What are the most common causes of naturalization denials?

Application for Naturalization can be denied based on a wide variety of reasons. Here are six most common reasons for denial of citizenship:

  1. Failing the English or Civics Tests

    The most common reason for not passing the first naturalization interview is that the applicant did not pass the English or the civics tests. The ability to speak English is determined by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Officer during the eligibility interview on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

  2. When filing for citizenship:

    • The applicant must read aloud one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to read in English. The content focuses on civics and history topics.
    • The applicant must write one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate his or her ability to write in English. The content focuses on civics and history topics.

    There are 100 civics questions on the naturalization test. During the naturalization interview, the applicant will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. He or she must answer correctly six (6) of the 10 questions to pass the civics tests. If the applicant fails any portion of the test, USCIS will give the applicant a second chance to file for citizenship and schedule a follow-up interview between 60 and 90 days from the date of the initial interview.

  3. Good Moral Character

    One of the requirements for application for naturalization is that the applicant be able to demonstrate that he or she is a person of good moral character. While the primary focus is on the applicants conduct during the five years preceding the application, earlier conduct can also be considered. Certain acts can make a Permanent Resident permanently ineligible for naturalization, while other acts can make him or her only temporarily ineligible. The Good Moral Character Requirement is particularly relevant to applicants who have been convicted of certain crimes; although, a conviction is not necessary for a denial. Aside from criminal convictions, the term “good moral character” is quite broad and it includes conduct such as habitual drunkenness, illegal gambling, failing to pay taxes, lying to obtain a public benefit, prostitution and failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony.

    If the applicant fails any portion of the test, USCIS will give the applicant a second chance and schedule a follow-up filing for citizenship interview between 60 and 90 days from the date of the initial interview.

  4. Failure to Pay Child Support

    An applicant with minor children is required to prove that he or she is financially providing for them – if the children are not residing with the applicant. If a court has ordered the applicant to pay child support, then the applicant must provide evidence showing compliance with the court order. Applicants who willfully fail to pay child support may be denied citizenship.

  5. Failure to Pay Taxes

    While tax issues will not automatically preclude an applicant from naturalizing, if USCIS discovers that the applicant owes back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (Internal Revenue Service), his or her application will likely be denied. A USCIS officer may use his or her favorable discretion to approve naturalization applications where the applicant can show that he or she is working with the Internal Revenue Service to resolve their tax issues. Therefore, it is a good idea to work out a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service before filing for naturalization.

  6. Lying to USCIS

    If an applicant lies in his or her application or during the naturalization interview, the application may be denied. It is important to be truthful at all times, therefore, if some of the information is difficult to ascertain (e.g. travel history), the applicant must show that a reasonable effort was made to obtain the information. If an applicant believes that answering a question truthfully will cause a problem with naturalization, the applicant should contact an immigration attorney before filing. It should also be noted that previous misrepresentations to USCIS may also cause a denial. During the naturalization process USCIS will review not only your current naturalization application but also your immigration history. If it is determined that the applicant’s green card was obtained by fraud, then not only can naturalization be denied but the applicant can be placed in removal proceedings.

  7. Failure to Register with the Selective Service

    In order to be eligible for naturalization, applicants must be willing to support and defend the United States and the Constitution. Male green card holders who are 18 to 25 years old are required to register and with the Selective Service System and must provide their Selective Service Number along with their application for citizenship. If an applicant was required to register but failed to do so before he turned 26, he must fill out and submit the Selective Service System‘s Request for Status Information Letter, and submit his status information letter to USCIS.