You came to Dallas with the idea that you’d one day become a U.S. citizen. But tough naturalization laws can give you a hard time when you start applying.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are responsible for going over requests for naturalization. Recently released information showed USCIS turned down over 80,000 applications in one year. A denial can happen for a lot of reasons, but some are more common than others.

Common problems

Not meeting a guideline can put your application at risk for denial:

  • Residency: There are rules for how long you must be in the U.S. before you can get citizenship. USCIS could deny you for not having a green card for five years, or not being in the U.S. enough before your application.
  • Debts: You could receive a rejection if you owe money for taxes, or are behind on your child support payments. But it’s not a guarantee. You could still qualify for naturalization if you can show good reason for not paying or have set up payment plans.
  • Selective Service: The U.S. government requires almost every male immigrant between the ages of 18 to 25 to register with the Selective Service System (SSS). This could mean a denial if you were supposed to register with the SSS and didn’t. You may still be able to fix your situation by working with the SSS to register.
  • Morals: When the USCIS reviews your application, they can look at how you’ve acted in the last five years and maybe longer. The agency will probably run a background check to look for proof of bad behavior.

Good moral character

The good moral character rules can be hard to predict since they’re allowed to cover a wide range of issues. You may not get naturalization if the USCIS determines you don’t have a good enough reputation:

  • Problems with drinking or gambling
  • Lied on your application
  • Convicted of a serious crime

Make sure you know the rules when you apply for naturalization. It could mean the difference when you’re trying to earn your U.S. citizenship.