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3 Most Common Pitfalls During Citizenship Application

Author: US Citizenship Lawyer Alena Shautsova

For any immigrant to receive a US citizenship signifies a great achievement: everything he/she worked for, everything he/she hoped for in the US is presented by a sheet of paper called a Certificate of Naturalization. Usually, a person has to be in green card status for 3 or 5 years before he/she can submit the application. Sometimes, there are expedited ways to achieve citizenship (for example, the military service provides an expedited path without any waiting times at all).

So, now, when you are so close to your American Dream, it is important to check yourself against most common mistakes that may impact the achievement of that dream.

Mistake #1: Failure to Register For Selective Service

One of the questions on form N 400 asks “Are you a male who lived in the United States between your 18 and 26th birthdays?”

It is so because in general, males must register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday but not after reaching 26 years of age. The U.S. government suspended the registration in April of 1975 and resumed it in 1980. However, not everyone will be punished for failure to register.

The following males do not need to register at all:

  • Males over the age of 26;
  • Males who did not live in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 years;
  • Males who lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 years but who maintained lawful nonimmigrant status for the entire period; and
  • Males born after March 29, 1957 and before December 31, 1959.

If you did have to register the failed to do so, the law “deals” with you depending on your age. If you are under 26: you are out of luck, completely. You will need to wait until you turn 31 to be able to apply. It means: do not wait and REGISTER!

If you are between 26 and 31: the government will allow you a chance to show that your failure to register was not knowing and willful.

If you are over 31: now, you can apply for naturalization even if you failed to register!

It means that if you had to register but failed to do so, you would have to wait to be over 31 to apply for naturalization.

Mistake #2: Failure to Disclose Criminal Record

In absolute majority of cases, this mistakes comes from a belief that “they would not know…” Trust me, “they” will. What happens often is that a person is arrested between after he/she files an N400 application and before the interview. At the interview, the applicant denies any criminal history, including arrests. As you can imagine, the officer runs the background check before he/she makes a decision, and finds out that there is some criminal history. Even if the chargers will be dismissed, failure to disclose the arrest causes an officer to make a finding of “lack of good moral character” which disqualifies the applicant from citizenship for five years. If you have any criminal history at all, you should consult with an attorney before you submit your application.

Mistake #3: Failure to File Tax Returns Properly

Where one can make a mistake here is when he/she does not pay taxes and owes taxes but does not have a payment plan. Or, when one who is married to a US citizen and files for citizenship based on green card obtain through that marriage, files separate tax returns with the spouse.

Basically, you cannot expect one branch of Federal government to close eyes on your situation with another branch of Federal government. So, make sure your taxes are all in line before you submit your forms and pay the hefty filing fees.

If you have questions regarding naturalization application and procedure, please call us at 917-885-2261.

13 December 2017
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