U.S. citizenship is the greatest immigration benefit that can be achieved. Applying for citizenship can be risky if you have previous criminal history, been traveling outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, failed to pay taxes, meet financial obligations, or ever lied to immigration authorities. By filing N-400, the applicant is inviting the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to thoroughly review the immigrant’s entire case file one more time.
USCIS will run a criminal background check. Some crimes create permanent bar to the U.S. citizenship, while other crimes create only a temporary bar. If you ever been convicted of a murder or aggravated felony, you will be automatically denied the U.S. citizenship. The definition of aggravated felony under immigration laws may be defined differently than by state courts. The USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Chapter 4 describes crimes creating permanent bar.
Other crimes make an applicant temporarily ineligible for the U.S. citizenship. Typically, the applicant just needs to wait a required number of years before applying for naturalization. However, a USCIS officer will still review the crime and make a discretionary decision as to whether the applicant meets the good moral character requirement. The USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Chapter 5 describes crimes creating temporary bar.
In order to become a U.S. Citizen you must meet continuous residence and physical presence requirement. If you have been traveling abroad frequently and for six months or longer in a year, you are likely have disrupted your continuous presence. Some exceptions apply to applicants married to U.S. citizens and those working for the U.S. government overseas.
Furthermore, some financial issues may affect the applicant’s moral character requirement and thus prevent naturalization. Failure to pay taxes or willful failure to support dependents are among common reasons when naturalization is denied. Debts alone do not constitute bar to naturalization.
It is essential to never lie on your Application for Naturalization, as even innocent lies can result in denial. Additionally, if the officer determines that your Green Card was issued based on fraudulent information, citizenship will be denied. If you feel that an honest answer to any of the questions may cause a problem, you are advised to seek legal help.
If you have ever been arrested, been traveling outside the U.S. for extended periods of time, failed to pay taxes, meet financial obligations, or ever lied to immigration authorities you should seek legal advice before filing an application for naturalization.
Attorney Khristina Siletskaya will gladly meet with you to discuss your immigration options. To schedule your consultation today call (843) 986-4684.