Are There Risks to Applying for Citizenship?


If you dream of United States citizenship, it may shock you to realize that there are some risks to applying. It’s important to realize what you are doing when you attempt to adjust your status from “permanent residency” to “US Citizen.”

This post is not to discourage you from attempting to become a citizen. It is to arm you with the information you need to be as successful as possible. 

Differences Between Permanent Residency and Citizenship

There are three key differences between permanent residency status and citizenship.

  1. If you leave the United States for too long, you can lose your right to stay in the United States. This is called abandoning your residence. You can abandon your residence in as little as one day based on your departure intentions, but USCIS usually starts paying attention when you are gone for more than six months.
  2. Every time you return to the border as a permanent resident, you risk being unable to enter the country if border patrol finds you inadmissible.
  3. Permanent residency status can be revoked.
  4. Permanent residents may not vote or hold office.

In all other ways, permanent residents hold the same rights as citizens. They are protected by the constitution, may sponsor relatives for permanent residency, may work and go to school, may apply for a driver’s license, and may purchase property.

Naturalized US Citizens may still be stripped of their citizenship if they take actions that would show greater loyalty to a foreign power than to the United States. 

Risks of Applying for Citizenship

When you apply for citizenship, you are inviting USCIS to reopen your file and to go over everything, yet again, with a fine-tooth comb. 

They could uncover an issue with your initial application. If they decide you were never legally in the United States in the first place, they can revoke your permanent residency status and start deportation proceedings.

In addition, if you have acquired a criminal record since coming to the United States, even a very minor one, you may have trouble showing you have good moral character. 

USCIS isn’t paying attention to every arrest that happens once a person has a green card, but they will certainly see your record the moment you give them a reason to look again. 

It may also be risky to apply for citizenship if you took long trips outside of the United States (for six months or more), or if you became a member of the Communist Party or another party that the United States has blacklisted. 

Fortunately, you can meet with an immigration attorney prior to launching a citizenship application. We can go over potential problems and discuss whether your application is particularly risky. 

Ready to get serious about citizenship?

Pursuing citizenship may be risky, but there’s no denying that it’s a wonderful opportunity. Many new, naturalized citizens get very emotional during their ceremonies, and it’s not hard to see why.

Hykel Law is here to help you achieve your dream of citizenship. We’ll help you apply, help you gather all the appropriate evidence, and help you meet any issues and challenges that might arise. Don’t take a single step on your application before you meet with us.

See also:

Understanding Re-Entry Permits for Permanent Residents

What You Need to Know About “Good Moral Character” In Your Immigration Case

What is the Difference Between an RFE and a NOID?

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