Apply for U.S. Citizenship, and Get Deported – 7 Things to Know About U.S. Naturalization


In an attempt to reduce the number of naturalized citizens, the Trump administration is making U.S. citizenship more difficult for permanent residents to attain. Many lawful permanent residents believe that applying for citizenship is as easy as applying for a passport by simply downloading the application form and sending in a filing fee. However, applicants often are not aware of the increasing detailed scrutiny conducted with a new “gotcha” strategy of finding any basis for denial. If the basis for denial is a ground of removability, USCIS also may commence removal or deportation proceedings. U.S. citizens who are found to have misrepresented facts in their previous applications may be subject to denaturalization proceedings.

Here are 7 things to watch out for before filing for naturalization:

  1. Employer sponsorship requirements . If the applicant or spouse obtained a green card through employer sponsorship, but did not work for the employer pursuant to the terms of the job offer, the naturalization applications for both the applicant and spouse can be denied. More seriously, the green card could possibly be revoked.
  2. Outstanding parking ticket . Applicants are often shocked to discover at their naturalization interview that an unpaid parking ticket resulted in a bench warrant. This can lead to an arrest since USCIS will not usually look behind a bench warrant and will simply hand the applicant over to ICE.
  3. Minor criminal conviction . A single DUI arrest in the five years preceding application could result in citizenship denial or delay whereas two or more could result in denial and possible commencement of removal proceedings. Similarly, two shoplifting convictions or a tax violation may result in denial and the commencement of removal proceedings.
  4. Registering to vote . Many permanent residents applying for driver’s licenses are often encouraged to fill out a voter registration form at the DMV and naively believe they are doing their civic duty. But they don’t read the fine print – only U.S. citizens can vote. Illegal voting is a deportable offense and it can even lead to jail time .
  5. Failure to register for the draft . Many believe that the U.S. abolished the draft after the Vietnam War but fail to realize that all males between age 18 and 25 who fail to register for the draft or selective service may find their naturalization denied. Selective service registration is required for lawful permanent residents, parolees, undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees, and any males whose nonimmigrant visa expired for more than 30 days.
  6. Failure to pay taxes . Applicants who fail to file a tax return or pay taxes are precluded from establishing their “good moral character.” Also, filing as a “non-resident alien” could jeopardize an applicant’s continuous U.S. residence as described below.
  7. Long international travel . Applicants who spend time outside of the U.S. to look after a sick parent and were absent for more than 180 days are often surprised to discover this breaks the continuity of their U.S. residence and renders them ineligible for naturalization. However, those absent for more than a year may have to respond to allegations that they abandoned their green cards.

In addition to denial and removal, USCIS is also delaying the naturalization process. While applications were normally adjudicated within six months, adjudication times of more than a year are the new norm as immigration examiners review old files looking for any basis for rejection and denial in the applicant’s immigration history.

Furthermore, applicants must be aware that USCIS has signed an MOU with the DOJ to prosecute visa fraud. Foreign nationals often don’t realize that mistakes or inconsistencies can actually be deemed visa fraud pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1546 where the criminal penalties can reach 25 years imprisonment.

Lawful permanent residents considering naturalization should always consult with an experienced immigration attorney to assess any issues that may arise during the application process or naturalization interview.

About The Author

Bernard Wolfsdorf Bernard Wolfsdorf is the managing partner of the top-rated law firm, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP (, and the past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Established in 1986, Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP is known worldwide for providing exceptional quality legal services. With 19 lawyers and offices in Los Angles and New York, the firm was recently listed as a top-tier immigration practice by Chambers & Partners with several of the firm's attorneys listed in the 2015 International Who's Who Legal. Mr. Wolfsdorf specializes in EB-5 investment immigration in addition to the full range of global immigration matters.

Robert Blanco specializes in business and employment immigration cases. He prepares both immigrant and non-immigrant petitions for skilled workers, executive managers, high net worth investors, and people of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, and business. As a member of the firm’s EB-5 team, Mr. Blanco prepares cases for individual investors and advises U.S. businesses on how to structure investment projects under the regulations of the EB-5 program. He also represents clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Mr. Blanco graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School with a concentration in Corporate Law. Mr. Blanco is admitted to practice law in the state of California.

Richard Yemm is a partner in the Los Angeles office and is admitted to practice law in both California and New York state. He is certified by the California State Bar as an Immigration and Nationality Law Specialist. Having graduated with honors from the University of Exeter School of Law in the United Kingdom, he prepares and assists clients with a wide range of diverse cases including entertainment, investor, business and marriage/family-based non-immigrant and immigrant visa petitions, in addition to applications for U.S. citizenship and assisting with corporate I-9 compliance audits.
Mr. Yemm’s practice also focuses on analysis of immigration consequences of U.S. and foreign criminal convictions and immigrant and non-immigrant waivers of inadmissibility, where he has successfully overturned grounds of inadmissibility at numerous embassies and consulates around the world. In addition, he has successfully represented clients in removal proceedings in both the Los Angeles and San Diego immigration courts and is currently serving as the CBP Liaison for the Southern California Chapter of AILA.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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