United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated their policy of approving U.S. citizenship applications and made some changes to how strictly they can apply them. This could make many green card holders ineligible for U.S. citizenship.
The USCIS officers now have a larger discretion to deny green card holders from qualifying for a U.S. citizenship by how they judge any of the basis. Be it how long the applicant should have stayed in the U.S. before applying for citizenship to any crime they have committed that would make them ineligible, now lies at the discretion of the officer.
Failure to meet any of these criteria can mean that the application for citizenship will be denied. In most cases, while you may not lose your green card, you will have to reapply for citizenship when you meet the qualifications.
What Is The Eligibility Criteria for U.S. Citizenship
To qualify for U.S. Citizenship, a green card holder has to fulfil the below criteria first:
- is at least 18 years old at the time of applying
- has maintained permanent residence, (green card) for the required 5 years (fewer for certain categories of applicants).
- has been continuously present in the United States without having spent long periods of time in another country
- has lived in the same U.S. state or USCIS district for three months before applying to the USCIS office there
- has demonstrated good moral character in the years leading up to application for citizenship
- can speak, read, and write English – this is verified during a written test before taking the naturalization oath
- can pass a test covering U.S. history and government, and
- is willing to affirm loyalty to the U.S. and serve in its military if necessary.
What Are The Grounds For Denying U.S. Citizenship
The following reasons can be grounds for U.S. citizenship denials:
Obtaining the green card unlawfully
For those who may have obtained their green card unlawfully or in error wherein the USCIS was not aware of the disqualifying facts at the time of adjudicating their green cards, their naturalization application now be denied.
Not maintaining sufficient residence within the U.S.
Per regulation, in order to qualify for U.S. citizenship, the permanent resident has to have spent a minimum of 5 years as a resident in the U.S. If the stay has been lesser than the stipulated number of years, the green card is considered to be abandoned.
If the applicant has been absent from the country for more than six months but less than a year must overcome the presumption that they have broken the continuity of their residence. The applicant can be placed in removal proceedings by issuing a Notice to Appear (NTA).
The burden of showing continuity of stay in the United States lies with the applicant.
Not having a good moral character during the LPR phase
It is important to be an upstanding citizen to qualify for U.S. citizenship. The applicant can be denied citizenship for immigration violations, engaging in subversive or terrorist activities, having committed certain crimes, or if failed to update USCIS of a change of address within ten days of moving.
HOW TO APPLY FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP
To apply for naturalization, legal residents must submit, by mail or online, Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
The form must be submitted along with the required fee of $640 + $85 for biometrics. USCIS accepts money orders, credit cards for Naturalization filing fees, personal and bank checks payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The application should be accompanied by supporting documents for U.S. citizenship which include: Two passport-style photos; Copy of the permanent resident card, marriage certificate, etc.
For complete details about the US Citizenship Process, check out 10 Necessary Steps to Become a US Citizen