23 Mar 2022 When Not To Naturalize (Part 1)
U.S. citizenship is the dream and goal of almost every immigrant coming to the U.S.. Naturalization is the process by which a green card holder (or lawful permanent resident) applies for and is granted U.S. citizenship. There are many benefits to U.S. citizenship, such as the ability to vote in U.S. federal elections, remain outside the U.S. for a lengthy period without worrying about “abandoning” their immigration status (as is the case with permanent residents), and the ability to petition additional family members, such as married children and siblings.
There are many articles and YouTube videos about the requirements for naturalization. But this article will be different. Rather than going through the requirements for naturalization, I will go through when not to naturalize. As an attorney practicing law for over 40 years, I have had many people consult with me after they had applied for naturalization, but it was denied. In many cases, they made a big mistake by filing for naturalization.
Here are some reasons a person should not file for naturalization, and if any apply to you, consult with an attorney before filing:
- Not lawfully admitted. This typically means a person may have been granted their green card through mistake or fraud. The fraud or mistake may not have been discovered when they were granted their green card, but when they apply for naturalization their entire immigration file, background, and history are opened up for brand-new analysis and investigation by the USCIS officer. That’s when they are “caught,” or their fraud is discovered. Not being lawfully admitted includes several items:
- Fraud in obtaining an entry visa or having applied for a previous immigration benefit the person was not entitled to.
- Assumed name entry, or entering the U.S. under a different/false name, without obtaining a fraud waiver.
- Obtaining a green card through a fixed marriage.
- Applying for naturalization after three years based on living with a U.S. citizen spouse, but the couple had already separated or never lived together.
- Obtaining a green card through marriage, but they are still married to someone else.
- Obtaining a green card as single, but were secretly married.
- Violated their entry visa within 60 days of entry, such as entering as a visitor and immediately worked without authorization.
- Lacks good moral character. While a person is supposed to demonstrate they had good moral character during the five years immediately before filing their naturalization application, USCIS could also look at your conduct even before those five years. While the term “good moral character” is vague, there are several listed crimes that would make you ineligible for naturalization, and if you committed those crimes, even after you obtained your green card, it would be risky for you to file for naturalization. These crimes include:
- Certain “aggravated felonies,” which include crimes of violence (such as domestic violence) money laundering, alien/human smuggling, document fraud, etc.
- Violations of controlled substance (drug) laws.
- Willfully failed or refused to support dependents, such as failing to pay child support when required.
- Intentionally failing to register for selective service if you are a male over 25 years of age and under 31.
There are many other reasons or grounds a person should not file for naturalization, which is why I recommend you consult with an attorney before you file.
Stay tuned for Part 2 as I will share several other important reasons on When NOT to Naturalize. In the meantime, check out our videos on US Immigration TV on our YouTube channel, and make sure to Like, Share, and Subscribe!
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