When you left your native country and obtained a green card to live in the U.S. as a permanent resident, you may have decided to leave your plans uncertain. Perhaps you left family in your homeland, or you wanted to see if your search for employment would be profitable. Whatever path you took when you came to Colorado, you are now happy living here and want to take the next step.
You are eligible for applying for U.S. citizenship after holding a green card for five years or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen and meet other qualifications. The process of naturalization is complex, and not everyone who applies is approved. It may help you to know some of the common reasons why the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may deny some applications for naturalization.
Fulfilling your duties
Being a good citizen means meeting your obligations. If you have been remiss in your responsibilities to your family and the U.S. government, USCIS may deny your application for citizenship. For example, paying court-ordered child support is a legal requirement, and if you have such an order, you will need to prove to the court that you are meeting that obligation. Also, if you are a male between the ages of 18 and 25, you have a responsibility to register with the Selective Service System to qualify for naturalization.
Paying taxes is an important civic duty, so if you owe back taxes, your eligibility for citizenship is in jeopardy. However, you may be able to resolve any of these issues to qualify. Paying what you owe, or demonstrating that you are making an effort, may reinstate your eligibility for citizenship. Often, if you can provide a reasonable explanation for why you did not fulfill these duties, USCIS may consider your application.
An upstanding citizen
One factor, which you may be unable to mitigate with an explanation, is your moral character. Many people change and mature, so if you have a past that includes criminal activity, you may be eligible to apply after a certain number of years have passed. Any aggravated felony, such as murder, will bar you permanently from obtaining U.S. citizenship, as will lying on your application.
Other behaviors that USCIS may consider evidence of poor moral character include the following and others:
- Drug crimes
- Crimes against government property
- Habitual alcohol or drug abuse
- Failing to complete court-ordered penalties for convictions
- Acts of racism
- Acts of terrorism
Seeking your citizenship with any of these hindrances in your past may be challenging, but there are experienced legal professionals who can guide you through the process.