What will happen if my N-400 is denied? As immigration attorneys in the Houston area, we hear from our fair share of people who are worried about this. Houston is one of the five largest USCIS offices in nation. Anywhere from 1500-2500 people in Houston take an oath to become a U.S. citizen each month.
Lots of people who want to apply for citizenship have concerns about what might go wrong. Many have concerns that they might have issues in their application. Some wonder if they could lose their permanent residence (their “green card”) if their application for naturalization N-400 is denied.
Will USCIS Look at How I Became a Resident During my N-400 Application Process?
Yes. USCIS can look at any information that it feels is pertinent to your application for naturalization. USCIS takes the position that it has a right to review the basis of a person’s application for permanent residence during the naturalization application process. Even if a person was issued a green card, and it was renewed without any issue (or if conditions on the green card were removed), USCIS may again look at the application for residence. If any issues or errors are discovered during this process, a USCIS officer may raise them during the naturalization interview or issue a Notice of Intent to Deny or Request for Additional Evidence after the interview.
What if USCIS Says I Should Not Have Been Given My Green Card?
USCIS looks for errors in the approval of the application for the green card. It also checks for facts and circumstances that may show fraud in the green card application process. If USCIS finds anything that indicates that you did not qualify to become a resident, either because of a technicality in your case or because USCIS believes you committed fraud, these issues may serve as the basis for a denial of the N-400. Some examples we have recently seen are:
- USCIS interviews Mr. Chang three years ago. After holding his application for more than two years, it sends Mr. Chang a Notice of Intent to Deny stating that he applied for permanent residence under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. People filing section 245(i) applications for residence were required to pay a $1000 penalty fee. Mr. Chang’s file has no evidence that this fee was ever paid. USCIS states that if Mr. Chang cannot prove that the fee was paid, his N-400 will be denied.
- USCIS interviews a naturalization applicant who obtained her green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. The applicant and the U.S. citizen are no longer married. After interviewing her on her N-400 application, USCIS sends investigators to her former address where she and her former spouse lived to ask neighbors if the couple lived there together, and the neighbors state that they don’t recognize the couple from photos the investigators show. Investigators pull records of the U.S. citizen ex-husband’s travel and notes that he was traveling internationally with another woman during the time he and the N-400 applicant were married. USCIS issues a Denial of the N-400 noting that she appears to have engaged in a sham marriage in order to obtain permanent residence because it appears that the applicant and her ex-husband never actually lived together.
If My N-400 is Denied, Can I Be Put in Immigration Court?
Yes. If Immigration determines that you should not have obtained residence, they may place you in immigration court. Sometimes being referred to court provides an opportunity to resolve issues with your case. However, immigration court can be a slow process as dockets are often extremely full, and if you are placed in immigration court and do not win your case, you may be ordered deported.
If you have any criminal history, be aware that you may be detained after your N-400 is denied, and you may not qualify for a bond. Be sure to talk to an experienced immigration attorney before you file your N-400 so you know what to expect and can choose the best option for you. Your attorney can help you figure out if your criminal history, travel history, or other issues might make you susceptible to being put in immigration court.
If USCIS Finds Problems with my Application for a Green Card during my N-400 Interview, What Can I Do?
One of the best things you can do to avoid problems with your N-400 application and scrutiny of your application for residence is to be prepared. Go to an experienced immigration attorney to go over the process through which you got your green card. If you are unsure of what happened in your application for your green card, and attorney can help obtain records and review them with you to identify any potential issues.
Once you decide that you are ready to file your N-400, a specialized immigration attorney can help you prepare the required documents and information. If there are any other issues in your case besides how you became a resident, your attorney should be able to determine how to document these issues as well.
Finally, be sure that you have representation at your naturalization interview. If unexpected issues in your case arise, you may be caught off guard or unsure of the significance of problems the interviewing officer raises. An experienced immigration lawyer can help to identify the relevant issues in your case and can note any of the problems the interviewing officer identifies so that these can be examined after the interview. With representation and thorough review, you can be ready to respond to a Notice of Intent to Deny or to provide additional evidence as needed.
If you believe you are ready to file your N-400, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer so you can be ready for your interview and prepared to discuss your case. Click below to schedule a consultation: