Top 3 reasons U.S. Citizenship is Denied

When an immigrant wants to become a citizen of the United States, they start by filing an Application for Naturalization, Form N-400. This form is submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), where it is reviewed and either approved or denied.

The USCIS could reject your citizenship application for various reasons; however, some of those can be prevented! The process of naturalization can take years and cost $725 in government filing fees alone. 

Before you start the long, expensive naturalization process, make sure you understand and avoid the three reasons your U.S. citizenship could be denied.

united states flag and form n-400 application
The United States flag and a Form N-400 application. Your naturalization application may be rejected if you don’t pass your citizenship test, fail to demonstrate good morals, or make an error on your paperwork.

The United States flag and a Form N-400 application. Your naturalization application may be rejected if you don’t pass your citizenship test, fail to demonstrate good morals, or make an error on your paperwork.

1. Failed Citizenship Test or Interview

The citizenship test and interview are critical parts of the naturalization process. Therefore, you must prepare and study to make sure you pass. You can obtain a DVD study guide from to help you complete the test and interview successfully.

The citizenship examination has two parts: Civics and English. If you fail either of them, you will have one additional opportunity to retake them, approximately 60 to 90 days later. After that, you will only be retested on the portion that you failed. 

What to Expect on the Civics Portion of Your Test

During the civics exam, you’ll be asked 10 open-ended (not multiple-choice) questions about U.S. history, geography, and government. You must answer six questions correctly to pass. The purpose of this test is to verify that you have a basic knowledge of the United States.

The USCIS officer will ask these questions in English unless you are eligible for an exemption. If you meet one of the following criteria, you can take the civics test in your native language as long as you bring a qualified interpreter:

  • You filed your citizenship application after age 50 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years
  • You filed your citizenship application after age 55 and have lived in the U.S. for at least 15 years

The 10 questions are chosen from a predetermined list of 100, which you can study before taking the test. However, be aware that some answers will change over time due to governmental leadership changes, so be sure to study from the most current sample test.

 The USCIS provides free study materials for the civics test.

What to Expect on the English Portion of Your Test

The English test is made up of three sections: speakingreading, and writing:

  • The speaking test: The speaking portion is conducted throughout the interview to test your ability to understand and speak basic English as the USCIS officer asks you questions. It’s okay to talk with an accent, make basic grammatical errors, or ask the officer to rephrase or repeat a question.
  • The reading test: The reading section requires you to read one sentence aloud. You can prepare for this section by studying a list of vocabulary words ahead of time. If you do not read the sentence correctly, the test administrator will give you another sentence. You will have three chances to pass this portion of the test.
  • The writing test: The writing quiz requires applicants to draft one sentence after it’s read by the USCIS officer. As with the Reading exam, you will have up to three opportunities to pass and can access study words before taking the test.

What You Can Anticipate During Your Citizenship Interview

During your interview, a USCIS officer will ask you a series of questions regarding your eligibility for U.S. citizenship. To be eligible for citizenship, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old when you file your Form N-400
  • Be a permanent resident (have a “green card”) for at least five years prior to your application
  • Demonstrate that you have lived in the USCIS district where you applied or for a minimum of three months in your state 
  • Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400 
  • Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the Constitution of the United States

Your interviewer may ask you questions that you answered on your N-400 application. Additionally, they might review the documents you submitted with your application.

Each citizenship interview is unique and the most important thing to remember is to be honest. Lying during your interview could lead to a denied application.

2. The Good Moral Character Requirement

To be eligible for citizenship, you must meet a “good moral character requirement.” If the USCIS finds that you are not a person of good moral character, your application will be denied.

There are several possible reasons why a person would not meet this requirement, including these:

  • Committing a property crime or a crime against the government that involves evil intent or fraud
  • Committing any crime against another person with the intent to cause harm
  • Violating any controlled substance law 
  • Committing two or more offenses with a total sentence of at least five years
  • Gambling illegally
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Practicing polygamy
  • Engaging in prostitution
  • Failing to pay court-ordered alimony payments or child support 
  • Lying to obtain immigration benefits fraudulently
  • Failing to complete any parole, suspended sentence, or probation requirement before you submit your naturalization application
  • Incarceration that lasted 180 days or more in the last three to five years, depending on the circumstances of your application
  • Persecuting anyone because of their national origin, race, political opinion, social group, or religion
  • Taking part in an act of terrorism

3. Clerical Errors and Other Filing Mistakes

It’s true. Making errors on your citizenship application could result in the rejection of your petition. 

Rejection is not the same as denial because you will usually have the opportunity to correct your mistakes. However, resubmitting your application after a rejection will cost you additional time and money, so you should do what you can to avoid these errors.

The USCIS rejects a significant number of applications every year for simple errors, including: 

  • Filing an incomplete application
  • Failing to sign the application
  • Sending the incorrect fee

Avoid Errors With’s DIY Immigration Software

The N-400 application for U.S. citizenship can be complicated and confusing. provides “do-it-yourself” software and lawyer review services to help you correctly complete the immigration application process. 

With in your corner, you may be able to avoid denials and delays on the path to naturalization. We guarantee success or your money back, so there is no risk to you. So, start your application by taking our U.S. citizenship qualification quiz today!

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