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Applying For Naturalization: Can I Be Ineligible?

Posted by Ann Badmus | Mar 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

For lawful permanent residents (LPRs) of the United States, applying to become a citizen through naturalization can seem very overwhelming. There's much to consider before applying for citizenship. In our previous article we discussed some general requirements that a foreign national must fulfill in order to be eligible to apply for naturalization. But what can make a person ineligible?

Most of the circumstances and conditions whereby an individual would be ineligible for naturalization involve problems of moral conduct or violations of law, including (but not limited to):

  • Drug offenses (except in cases involving less than 30 grams of marijuana)
  • Helping others enter the U.S. illegally
  • Giving false testimony so as to obtain immigration benefits
  • Having been previously deported
  • Failure to pay child support, alimony, or other dependent support
  • Prior conviction resulting in serving a jail/prison term of 180 days or more
  • History of drunkenness
  • Involvement in prostitution

A person is permanently ineligible for naturalization if:

  • they have been convicted at any time of murder
  • they have been convicted of an aggravated felony since November 29, 1990
  • if they requested exemption or were discharged from military service on account of being a foreign national
  • if they were convicted of desertion during a time of war

In some cases, eligibility for naturalization can be temporarily delayed if an individual is on probation or parole, or if they have a suspended sentence. Once the individual's legal matter is concluded, USCIS will determine whether their moral character is such that they would be eligible to apply to naturalize.

Individuals who are in removal (i.e., deportation) proceedings are ineligible to apply for naturalization. However, if they prevail upon appeal of their removal order, they would later be eligible to apply.

Once an individual is naturalized, it is extremely rare that their citizenship would be revoked. Such a revocation could occur, for example, if it was discovered that an individual “illegally procured” their naturalization or obtained it by “concealment of a material fact or by willful misrepresentation.” Such a circumstance would arise where a foreign national failed to disclose something during the naturalization application process that would otherwise have made them ineligible for naturalization.

About the Author

Ann Badmus

Principal and Managing Attorney


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