As a U.S. citizen, you’ll be able to sponsor relatives for immigration, receive more government benefits, be protected from deportation, and claim the rights and responsibilities of native-born citizens, such as voting. This is an exciting and honorable achievement with a tricky process. See a description of the entire citizenship application process here. The N-400, Application for Naturalization is a 21-page form you must complete to apply for citizenship. It confirms that you are at least 18 years old and a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. (If you want to apply for citizenship for a child who is under 18 years old, you should use the “N-600 – Application for Certificate of Citizenship”) The N-400 also asks for contact information and information on physical disabilities, residence, employment and educational history, time outside of the United States, family members, and more. Officers of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) review these documents thoroughly. Recognizing some of the most common reasons an N-400 application could be denied will prevent major stress and disappointment. Here are four common reasons an N-400 application may be rejected:
1. Not meeting standards for “Good Moral Character.”USCIS officers look for applicants with “Good Moral Character” or GMC. According to the USCIS, you must “show GMC during the five-year period immediately preceding your application for naturalization and up to the time of the Oath of Allegiance.” Keep in mind conduct prior to the five-year period can also impact your application. GMC basically means that you have behaved within the standards of the community in which you live. It can include things like failure to pay child support/alimony, controlled substance violation, false testimony under oath to get immigration benefit, and many others. For more info about the specifics of GMC, click here. If you are concerned about your ability to provide accurate and truthful information on your N-400, you should seek legal counsel before submitting your application. DO NOT lie. Even innocent mistakes on your Form N-400 cause delay and possible denial if found to be untrue. Be warned about the following issues:
- Misinformation or fraud of any kind on your form N-400.
- Fraudulent Green Card history.
- Failure to pay taxes.
- Failure to provide child support
- Criminal history.
2. Failure to Register for Selective ServiceQuestion 44 of the Form N-400 asks to provide proof of registering for the Selective Services. If you are a male between the ages of 18 and 26, you are required to register. Registering for the Selective Service is not the same as joining the military. Registration adds your name to a list in case of a national emergency. Many are surprised to have their citizenship application denied because of this issue.
3. Not meeting the physical presence requirementsEven though you are free to travel outside the U.S. as a legal permanent resident, you must avoid extended travel (longer than six months in a given year). Extended travel previous to applying for citizenship could disqualify you. The following are some of the requirements that you must meet at the time you fill out your N-400 application:
- Have resided in the United States for 5 years as a lawful permanent resident (3 years if you are married to a U.S. Citizen), without leaving for any extended period of time.
- Have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years preceding your filling out the application for naturalization.
- Reside in the U.S. without leaving, from the time you submit your application to the time you are given citizenship.