There are few things that are more important to immigrants than earning their U.S. citizenship. Becoming a legal citizen offers many benefits including steady employment, housing, and insurance. Unfortunately, the process of obtaining legal citizenship in the U.S. isn’t considered a simple process. The Form N-400 application was once a four-page document. It now exceeds twenty pages, which clearly points to the process steadily becoming more complicated. If you choose to fill out Form N-400 alone, you may be vulnerable to mistakes. There are many reasons why your citizenship application can be denied. Here is a list of the top five most common reasons why citizenship applications are rejected.
- Criminal Background Check
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will have to conduct a criminal background check and a biometric screening. The biometric screening is a procedure that records your unique physical traits, such as fingerprints, height, weight, and other features. At this point, they will also process an extensive background check to see if you’ve been convicted of any crimes in the U.S. or other countries. It’s important to know that certain crimes are considered disqualifying for citizenship. For instance, if you’ve been convicted of violent crimes, murder, or an aggravated felony, your citizenship application can be denied. Other lesser crimes will not necessarily face denial. You might be asked to wait a number of years, typically three to five years, to reapply. The point of the criminal background check is to make sure you have strong moral standing within your community.
- False or Misleading Answers on Your Application
Everyone working within the immigration services department in the U.S. understands how important citizenship is. Because citizenship means so much to immigrants, some are willing to lie or provide misleading information in order to move their application forward. This can be a very unfortunate mistake. Your citizenship application can be denied if you falsify any information. If you ask any immigration lawyer, they will strongly recommend only providing honest answers on your application. It’s better to admit to a nonviolent crime than to lie and state that it never happened. The truth will eventually come to the surface and it’s better to deal with the truth than face a complete denial of your application.
- You Failed the Civics Test or English Proficiency Test
In your initial interview with the USCIS, you’ll be asked to take an English and/or a civics test. If you fail that test, you’ll be asked to come back for another test within 60-90 days of your first interview. If you’ve only failed one portion of the test, you’ll only be asked to retake that portion. If you fail both portions, you will be required to retake the entire test. Immigration lawyers and advocates will strongly recommend utilizing study tools or free prep courses to help you pass this test. Your citizenship application can be denied if you’re not properly prepared to take these tests. Failing the tests a second time will result in a denial of your application.
- Extensive Financial Struggles
It’s true that most Americans are in some form of debt. Between high mortgage prices, credit cards, and student loans, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have some form of financial difficulties. Having debt will not bar you from becoming a citizen. However, if you’re ignoring certain financial obligations that contribute to your moral character, your citizenship application can be denied. For instance, failure to pay taxes or child support are strong reasons to deny an application. If you believe that you have a financial obligation that could affect the way the department views your moral character, you must address it right away. By paying off the debt, paying fines, or fulfilling your tax obligations, you might be able to move your application forward.
- Failure to Meet Residence and Physical Presence Requirements
When you’re a citizenship applicant, the USCIS likes to know where you are and that you’re committed to the process. This means that you must maintain continuous residence and a physical presence during this time. If you’re moving from state to state or taking trips abroad, it’s possible that your citizenship application can be denied. Typically, you’ll have to prove that you have maintained a physical presence in the U.S. for 30 months before you can become a naturalized citizen. If you’re unsure of what this means or if you have further questions about your citizenship application, contact an immigration lawyer. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you understand why your application was denied or assist you through fixing certain issues with your application. Connect with an immigration lawyer today to learn more about becoming a U.S. citizen.