes you can be given a chance to rectify the situation and fix a timeline.

However, in other instances if this sort of omission or fraud or misrepresentation caused you to get issued a green card when you shouldn't have then you may be placed into removal proceedings as a result. Falsely claiming to be a U.S. citizen is another reason why you may get denied and this would not only cause your application to get denied but this would definitely cause you to be placed into removal proceedings. Make sure you are honest and upfront during your immigration process.

But more importantly,  if you know that you have made an error of judgment by submitting falsified or fake information or claiming to be a U.S. citizen consult with a lawyer before even making your application.

Reason 8

Another common reason why citizenship applications may get denied is because of failure to respond to requests for evidence. Sometimes you get a request for evidence before going to the interview but other times you may get a request for evidence after your interview on an N-14 request for evidence asking you for more information so that they can approve your application or asking you to prove how you are eligible for naturalization.

If you fail to send this information by the time indicated as a deadline then your application will get denied. So make sure you respond in a timely manner.

Reason 9

The next most common way your application can get denied is if you have a change in your marital status including one where you are no longer living with your spouse or if you have gotten divorced. Remember if you are utilizing the three-year rule where you can apply for U.S. citizenship in three instead of five years, you must show that not only are you still married to a U.S. citizen but that you have been living with that same U.S. citizen for the requisite period of time. If you happen to physically separate or get divorced, then you may not meet this rule and you may get denied as a result. And this requirement must continue to be met up until the time of the oath ceremony.

If you get divorced before taking your oath ceremony or you get separated, and you have been utilizing this three-year residency rule, then that means you would no longer be eligible to naturalize. Assuming your marriage was legitimate in the first place, you would need to wait an additional two years to make your application again.

Additionally, if you received a two-year residency card through marriage in the first place and you separate or get divorced before being approved for your I-751 Application to Remove Conditions and you fail to notify USCIS of this separation or divorce, then this may be discovered during your N-400 process and you may not only get denied, but you may even call into question your residency itself.

The short lifespan of your marriage may cause USCIS to not just feel suspicious about whether your marriage was bonafide in the first place, but it can also call into question the fact on whether you have committed a misrepresentation by failing to disclose to USCIS of your separation or divorce during the pendency of your I-751 application. For this you do have an affirmative obligation to inform USCIS that your circumstances have changed after filing the I-751.

So if this happens to you, be sure to update immigration about your marital status, including your residency status, so that you are not later accused of fraud and also be denied your application.

Reason 10

And finally if you are a man between ages 18 and 26 who was required to register for selective service in the U.S. and you failed to register for selective service aka the draft then you may also be denied citizenship. Failing to register can be considered a lack of good moral character.

However in some circumstances you can ask for this to be waived if there was not an intention to avoid the draft but rather if it happened as an accident or misunderstanding of the rules. If you are still between the ages 18 and 26 when you make your application for naturalization you can rectify this easily by just going ahead and registering but if you are past the age 31 then you may no longer be able to register and you will need to ask for an exemption of this rule.

BONUS Reason

Now as a bonus I want to share a new way that I'm seeing applications for citizenship get denied. This involves making an unintentional false claim to U.S. citizenship. Did you know that when you are obtaining a driver's license in some states you may automatically be registered to vote without your knowledge? Registering to vote before you are a U.S. citizen can be considered to be a false claim to U.S. citizenship. Therefore when you are obtaining a driver's license please be vigilant and look at the form that you are filling out.

Especially as these days a lot of these forms are done on iPads and electronically and it may be easy to misread.

And if you are actually given the option to register, make sure you say "no", because only a U.S. citizen can and should vote inside of a U.S. election whether it is federal or local. If it's an unintentional error then it can be easier to explain, and recently we were able to get a case approved because a client had unintentionally registered to vote. However this is actually a very difficult thing to get approved, so make sure you are vigilant when obtaining a driver's license and make sure you do not make an unintentional false claim to U.S. citizenship.

Assuming that none of these things that we've discussed would prevent you from becoming a U.S. citizen you still need to take one step after your interview and that is to take the oath ceremony. You don't want to go to your oath ceremony without understanding how to prepare and what your obligations are at that point.

I explain all these in my latest video which you won't want to miss.

I'll include a link to that here.

Click there to watch this video and I'll see you there.

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