Top 5 Reasons N400 denied

Top 5 Reasons N400 Denied and How To Overcome Them

Becoming a US citizen is a BIG deal. So big, in fact, that USCIS honors you with your very own ceremony! Not only is it exciting to finally become an American citizen but it also means that you are done dealing with USCIS, right? Here are the top 5 reasons N-400 denied and how to overcome them.

Each year, USCIS welcomes about 680,000 citizens during naturalization ceremonies across the United States and around the world. USCIS denied 66,767 naturalization petitions in 2104. Applicants can be denied citizenship if the following requirements can’t be met:

  • short length of permanent residence in the United States,Β 
  • are found to lack allegiance to the United States,
  • determined to have bad moral character, and/or
  • fail the required English language or American civics test.

Case Example:

Jason arrived in the U.S. on a student visa. After a year, he met and married the love of his life. They quickly adjusted his status while inside the United States after getting married. Three years after becoming a permanent resident, he was able to file for naturalization using form N400.

Jason studied for his civics test and was able to pass the English test with ease. He answered 10/10 civics questions correctly and was told by the immigration officer that they still need to review his criminal history. Jason was arrested and charged with a DUI and it may mean that he is denied citizenship if found to lack good moral character.


The number of immigrants seeking naturalization has shot up in recent years. No one really knows exactly why this is but I have a feeling it’s due to Trump’s immigration policies.

I know too many people who believe that Trump will make it more difficult to become a US citizen for lawful permanent residents that are eligible.

I understand the fear.

So, if you have the extra money, you should file your N400 and begin the waiting game for your interview. Even if you don’t have the money, there’s a chance you could have the fee waived due to financial hardship.

Okay, let’s get into some of the reasons N400 denied and what to do if you face a denial.

You Failed The English or Civics Test

One major requirement to become a US citizen is to speak, write and read the English language. I remember reading a quote that said 5 million naturalized citizens couldn’t speak English at all.

This definitely shocked me!

I mean, how do you pass the English test and answer the civics questions if you don’t know how to speak English?

Here’s the good news. If you fail the English or civics test he first time, USCIS will reschedule a second interview where you will be given another chance to respond correctly. Aren’t they sweet? πŸ˜‚

But, failing the second interview will result in an automatic denial of your naturalization request. So, study hard boys and girls!

I remember when I had my civics test a while back. It was nerve wrecking and I felt like I didn’t study hard enough. But you know what? I passed the test and got 10/10 answer correct. It was such a relief and an exciting moment for my husband and I.

Don’t stress too much about it, as long as you have studied all 100 questions, you will do fine.

TIP: There is a USCIS civics app thats available on both iPhone and Android. I highly recommend downloading it. It allows you to practice those 100 civics test questions and provide detailed answers if you get any question wrong.


You Were Outside The US For Too Long

This one might have you a bit confused but the reality is that USCIS wants to see that you’ve made the United States your permanent home before they grant you citizenship.

This makes sense, right?

If you don’t plan on living in the US, why seek US citizenship? Failure to meet the “continuous residence” requirement means that you will need to reapply for naturalization when you do meet this requirement.

Continuous Residence means that you must have 30 months of physical presence before you are eligible for naturalization. There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule but I’d recommend that you limit travel abroad to no more than 3-6 months and avoid going over a year.

You Have A Criminal Record

Doesn’t it seem like you just can’t get a break once you have been convicted of a crime? It’s true. πŸ˜’ USCIS can and does deny citizenship applications if someone has a serious criminal conviction.

They will run a fingerprint and background check on you to be sure you haven’t committed a serious crime that makes you ineligible for naturalization.

But, why do they do this if you’ve served your time? Well, it’s because they require all citizenship applicants to show “good moral character.”

Good moral character is vague way of saying “be a generally good person” and you must show it in your everyday actions.

criminal record trend

Photo credit: afimac global

You Didn’t File or Pay Your Taxes/Other Financial Obligations

Wondering what USCIS has to do with the IRS? Well, nothing really. But if you want to become a US citizen, you better have filed your taxes on time and paid any taxes due!

Owing the IRS is one reason for your N-400 being denied because this shows that you lack “good moral character.” It’s important that you file back taxes if you skipped a year and set up a payment plan with the IRS to pay back what you owe.

Here’s another problem many applicants run into… not paying child support.

Yup, you read that right! Not only can Americans not get a passport if they owe child support but you won’t be able to naturalize if you aren’t supporting your children!

I’m glad this is the case though because everyone needs to financially support their children. There’s no excuse not to!

You Lied To USCIS or Committed Fraud

Fraud and misrepresentation are major factors when it comes to the reasons N400 denied. We all know form childhood that lying is bad and can get you in trouble, so why do adults continue to do this when it comes to US immigration?

One word: fear.

I know of too many cases where someone lied on their N400 application hoping that USCIS will not find out the truth. I hate to break it to you but USCIS knows all (or almost all).

Whether you have a criminal record that was sealed or you lied on a previous immigration application that was never caught, it will come back to naught you!

Remember: USCIS can revoke your citizenship years down the road if you obtained it fraudulentely.

Come clean people! If you already know or think your citizenship application will be denied, why not hire an experienced immigration lawyer that can help you get around these pitfalls?

Related: Waivers for Fraud and Misrepresentation.

Conclusion: Top 5 Reasons N-400 Denied

In summary, the top 5 reasons N-400 denied are due to multiple reasons outlined above. Most you them you can avoid but for those of you who already have a lengthy criminal history, it might be worth the cost to hire an immigration lawyer.

Do your homework before applying for naturalization. It’s an expensive process and you want to be sure that you will get approved before submitting your application.

The waiting period for N400 approval has lengthened recently, so it’s important to apply as soon as you become eligible to naturalize.

If your N-400 application is denied, you will receive a letter in the mail explaining why USCIS denied your application and your options going forward. You can appeal but it may make more sense to reapply if you can overcome the denial reason.

Need help putting together your N400 application? Get Premium Case Support through the entire process.

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