Disclosing Dismissed Criminal Charges When Applying for Citizenship

Disclosing Dismissed Criminal Charges When Applying for Citizenship

People often get excited when the time comes to apply for citizenship.  They look over the N-400 Naturalization Application and think that it is just a matter of filling out a form. En Español.

But what people don’t realize is that, for the most part, all of the questions on the form are designed to address issues or reasons why the applicant may not be eligible to become a citizen at the present time.

One area that often confuses people is prior arrests, both those that end up in a conviction and those that don’t.

This article is focused on lawful permanent residents who have been arrested, but the criminal charges were ultimately dismissed.  Does the arrest itself have to be disclosed?

Natz Ceremony - swearing in

Absolutely.  The question about arrest, detentions and citations has gotten more and more specific over the years.  In almost every situation conceivable, the immigrant should disclose the arrest.  Non-disclosure of an arrest – even if it never resulted in a criminal prosecution or conviction – could be a reason that your naturalization case gets denied.

One important thing to think about, by the way, is that if you are an immigrant who has not yet naturalized, you really should consult with a competent immigration attorney before applying for citizenship.  You may think that your arrest or criminal charges are “no big deal,” but you really need to get the opinion of a competent immigration attorney.

In any event, immigrants sometimes think that if no charges were ultimately filed or if their “attorney took care of it,” that it does not need to be disclosed.

Our office has seen a fair amount of green card holders who walk in to our conference room carrying an N-400 denial notice.  Many times, their denial is based upon their failure to disclose an arrest or some other interaction with law enforcement or immigration officials.  This is often frustrating because if the applicant had consulted with us before filing, we would have advised them to make a full disclosure because an arrest – standing alone – does not usually justify the denial of a naturalization application.

If you have questions about an arrest, you should call us and we can talk it through. Our phone number is (314) 961-8200 or you can email us at [email protected]