My naturalization application asks whether I ever claimed to be a U.S. citizen. I did – is this a problem?

Federal law has dealt very harshly with non-citizens who claimed to be a a U.S. citizen when that claim wasn’t true. This includes people who tell an employer that they are a U.S. citizen or who registered to vote or who voted. The current state of the law basically bars such people from ever applying for U.S. citizenship after having made such a false declaration.

Sometimes, the error was entirely innocent. We once worked with a man who had been sitting in his apartment one day. A person out registering voters knocked on his door and said, “its time to register to vote.” The man said, “I’m not sure if I am supposed to register – I am not a citizen.” The person said, “well, just fill out the form – if you aren’t a citizen, you won’t get a voter registration card.” Of course, the card was issued and the person had “falsely” claimed to be a U.S. citizen. When he came to us, we told him the seriousness of his actions and told him that he could not apply for citizenship. We were worried that not only would the naturalization application be denied, but that USCIS would try and revoke his green card.

How long after I file my citizenship application will USCIS schedule my naturalization ceremony?

Typically, six to eight months. After the application is filed, you will receive a receipt notice with your case number and filing date. You will also receive a biometrics appointment shortly thereafter. A biometrics appointment requires a trip by you to the local USCIS immigration field office where you will be fingerprinted and photographed. En Español.

You may receive a request for evidence. Sometimes, USCIS has follow up questions or wants a particular document for your file. Your case is “halted” while the RFE is pending. Once you respond to the RFE, your case begins processing again. Our goal in preparing your paperwork is to avoid RFEs, but sometimes they cannot be avoided.

About four or five months after your initial filing, you will be scheduled for the naturalization interview. The examining officer will review your application with you, determine if you are a person of good moral character, administer the civics and English exam and review the oath of allegiance. You will receive written confirmation that you appeared for the interview and you may or may not be notified on the spot that you have been approved.

Once your case is approved, you are put into the queue for the next available naturalization ceremony. Times change, of course, depending on the workload at the particular USCIS field office. If you have questions about your naturalization application or about an interview, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page here.

Can a naturalized citizen be deported?

If an alien goes through the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status and then becomes a US citizen through the naturalization process, the new citizen is protected from deportation.  The only way such a new citizen could be deported is if the government first denaturalized the citizen.

Denaturalization is very rare and the government has to meet a very high burden in order to obtain denaturalization.  Almost always, an attempt by the government to denaturalize someone is based upon the government’s claim that a new fact has been discovered which, if known at the time of naturalization, would have prevented the alien from ever being naturalized.  This usually involves that the person naturalized used a false identity or perpetrated some other kind of fraud on the immigration service.

An attempt to denaturalize someone usually involves litigation brought by the US government in federal court.  The Department of Homeland Security takes the position that they can denaturalize someone in an administrative proceeding, but at least one court has held that the regulations which purport to allow DHS to denaturalize someone lack statutory authorization and are therefore void.

If you have questions about denaturalization or if someone is claiming that you or a loved one committed fraud in the immigration context, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney.  Please call us at (314) 961-8200 or visit our contact page.

What is the oath of allegiance?

The citizenship (or naturalization) interview typically includes several distinct parts.  Each immigration officer seems to handle the interview in their own way.  But the components of a typical interview include (a) a review of the N-400 application, (b) the English exam, which consists of reading a sentence in English and writing another sentence in English, (c) the civics exam, in which the naturalization applicant is asked a series of civic questions and required to get six correct out of ten, and, (d) finally, a discussion of the oath of allegiance.

We have had more than one person come to our office because they were not prepared to discuss the oath of allegiance at their interview.  Because of that inability to explain what the oath means, they were sent home emptyhanded and told that they would have one more chance to explain to the officer at a later date what the oath means and to state without reservation that they agree to take the oath.

This is important because every naturalization applicant is asked at the ceremony to take the oath.  Here is how we explain the oath to our clients.

We ask our clients to think of the oath as The Past, The Present & The Future.  For The Past, the person is promising to give up their allegiance to their home country.  They have to renounce their devotion to their old country.  For The Present, the applicant states their willingness to take the oath and to become an American, with all of the rights and responsibilities that this promise entails.  Finally, for The Future, the applicant promises that if the country needs them in the future, either in the military or in doing civilian work of national importance, that the applicant will be there for the United States.

Different officers have different expectations regarding the oath.  Some simply ask, “have you read the oath and do you agree to take the oath?”  Others ask, “explain the oath to me in your own words?”  Still others actually have the applicant read the oath out loud and then explain in their own words what the oath actually means.

If you’ve been tripped up by the oath obligation or if you would like us to help explain to you how the oath is discussed at most naturalization interviews, please give us a call or reach out to us on our contact page.

What are some common grounds for inadmissibility? Will the Department of Homeland Security ever allow for a waiver of any grounds of inadmissibility?

