Top 3 reasons U.S. Citizenship is Denied

A citizenship application could be denied for many reasons, and some can be prevented! Before you start the long, expensive naturalization process, educate yourself on reasons for possible denial.

1. Failed Citizenship Interview or Test

The citizenship test & interview is a key part of the naturalization process. It’s important that you prepare and study to make sure you pass.

During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask you a series of questions regarding your eligibility for U.S. citizenship. They may ask you questions that you answered on your N-400 application. They may review documents you submitted with your application. Each citizenship interview is unique. The most important thing is to be honest. Lying during the interview could lead to a denied application.

The citizenship test is two-part: the civics test and the English test. During the civics test, you will be required to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly. The questions are chosen from a list of 100, available to study beforehand. The USCIS provides free study materials for the civics test.

The English test includes a speaking, reading and writing portion. The speaking portion is conducted throughout the interview. The USCIS officer conducting the interview is testing your ability to understand and speak basic English as he or she asks you questions. It’s OK to speak with an accent or make basic grammatical errors. Also, if you don’t understand something the officer says, it’s OK to ask them to rephrase it.

The reading test requires you to read one sentence aloud; you will have three chances. The writing test requires you to write one sentence; you will have three chances.

If you fail any or all of the tests, you will have 1 additional opportunity to retake them. You will only be retested on the portion of the test that you failed. However, if you lie during the interview, your application may be immediately denied.

2. The Good Moral Character Requirement

To be eligible for citizenship, you must meet the “good moral character requirement.” There are several reasons why a person would not meet this requirement including having a criminal record or lying on your citizenship application. If the USCIS finds that you are not a person of good moral character, your application will be denied.

Here are some examples the USCIS lists of things that might demonstrate a lack of good moral character:

  • Any crime against a person with intent to harm
  • Any crime against property or the government that involves fraud or evil intent
  • Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more
  • Violating any controlled substance law of the United States, any State, or any foreign country
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Illegal gambling
  • Prostitution
  • Polygamy
  • Lying to gain immigration benefits
  • Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments
  • Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years (or 3 years if you are applying based on your marriage to a United States citizen)
  • Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before you apply for naturalization
  • Terrorist acts
  • Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group

3. Clerical Errors and other Filing Mistakes

It’s true! Making errors on your citizenship application could result in rejection. While rejection is not the same as denial (you usually have the opportunity to correct any mistakes) it does waste time and money.

The USCIS rejects a significant number of applications every year for simple mistakes including filing an incomplete application, failing to sign the application, or sending the incorrect fee.

The N-400 application is complicated and confusing. provides “do-it-yourself” software and lawyer review services to help you properly complete the immigration application process. Start Your Citizenship Application!

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