One can become a citizen of the United States by being born in the U.S. or one of its territories, or through a process known as naturalization. The process of applying for naturalization has several requirements, which an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney can explain to the applicant in further detail. Below are some of the most common reasons why an application for naturalization would be denied by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that reviews such applications.
Naturalization applicants are required to meet eligibility requirements that, if not met, will result in a naturalization denial. For example, applicants must be at least 18 years old and must generally show continuous residence in the United States for the last five years, and continued presence in the U.S. for at least 30 months within those five years. An applicant who leaves the United States for more than a year at a time may be disqualified for failure to show continuous residence.
Applicants are also generally required to show basic proficiency in reading and writing English. A citizenship interview will test fluency in English. The applicant will be asked a series of simple questions regarding basic United States government knowledge. In some cases, reading and writing requirements may be exempted – an immigration attorney can explain to prospective applicants whether or not they qualify for a reading and writing proficiency exemption.
A showing of good moral character will be necessary for individuals who want to apply for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. To determine moral character, naturalization application officials will look into the applicant’s past to see if the person has been convicted of certain crimes or if the applicant has lied to immigration officials before. A finding of questionable moral character will likely result in a naturalization denial.
All male U.S. citizens and certain non-U.S. citizens age 18 to 25 are required to register for Selective Service. The Selective Service System is an agency of the U.S. government that maintains records on those who may be subject to a military draft. Even though a draft has not happened since the Vietnam War, failure to register for Selective Service can result in the loss of various benefits and privileges, including financial assistance from the federal government and the ability to be approved for naturalization.
Proof of residency will be very important in determining a person’s eligibility for naturalization. The law requires the foreign citizen applicant to show that the time spent in the United States was spent legally. If USCIS officials discover discrepancies in a person’s residential history, this will most likely result in a denial for naturalization. Anyone who is worried that discrepancies in residential history will result in a denial should consult an immigration attorney for advice before filling out an application. The attorney, in many cases, will be able to advise the applicant on his or her best options and whether or not the discrepancy is anything that they should be worried about. If the attorney thinks that all is well, then the attorney can help the applicant complete and submit the application for naturalization.