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Denial of Citizenship Application

A little more than 10% of US citizenship applications result in a denial. What happens if and when you get the dreaded letter in the mail? Would it be possible to appeal? Do you retain your green card? Or, should you pack your bags ready for imminent deportation? These are some of the anxiety-inducing questions you get to ask yourself when you get a denial of a US citizenship application. Here, we shed some light on your burning questions and give you an idea of your very important next steps.

For quite some time now, the United States is among the top countries in the world to immigrate to. It is human nature to desire to be a citizen of a powerful country, with various opportunities for personal and financial growth, opportunities to travel to numerous visa-free countries for US passport holders, and countless other doors that may be opened when becoming a US citizen. 

American naturalization, defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is the process of becoming a US citizen for those born outside of the US. If certain requirements are met, it is possible to obtain citizenship under the Naturalization Act of 1790.

You may check your eligibility using this online tool. If you are interested in obtaining US citizenship. However, to ensure a successful citizenship application, the best way is to hire North Carolina immigration attorneys to guide you every step of the way. Diener Law has offices in Durham, Raleigh, Mount Olive, and Greenville in North Carolina and California and would be happy to assist you in everything related to citizenship and immigration.

The most common pathway to becoming a US citizen is by being a green card holder or what is referred to as a permanent resident. Green card holders have been granted the right to live and work in the US permanently. The USCIS awards someone a permanent resident card or a green card to prove one’s PR status.

Barring any special circumstances, you can apply for naturalization at least five (5) years after obtaining your green card. However, should the application be denied, does it invalidate your green card, too?


Usual Causes of Denying A Citizenship Application

Before we go on with the possible ramifications of a citizenship denial, let’s enumerate some of the reasons why an application is denied. 

Not Passing The English and Civics Test

One of the requirements in obtaining citizenship is passing the English and Civics Test. This test consists of questions related to American history and government as well as integrated civics like symbols and meanings, geography, and US holidays. The English test will measure your writing, speaking, and reading proficiencies of the language.


Failing To Show Continuous Settlement or Residence in the US for Five Years

Another requirement for citizenship is for the applicant to have lived and resided in the US for a minimum of five years before your application. Obtaining a green card allows you to come and go to the US as you please, however, the entire duration spent overseas will not count to required physical presence in the US leading to citizenship. Spending more than a year overseas could jeopardize your citizenship application and may be grounds for denial of citizenship


Not Having A Clean Record

The term Good Moral Character is used by the USCIS to denote being labeled as per US laws “in good status.” This means that one has a clean record and has no criminal activity. Involvement in aggravated felonies and federal crimes not only puts your potential citizenship at risk but also your permanent residency status because some crimes are grounds for deportation. 


Will A Denial of Citizenship Cause Deportation?

Usually, it doesn’t. 

If the reasons for the denial of citizenship are failing the English Ability and Civic Tests or failing to prove the 5-year continuous stay in the US before application, then the applicant just goes back to permanent resident status.  Even if the denial is due to involvement in misdemeanors such as DUIs or getting divorced, and other legal matters, for as long as the legal issue is not grounds for deportation, then the applicant will retain his/her green card. 

However, if the reason for citizenship denial is that the applicant has committed fraud in obtaining a green card or that the applicant is not qualified in having permanent resident status  in the first place, then the USCIS will be initiating deportation or removal proceedings. 


Appealing the Citizen Denial

Administrative Review Request

An applicant can file for an appeal within thirty (30) days upon the original denial of the citizenship application. 

A step-by-step guide is outlined below. 

  1. Request for administrative review and hearing with a new immigration officer.
  2. Submit a filled out  N-336 form or the “Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” in the same USCIS district that denied your application.
  3. Submit additional or supplementary documents to support your  N-336 form. You may describe your eligibility and your compliance and adherence to citizenship laws to boost your application. 
  4. Pay a filing fee of $605. (Rates may change. Contact your immigration lawyer to get updated fees.)
  5. Should the appeal and its documents be correct and in proper order, you will then receive an acknowledgment from the USCIS and a notification of the scheduled hearing.
  6. The new immigration officer assigned to your case will review your application.
  7. If the reason or one of the reasons for citizenship denial was you failing the English Ability and Civic Tests, the new officer will allow you to take the tests again.
  8. After completion of the second round of tests and a careful review of your application, the officer may reconfirm the earlier denial or revoke and approve your US citizenship.


Federal District Court Review Request

After an administrative review and your application is still denied, then an appeal may be escalated to the Federal District Court within 120 days after the administrative review. A “de novo” review will be conducted by another officer, wherein the officer will determine if your application is compliant with US immigration laws. The hearing is usually scheduled within 180 days of your request. 

Upon completion of the de novo review, the officer will either confirm the original denial or deny the application based on discoveries and findings or default on the denial decisions and instead approve your US citizenship application. 


Legal Motions

Two major types of motions may be filed after the denial of your citizenship application. These are motions to reopen and motions to reconsider.

If you are presenting new evidence or additional supporting documents that will impact your citizenship application, you may file for a motion to reopen.

If you believe that the USCIS has possibly made a mistake in denying you citizenship and that you are confident that your application is sufficient, then you may file for a motion to reconsider.

Both motions can lead to your citizenship. What is important is that you choose a capable and reputable immigration attorney by your side to represent you. Obtaining citizenship is a complex legal process. 


Hiring California and North Carolina Immigration Attorney Services

Seek the help of experts. Do not risk all your hard work and preparation in becoming a US citizen and throw it away at the last stage of the process. 

Diener Law consists of an experienced, award-winning team of attorneys and immigration professionals that has helped over 50,000 immigrants from California to North Carolina. Schedule your appointment by calling (888) 361-3349.

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