Frequently Asked Questions - Naturalization

The process through which a person becomes a US Citizen.

  1. Naturalized Citizen Sponsoring Parents
  2. N-400 Application and Prosecutorial Discretion
  3. Proof of Speeding Tickets During an N-400 Interview
  4. Applicants for Naturalization to Demonstrate Ability to Read, Write, Speak,and Understand English
  5. Application for Naturalization Denied for Lack of Good Moral Character
  6. Naturalization Cases Involving Outstanding Tax
  7. Naturalization Procedures at Atlanta Office
  8. Naturalization Policy Regarding Adjustment of Status
  9. Recanting of Misrepresentation in Naturalization Application
  10. Misrepresentation in Naturalization Application
  11. Denaturalization
  12. Application for Naturalization
  13. I am a US citizen and spouse on B-2 visa
  14. N400 Interview and selective services
  15. Citizenship and criminal record
  16. Reentry permits and citizenship application
  17. Shoplifting and naturalization
  18. Travel while citizenship/naturalization pending
  19. Citizenship Form
  20. US Citizenship, misdemeanor case
  21. My naturalization interview experience
  22. How does Immigration office verify the dates of entries/exits
  23. Renewing Expired GC and Citizenship for autistic/disabled persons
  24. Consequences of DUI's on naturalization and green card
  25. Does lay-off affect natutralization?
  26. Naturalization - travel before oath
  27. Citizenship/naturalization trips of more than six months abroad
  28. Citizenship for Employees of Consulting Companies who have Projects in Different Cities after Green Card
  29. Effect On Green Card And Naturalization Of Using Public Or Government Benefits
  30. How To Add Forgotten Information On To A Naturalization Application/N-400?
  31. Form N-470
  32. Effect of a Speeding Ticket on Green Card or Naturalization/Citizenship
  33. Denial of Naturalization/Citizenship Applications
  34. Traveling after applying for naturalization/citizenship pending
  35. Naturalization Delays
  36. Naturalization/Citizenship Delay
  37. Permanent residency in more than one country
  38. Expeditious Naturalization
Naturalized Citizen Sponsoring Parents
I am a brand new citizen and I am filing papers to bring my parents from England to NY to live with my husband and our four children. As I understand it once they get their interview and medical stuff out of the way, and get their visas do they enter as Legal Permanent residences?

They will enter the USA as permanent residents. The duration of the immigrant visa is stated on the visa stamp (I think it will be 6 months) and they must enter the USA within that time. They can come and leave after they get their green card in the USA.

N-400 Application and Prosecutorial Discretion
What happens when an applicant for naturalization is eligible, but also subject to removal because of a crime committed outside the statutory period? If it is determined that the application will be held in abeyance pending the outcome of removal proceedings, is there a process for evaluating prosecutorial discretion? Would an offer to withdraw the N-400 application be a favorable factor in the consideration for prosecutorial discretion?
Proof of Speeding Tickets During an N-400 Interview
Should applicants provide proof of speeding tickets during an N-400 interview?

Applicant should try to provide proof of the ticket and proof of payment of any fine or additional penalties for any tickets over the past five years.

Applicants for Naturalization to Demonstrate Ability to Read, Write, Speak,and Understand English
Assuming all other criteria are met, under what circumstances will an application for naturalization be denied where the applicant passed the English test and responded meaningfully to all interview questions, but allegedly does not understand the oath of allegiance? Please provide examples, if possible.

USCIS says that applicants for naturalization are required to demonstrate an ability to read, write, speak,and understand English.  The ability to read and write English is determined byadministering the reading and writing tests to the applicant.  An applicant’s ability to understand and speak English is determined by the applicant’s ability to understand and speak English during the interview.  This includes responding to all questions on the application including und

Application for Naturalization Denied for Lack of Good Moral Character
Assuming no other negative factors, under what circumstances will an application for naturalization be denied for lack of good moral character if USCIS determines that an applicant received benefits for which he or she was not entitled? What if the applicant pays back or is paying back the amount owed? Does it matter the extent to which the benefits were received fraudulently (with intent) vs. inadvertently/unknowingly?

USCIS says that these situations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis looking at all of the factors in the case and that intent would certainly be a factor to consider.

Naturalization Cases Involving Outstanding Tax
USCIS notes that naturalization may be denied in the exercise of discretion if an applicant fails to file required tax returns or owes back taxes. Assuming no other negative factors, under what circumstances will USCIS deny an application for naturalization in an exercise of discretion for lack of good moral character where the applicant has filed all required taxes correctly, has a tax debt, has come to a formal agreement with the IRS or other tax authority to repay the taxes owed, and is paying off the debt?

USCIS instructs officers to accept proof that regular tax payments are being made.  USCIS says that all N-400 cases involving an outstanding tax debt will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, looking at the totality of circumstances.

Naturalization Procedures at Atlanta Office
Will the USCIS Atlanta Office go back to swearing in applicants on the same day as the interview?

It is unlikely that the Atlanta District Office will resume swearing-in applicants on the same day as the N-400 interview, aside from customers who come from Alabama or at least four hours away, who CIS makes every effort to swear in the same day due to the distance traveled for the interview.

Naturalization Policy Regarding Adjustment of Status
Has USCIS discussed the new Naturalization policy regarding the review of the underlying adjustment case? Should clients come prepared to discuss their marriages, for example?

Review of the underlying adjustment of status is not a new policy. Officers have always had the authority to look back at the underlying adjustment, at any time, and doing so is not a new process.

Recanting of Misrepresentation in Naturalization Application
With regard to any removal risk, how would USCIS view a voluntary recanting of an intentional misrepresentation in a naturalization application? For example, what if the beneficiary brings the issue to USCIS’s attention and formally withdraws the misrepresentation, thereby subjecting him/herself to denaturalization?

USCIS would submit the case to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) counsel for determination.

Misrepresentation in Naturalization Application
If there is a knowing misrepresentation in a naturalization application, as opposed to a simple failure to disclose, would this lead to removal proceedings in addition to denaturalization?

It might.  If Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) counsel proceeds with denaturalization and is successful, removal proceedings may be instituted.

How does USICS handle a situation when, during a marriage-based adjustment application, it transpires that there might have been an eligibility issue with the Naturalization application of the U.S. Citizen (USC) spouse petitioner? For example, it is discovered that divorce proceedings had been initiated after the naturalization application was filed,but prior to the interview and the divorce was finalized soon after the oath, and eligibility being based on three years of residence in marital union with USC. What factual issues arise and what is the standard for proceeding with an action for denaturalization?

If USCIS determines that an applicant for naturalization was not eligible to naturalize, the evidence is obtained and submitted to Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) counsel for determination of denaturalization.

Application for Naturalization
I have a question regarding naturalization filing period. I will complete my 5 years in US in June. Can I only file after 5 years or I can submit my documents after 4 years 9 months only.

You are allowed to submit Naturalization application any time after 90 days following the 5th year from your green card approval.

I am a US citizen and spouse on B-2 visa
I am US citizen and my wife is here on B-2 visa, her I-94 just expired, applied for extension, denied. Can I file I-130 and 485 for her now and can she wait here for her GC legally without leaving the country?

You can file I-130 and I-485, but she must not travel outside USA until she gets her green card.

N400 Interview and selective services
How important is your enrollment in selective services when you appear in a citizenship interview. Will the interview officer ask you about why u did not register in selective service.

I believe this can be a problem. You should speak with a lawyer. You will need to establish that the failure to register was inadvertent, not intentional.

Citizenship and criminal record
In 2001 I was charged with shoplifting (retail fraud 3rd degree in michigan. I was convicted and paid fine and 7 days community service. In 2005 i got my green card. The case was expunged in 2008. Ever since 2001 i do not have any other criminal record in the last 9 years. Would this be a problem during the citizenship cause the application says good moral character in the last 5 years. My case is 9 years old and so i satisfy the 5 year rule for good moral character but not sure.

Generally speaking, USCIS looks at the last five years preceding the application, but they CAN go back as long as they wish for adjudicating good moral character. My guess is, you should be fine.

Reentry permits and citizenship application
My husband is a LPR (since 1993) interested in applying for naturalization. He was granted a reentry permit and used it to enter the country nearly 2 years ago. How long does he have to wait to apply for naturalization?

If he was out of USA for more than one year at any one time, the reentry permit will allow him to file after 4 years and 1 day from re-establishing domicile in USA.

Shoplifting and naturalization
I am permanent resident of USA for 5 years,and I was shoplift in JCPenny and caught by securities in 2008,they took me to their office,took my picture, and got copy of my driver license,and asked me to sign 2 form of documents,one was saying I can't enter store for a year,second one was a civil demand($500 fines),they did't called police,do I have criminal record? FBI will check it out? I already sent in the citizenship application,and have wait for 3 months after the fingerprint taken,still didn't receive interview notice. Will they reject my application?

From what you have described it does not appear you have a criminal conviction. Nevertheless, in my view, you should get yourself a local lawyer to assist you with the naturalization process.

Travel while citizenship/naturalization pending
I am currently a GC holder and have resided in the US for 30 month out of 5 years. I will be eligible to file my Citizenship (N400) paperwork next month. Once I have filed my application for Citizenship, can I leave the US and travel to Canada to visit my daughter? I was planning to be out of the US in Canada for 3 months. Will it be ok or me to leave the US once I have filed my application or Citizenship? or should wait to file upon return back from Canada?. Do I need to live continuously in the US while my application for Citizenship is in process?

Temporary absence of three months while your citizenship application is pending should not pose a problem as long as you remain a permanent resident of USA.

Citizenship Form
Iam a US citizen I want to fill for citizen for my mom I dont know which form I should fill out to send to immigration.

I am assuming she has been a green card holder for 5 years the form is N-400.

US Citizenship, misdemeanor case
First of all I would like to thank Rajiv for this website. I am a new user but I've read some answers and felt so easy already. I had a misdemeanor charge back in 2007, shoplifting (less than 500). I did community service 24 hours and was on probation, got early termination of probation in 2008. All records got cleared in the state of Colorado. I am thinking to apply for US citizenship but very nervious about it. Please advise. I have two daughters. My husband could apply first with kids and I could try after them. Please help me. Need your advice.

Thanks for your kind comments about our web site. You can apply, but USCIS can certainly make an issue about the misdemeanor. You may want to retain a local lawyer.

My naturalization interview experience
I had my interview today.The officer asked me simple direct questions like my DOB,when I came to USA ,when I moved to this state..then on the trips section he said "what was your purpose of your visits, becuase I see trips for like 3 months "i said " i visited my husband and relatives"and thats it on this section,given that i made 6 trips out,the longest is for 5.5months after civics,he said I passed,but no decision was made because they need to review my physical residency. Is my case very bad? I am worried!total days spent out were 554(1.5yr)in my 5yr residency!how bad is that? do they take long time to respond?

I see no problem with the visits - they were all less than 6 months. I think it should be ok. It is difficult to estimate how long it will take.

How does Immigration office verify the dates of entries/exits
Could you tell me how does the Naturalization Office verify dates of US entries/exits? My wife and I have been lawful US Green Card Holders since 1990 and we're interest in applying for naturalization now. We've been traveling in and out the US for the past 19 years and I didn't save all the plane stubs. I believe we only have some of the US entries (not exit) stamps on our passports. Also we've renewed our passports once, so our passports only show the entries stamps for the past 3 years or so.

As far as I know they rely upon your passport and their own entry-exit records through Form I-94 system. This situation is common and can be corrected by supplying affidavits from applicants along with any other evidence you may have.

Renewing Expired GC and Citizenship for autistic/disabled persons
One of our clients (I think I have worked with these folks for over a decade) had these questions:

Quote:  A member of our family was issued a Green Card in November 1980. The green card did not have any renewal date (see enclosed). I assume Green Cards at that time did not have a renewal date. Does this need to be renewed?

Ans: Replace the green card. See:

Consequences of DUI's on naturalization and green card
Dear Mr.Khanna, I have reading all your post and found you quite informative. I will appreciate if you can let me know the possible consequences of my case. I was in restaurant in Gaithersburg MD on Jan 29 2008 with my boss who was visiting from Atlanta. I had a beer and 2 glasses of wine with dinner came out sat in the car and started backing up. As you know it was winter and had rained earlier the windscreen at the back got fogged out. While backing up I hit a car parked. Police was in that parking lot and arrested for drunk driving. I blew .09. I was given a bunch of tickets after being 30 minutes in the precinct and was released. In the court they dismissed 2 tickets like DUI and DUI par se and convicted me DWI and Failure to control Speed to Avoid Collision. BTW DWI in MD is a lesser offence when you blow less than the state .08 BAC typically .07. And Failure to control speed to avoid collision which is maximum fine $130.00.Now the Judge gave me Supervised Probation till I finish my MADD Class. After that the Probation goes to Unsupervised for 12 Months. Now I am elligible to file citizenship. I have finished 5 years of LPR time with minimal travel aborad. Now my questions are : 1.) Will I get deported or removed. 2.) Will I have problems while entering POE while travelling from overseas. 3.) Will my Citizenship be denied if I file after my probation gets over. Please share your knowledge It will immensly help my stress. This one mistake of my life has really taken a toll in my life. Your earliest reply will highly appreciated.

