Six Bad Reasons Not to Ap…

We love helping people apply for U.S. citizenship! But we often hear our clients give reasons not to apply for naturalization. Those reasons are often wrong! Here's a list of common reasons we hear for not applying, and why those reasons may not be a problem.

👎 My green card will expire soon. So I have to apply to renew my green card first.

✅ The N-400 receipt notice serves as valid, unexpired evidence of your permanent residence for 24 months from the "card expires" date on the green card. There used to be a rule about having to apply to renew your green card if it was going to expire within a certain timeframe, before applying for naturalization. But that's no longer true!

👎 I will have to give up my own citizenship/passport.

✅ That may be true, but it's not always true. Many countries allow dual citizenship, meaning you can hold passports from both your home country and the U..S. Confirm before you assume, and see if there are other feasible options (OCI for Indian nationals, for example). Many of our clients have two or more passports (we're jealous)!

👎 I have a criminal charge.

✅ Definitely work with an experienced immigration attorney to confirm the risks, if any, of applying for naturalization. I have had many clients with various criminal charges over the years successfully become US citizens. As we lawyers like to say: it depends! That being said, do consult with an immigration lawyer, because certain criminal charges can be a problem, even if the charge was dropped or the conviction was expunged.

👎 I owe taxes.

✅ Again, talk to a qualified immigration lawyer first. The question of whether you have timely filed taxes is related to the requirement of showing "good moral character." However, even if you owe taxes, if you are on an IRS payment plan and you have a clear history of consistent payments, you may still be approved for naturalization.

👎 I don't speak English well enough.

✅ Whenever a client or prospective client tells me this, I always ask them to let me hear them speak in English (if we're speaking in Spanish, or if there's an interpreter). Almost all of the time, when a client tells me this, it's a confidence issue, not a competence issue. You don't have to speak fluently. There are also English language exemptions for older, long-time residents. Get a professional opinion before you rule out citizenship based on English language skills!

👎 I don't meet the 5 year residence requirement.

✅ Do you have to though? Permanent residents (or conditional residents with the I-751 pending - see this video) who are married to & living with a US citizen only have a three year residence requirement. In addition, if you have spent lots of time outside the U.S. and you think you don't meet the continuous residence requirement, you may qualify for an exception.

You can also apply for naturalization up to 90 days before you meet the 5 or 3 year residence requirement.

Interested in learning more? Check out our naturalization page, including the naturalization eligibility tool. Looking for a lawyer to help navigate you through the process? Don't let these reasons not to apply for naturalization stand in your way. We are here to help!

If you are not yet a Sumner Immigration Law client and you’re looking for an experienced, empathetic, and efficient team to help you navigate the process with confidence, please contact us today and set up your initial consultation to get the process started! You can set an appointment online. You can also call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email at We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. For more information on our firm visit Who We Are and What Makes Us Different! We look forward to hearing from you!

As always, the above information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please speak with a qualified immigration lawyer before taking action.