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Common Reasons Citizenship Application is Denied

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Common Reasons Citizenship Application is Denied

Many foreigners who become lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) do so with the goal of becoming United States citizens. So, when it is time to apply for citizenship, many excitedly complete the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Unfortunately for some, however, their application for citizenship is denied. 

At the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates, we have experienced citizenship lawyers who help clients in the Chicago area whose applications for citizenship have been denied. We also assist clients with their initial applications to avoid denials whenever possible.

There are many reasons why an application for citizenship may be denied, but the following are the most common:

  1. Having A Criminal Record

The N-400, Application for Naturalization, contains a section where the applicant must disclose their criminal history, if they have one. If one has a criminal history, the immigration examiner will review this criminal record before deciding whether to approve the application or not. The examiner will also independently have on file all arrest and crime-related history obtained through the background checks done after the applicant’s fingerprints are taken. If the applicant has a criminal record, the application might be denied and sent to immigration court.


  1. Having Obtained Green Card Fraudulently

When reviewing the citizenship application, the immigration examiner will not just be looking at the content of the N-400 application, but they will also be reviewing the entire history of the applicant with the U.S. immigration system. For example, if the applicant obtained their green card through marriage, the examiner will review the record and ask the applicant questions about the marriage to make sure the marriage was not a sham. If they determine the marriage was a sham, then the application will be denied on that basis. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before submitting your application for citizenship.

  1. Lying on the Citizenship Application

The N-400 warns that any deceptive information or untruths on the application form will result in the application being denied. This is also what will happen if one is deceptive or tells lies during their interview. You must make sure that you are truthful in completing the application and, equally importantly, you must make sure that your application is error-free and accurate. It may seem rather routine to do this, but many applications are denied for errors that could have been avoided if the applicant had sought and obtained help from an immigration lawyer.

  1. Failure to Pay Taxes

Failure to pay taxes often means your application for citizenship will be denied. If you have an outstanding tax obligation, you should first make sure that obligation is addressed or satisfied before submitting your application for citizenship. Fortunately, it is not required that you pay the taxes in full before you apply. Rather, consulting an immigration lawyer will be helpful in guiding you through what you need to do to avoid your application being denied for failure to pay taxes.

  1. Proficiency in English

Before being approved for citizenship, one must take and pass an English proficiency test, for which the immigration offices provide study materials. Failure to pass this test is another common reason an application for citizenship is denied.

If you are in the Chicago area and are contemplating applying for citizenship, contact us today and schedule a consultation. 

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