Let us look at the law for green cards and removal (deportation) first.

Remember the following GENERAL elements of the law (there is more to it).

Does lay-off affect natutralization?
I obtained my green card 4 1/2 years ago through employment. My former employer sponsored me h-1 visa for 6 years and labor certificate and green card as well. Unfortunately, I was terminated by the employer last year, which ended my 10 years career at the company. After the termination, I then filed workers compensation claim for the injuries at work, and civil lawsuit for discrimations and under-paid wages through lawyers. The two cases are pending at courts. Now I have a part time job which is not related to the job that helped me get the green card. It is almost time for me to apply for citizenship. However I am worried about how much the two cases would affect the application. I will be asked in the citizenship interview why I left the green card sponsor, why you were terminated and so on, so forth. Please help advise if my worries are correct ? Is it better to apply for citizenship when the problems above are ended in courts ? Thank you very much for your help.

 I see no reason to worry here. Neither the civil cases nor the fact that you have left and taken a PT job should have any bearing on your naturalization.

Naturalization - travel before oath

My husband and I have our N400 petition pending for almost 18 months. We passed our interview in July 2007 and had our 2nd fingerprinting 2 weeks ago. We were also informed that we have been cleared from background check. We have to leave for an international assignment in December and would like to understand the steps we need to take so it does not impact/disrupt our naturalization process, in case we do not get called for oath by then.

Citizenship/naturalization trips of more than six months abroad
I have been scheduled for my interview next month after cancellation of the first one. I took three trips outside the US, and one last more than 6 months but less than one year. I waited for more than 5years since my last entrance which is June 2013 before applying for citizenship. Should I be worried about my interview since I broke the continuity of residency?
Citizenship for Employees of Consulting Companies who have Projects in Different Cities after Green Card
My Question is after getting green card and leaving consulting employer after 14 months, when person applies for US Citizenship (8 years after getting green card) can USCIS ( knowing that sponsoring company was consulting) asks for client letter, contracts ( like H-1B documentation ) for the period when employee was working with GC employer( after GC approved) ?
Effect On Green Card And Naturalization Of Using Public Or Government Benefits
I & my wife are completing 5 years now on US Green Card, but are apprehensive to go ahead and file for our US Citizenship under the current circumstances. We also read that PR's who are using state or federal benefits are more susceptible to denials. I am making close to 200K salary and not dependent on any govt sponsored benefits or funds. But our kid has been diagnosed for Autism and he is receiving services from Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The State alone is not paying for his services but we are primarily being billed on our private medical insurance for his therapy sessions every week. The school he is attending may be getting some funds for his additional care at school, considering his medical condition. Our questions are: Since we have been using DDD services for genuine medical reasons and I am in the higher salary bracket, would this be an issue for us in getting our Citizenship? Are the denials only for low income groups who are getting benefits from the government? Should we wait for some more time to apply for Citizenship?
How To Add Forgotten Information On To A Naturalization Application/N-400?
I filed for my N-400 and then had requested my Driver's History from NJ DMV just to be sure that my account is in good standing. I received my Driver's History after few weeks and my account is good standing, however, I had one traffic ticket 16 years ago about which I had completely forgotten to mention on my N-400. Therefore on my N-400 I had selected "No" to the citation question. My question - should I let the officer know right in the beginning of the interview that I would like to amend my N-400 for that particular question OR should I wait until he gets to that question and then let him know? What's the best way to deal with this error on the application?
Form N-470
You stated : "The Form N-470 must be filed before the person departs from the United States except religious workers who may apply before or after departure, or after return to the United States. The religious workers are not required to have lived in the United States for a specific period of time prior to the filing of N-470. Similar exception is granted to alien members of the U.S. Armed Forces. In such cases the LPR employee who filed N-470 is considered physically present in the US during such employment abroad and does not need a reentry permit." Does that mean a religious worker does not have to spend a full one uninterrupted year of physical presence in the US? If a religious worker can apply any time and once approved, all time spent outside of the US will be counted towards his naturalization qualification, it means that religious worker doesn't need to be physically present for a full year at any time prior to applying for his/her citizenship, correct?

The law says:

1. Generally, you must have been physically present and residing in the United States for an uninterrupted period, without any absences, for at least one year after your admission as a lawful permanent resident before you can file Form N-470.

2. You do not have to be in the United States to file Form N-470, but you must file it before you have been absent from the United States for a continuous period of one year.


Effect of a Speeding Ticket on Green Card or Naturalization/Citizenship
I got a speeding ticket ( It is not related to DUI and no arrest, just a ticket) recently. I didn’t contest the ticket and plead guilty by paying fine of 170$, I have receipt of payment. Do I have to wait for another 5 years from the date I got a ticket (Good moral character period of 5 yrs as per USCIS) to apply for US citizenship to show good moral character?
Denial of Naturalization/Citizenship Applications
Back in 2007 I started dating my now ex husband back in high school. In 2010 we got married, we were 18 at the time. The Process was estressful because the IO thought we got married for the papers, we had 30 days to prove it was a bonafide marriage, we hired a lawyer, sent the proof, waited for a long time, finally got the permanent green card after 2 years. A month after he left, he said wasn't happy anymore, we didn't get a divorce but 5 months later I met someone, and then 3 months after I got pregnant, my ex and I ended up getting a divorce in December 2016. Could they use it against me applying now for my citizenship after being a resident for 5 years? Could they use that they thought it was fraud before (even though it was proven otherwise) against me because of everything that happened after(us separating, him leaving, me getting pregnant)?
Traveling after applying for naturalization/citizenship pending
1. My husband and I are planning to apply for citizenship and had Green Card for the 9 years. We are planning to travel to India for approx. 3 weeks in spring (March 2017)? 2. Can I travel after filling application for citizenship? 3. Should I plan that after biometrics or can be before that as well? 4. The Green Card expires Nov. 2017? 5. Also, is employment necessary or helpful when applying? 6. Do we have to reside in USA 3 months at a stretch?
Naturalization Delays
I am living in Lexington, Ky. My wife and I filed N-400 for citizenship on 2nd Feb 2015. Our 5 years’ green card date was 14th April 2015. My wife already got her interview, oath, passport done 3.5 months back but I am still waiting for my interview. Its already 9.5 months. Our field office is in Louisville, KY and their website shows that their processing time is 5 months. My application is way beyond 5 months. I did submit case inquiries and first time (9/11/15) they told me that “Due to workload unrelated to your case there is a delay” and second time 10/15/15 they told me that “security clearance is being done”. I took the infopass and went to Louisville field office. They told me that my case is with “national service center” I think and they are waiting for security clearance. Just wondering, is there a time limit to the security clearance?

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.

Naturalization/Citizenship Delay
My Citizenship Interview was held on July 8th 2013 (become PR 6/2007) and it is pending since then due to middle name issue. My Indian passport and documents in US does not have middle name, but my Birth certificate has listed my name along with middle name (there is no middle name section in the birth certificate, so they did not bother to mark it separately. So it has been approx. 2 years and I reached out multiple times about the status and so far I got an answer “Will let you know once the decision is made”. Also I have been told that they need to do another round of security check with my name, including the middle name. Now, my company wants me to send me to Germany for some years (approx. 2+ years). I am not sure how I can proceed further. My wife and Kids are US citizens and they will have to move with me to Germany for couple of years.

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.

Permanent residency in more than one country
If a GC holder applies for permanent residency in another country (say Canada or Australia) is that automatically considered an abandonment of the GC here in the US? I am getting a very good job offer in Australia and would like to go try it out for a few months to see if its a good fit.

See clip from Attorney Rajiv S. Khanna's conference call video that addresses this question.

FAQ Transcript:

The question here is can I have permanent residency in more than one country?

Expeditious Naturalization
What is expeditious naturalization?

Expeditious naturalization is available to individuals who are seeking to naturalize as the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is regularly stationed abroad. The eligibility requirements for this category of naturalization applicants are outlined in section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and section 319.2, Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations. Although U.S.