“I hereby declare by oath… that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America…:” – this is a portion of the oath of allegiance you take when you become a U.S. Citizen. There are many benefits to becoming a U.S. Citizen such as voting, serving as a juror, eligibility for certain federal jobs, eligibility for certain federal medical benefits, priority for immigration visa petitions filed for family members, travel abroad for long periods of time, and most importantly cannot be deported or removed from the United States. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies for U.S. Citizenship is approved. There are many reasons under the immigration laws that an immigration officer may deny an application for U.S. Citizenship. Below are the top five (5) reasons for U.S. Citizenship denial:
(1) Lack 3/5 years of Continuous Physical Presence in the U.S.: One of the requirements for U.S. Citizenship is that you must physically reside in the U.S. for five (5) years or three (3) years (if married and living with a U.S. Citizen spouse) before you submitted the application. Erroneously, some applicants for U.S. Citizenship think once they had their green card or lawful permanent residence for five (5) years or three (3) years then they meet this requirement. However, you need to accumulate the five (5) years or three (3) years of physical presence while in the U.S. and trips abroad will be deducted from the five (5) years or three (3) years requirement. Also, if you took a trip outside the U.S. that lasted more than six months then you void all your physical presence previously accumulated in the U.S. and upon your return to the U.S., you will have to start all over to accumulate five (5) years or three (3) years of physical presence in the U.S.
(2) Lack Good Moral Character: Another requirement for U.S. Citizenship is demonstrating that the applicant possessed good moral character during the past five (5) years or three (3) years before submitting the application. The following acts are considered bad moral character and will result in a denial of your application: child support arrearages, owing tax to the Internal Revenue Service, an arrest (even if charges dismissed or dropped), a conviction, certain traffic violations, failure to register for selective service, voting or registering to vote in the U.S., false claim to U.S. Citizenship, etc.
(3) Misrepresentation to the Interviewing Officer: As part of the U.S. Citizenship application process, the applicant will be interviewed approximately three (3) months after submitting their application. During the interview, the officer will administer the English & U.S. history test, review the information on the application with the applicant, and review the applicant’s immigration history as reflected in his/her file. If the applicant lies to the officer or misrepresents any facts regarding his/her case, the officer may deny the U.S. Citizenship application based on misrepresentation.
(4) Fail English Test or U.S. History Test: The applicant will have to read and write a sentence in English (certain exceptions apply for applicants over age 50 and age 55) and orally take a ten (10) question test on U.S. History. If the applicant fails the English and/or U.S. History test, then they will have another opportunity to take the test again in ninety (90) days. So, the applicant is given two opportunities to pass the English and U.S. History test.
(5) Lack of Residency in the State: An applicant must reside in the State where he/she is claiming residence at least three (3) months before applying for U.S. Citizenship. An officer will look at the applicant’s driver’s license to ensure he/she has lived in the State (i.e., New York, Florida, California, etc.) three (3) months before submitting the U.S. Citizenship application.
Recently, immigration expanded the U.S. Citizenship application from ten (10) pages to twenty-one (21) pages – collecting more information on the applicant and using this information for a possible denial. It is in your best interest to seek an advice of an immigration lawyer to confirm you meet ALL the requirements for U.S. Citizenship before your submit an application.
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