Issues that May Affect Your Citizenship Eligibility

Issues that May Affect Your Citizenship Eligibility



Issues that May Affect Your Citizenship Eligibility

Several different issues can affect your eligibility for US citizenship (and even your residency status). Sometimes, one of these issues can arise during your citizenship application and result in not only the denial of your application but a determination by USCIS that you should not hold permanent residency either.

In the ordinary course, you can apply to be a citizen of the US if you are at least 18 and 

  • Have been a permanent resident of the United States for five years; or
  • Are married to a US citizen for at least three years; or
  • Are currently serving in the US military.

None of these, however, is an automatic golden ticket to citizenship. During your citizenship application, a USCIS officer has the authority to review your status and determine whether you unlawfully received your permanent residency. Prior marriages, conflicting information, incorrect addresses, and almost any error on your forms can lead to significant problems. The officer can conclude that you did not obtain your status properly and must have made misrepresentations. Not only will this decision lead to a denial of your citizenship application, but it may also lead to removal proceedings. For this reason, you will want to discuss your citizenship application with an experienced Chicago immigration attorney

Some of the other issues that can adversely affect your citizenship application include the following:

A USCIS officer can also conclude that an applicant lied on an application when applying for the original nonimmigrant visa or even when they applied to change from nonimmigrant to immigrant status. This conclusion can result in a determination that the applicant misrepresented some facts and was, therefore, inadmissible and ineligible for residency. Such a finding will complicate or derail the naturalization process and can lead to a denial of the application.

Applicants for citizenship must demonstrate good moral character for naturalization. Applicants must show that they are of good moral character; if they can’t, some moral character issues may permanently bar the applicant from being eligible for citizenship. USCIS usually examines the applicant’s conduct for five years immediately before the application but may also choose to examine earlier conduct. If an applicant has failed to list a minor arrest or conviction outside the five years, the USCIS criminal background check will reveal the issue. 

While a minor arrest or conviction might not have typically lead to a denial of good moral character, the omission will likely be deemed a lie and result in the denial of citizenship. More serious criminal convictions will not only lead to denial but also likely to removal proceedings. If you have a conviction, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney before filing your application. 

Tax delinquencies can also derail your naturalization process. If you are delinquent, setting up an IRS payment plan and trying to resolve the issues is important. Tax issues don’t automatically kill your application, but the USCIS officer will have discretion in determining whether you are attempting to become current. 

Child support is similar to taxes – delinquency can be deadly. It is not an automatic bar, but a willful failure to support your dependents will likely lead to a denial. 

Seek Help from a Citizenship Attorney in Chicago

Again, if you believe you have issues that may block your citizenship application, talk to an immigration attorney from the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren, who can help you through the process.


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