At the Hacking Immigration Law, we see several common grounds for inadmissibility.  We address the most frequently seen inadmissibility grounds at our Missouri immigration firm and the chances for waiver below.


If you have tried to obtain a visa, another immigration related document, or gain admission into the United States by fraud or by lying about a material fact, you are inadmissible for life. For this particular inadmissibility ground, there is a waiver available for noncitizens if they can prove that the inadmissibility results in extreme hardship to their United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or parent.

Another form of fraud that is dealt with separately is falsely claiming citizenship. False claiming citizenship can take a number of forms, including voting and getting any benefit related to citizenship. A false claim of citizenship also carries a lifetime bar. However, for certain unlawful voters, there may be a waiver available if the noncitizen lived in the US permanently prior to the age of sixteen and reasonably believed that he or she was a citizen.

Unlawful Presence

Unlawful presence is another common inadmissibility ground. A noncitizen is unlawfully present if they entered the United States without being admitted or at a location that was not designated for entrance. A noncitizen can also be unlawfully present if they stay in the country after the expiration of their temporary visa. If a noncitizen is unlawfully present for less than 180 days, there is no inadmissibility bar. However, if a noncitizen is unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than one year, they are inadmissible for three years. Additionally, if a noncitizen is unlawfully present for more than one year, they are inadmissible for ten years.

For the unlawful presence bars, time does not begin to count until a noncitizen is over the age of eighteen. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes a waiver of these inadmissibility bars if a noncitizen can show that the inadmissibility would producean extreme hardship to a US citizen or LPR spouse, son or daughter.

Removal Proceedings

There are several inadmissibility bars that can result from removal proceedings. Failure to attend removal proceedings generally results in a five-year bar. Being ordered removed upon arrival (expedited removal) gets a five-year bar. Receiving a removal order at the end of deportation proceedings is a ten-year bar (you may face an additional bar depending upon what you are being deported for).

If you have been removed from the United States and you attempt to return unlawfully before your inadmissibility period is over, you will be barred for an additional ten years. If you leave the United States after receiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) and do not appear at the scheduled hearing, you are barred from entry for ten years. If you are removed from the United States more than once, you are barred from entry for twenty years. There is only one permanent waiver for the inadmissibility bars related to removal proceedings: noncitizens who have been removed from the United States can apply for a discretionary waiver from the Attorney General, which, if granted, will allow them to reapply for entrance into the United States. There is also a waiver for temporary entrance as a nonimmigrant but it is also discretionary.

Criminal Inadmissibility

Criminal inadmissibility grounds are among the most common and have the fewest waivers. Any noncitizen that has committed a crime involving moral turpitude (in any country) is inadmissible. There is an exception for noncitizens that committed the crime when they were under the age of 18 if the maximum penalty for the crime was less than one year of imprisonment and the sentence was finished more than five years before the visa application.

Also, any noncitizen with multiple criminal convictions for which the aggregate sentences have been more than five years is inadmissible. Any noncitizen that has violated a drug law of the United States, a US state or a foreign country is inadmissible. There is an exception for this inadmissibility bar if the violation was fifteen years in the past, admission of the noncitizen is not contrary to the national welfare and the noncitizen has been rehabilitated. Also, the violation can be waived immediately (subject to certain security restrictions) if the noncitizen can show extreme hardship to a US citizen or LPR spouse, parent, son, or daughter. The Attorney General also has the discretion to waive any of these inadmissibility bars for temporary, nonimmigrant visas.

What are the USCIS rules regarding the naturalization test and can I take the citizenship exam in my own language?

If you are looking to become a United States citizen through naturalization, there are several requirements. The requirement that is often biggest hurdle for immigrants is naturalization test. In order to pass the naturalization test, you must show that they have a firm grasp of the English language and must also pass a civics test.

The English portion of the naturalization test examines your ability to read, write and speak in English. The reading section requires you to be able to read one of three sentences correctly. For the writing section, you must be able to write one out of three sentences correctly. The speaking section of the test occurs throughout the interview while you listen and respond to questions from the interviewer.

The civics test consists of up to 10 of 100 possible questions. These questions test your knowledge of US history and basic US legal facts. There are 100 possible questions for the test. USCIS provides the questions here so that you can prepare beforehand. In order to pass this section of the naturalization test, you must get at least six of the ten questions right. If you fail either the English or civics portion of the naturalization test, you will be able to re-take the failed test within 90 days.

There are several exceptions from the naturalization test that are important to note. First, immigrants who are age 50 and older when they file for naturalization and have lived as a legal permanent resident (LPR) for the past twenty years are exempt from the English test. Also, immigrants who are age 55 or older at the time they apply for naturalization who have lived as an LPR for at least 15 years are also exempt from the English language test. Exemptions from both tests are also available for people with physical or developmental disabilities or for people with a mental impairment.

If you have any further questions regarding the naturalization test or the naturalization process in general, contact the immigration law specialists at the Hacking Immigration Law today by calling 314-961-8200 or by filling out our online contact info form.