Top 5 Mistakes Immigrants Make When Applying for Citizenship

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses a very important topic: what are the top 5 mistakes applicant’s make when applying for citizenship and how can you avoid them?

Want to know more? Keep on watching for more information.


New changes to the naturalization examination are coming. Beginning December 1, 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will introduce new changes that will make it more difficult for applicants to pass the civics examination. These new changes will apply to citizenship applications filed on or after December 1, 2020.

What type of changes will be introduced?

In order to obtain U.S. citizenship, applicants must successfully pass two components of the naturalization examination: The first is English proficiency – applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as determined by their ability to read, write, speak and understand English. The second requirement is the civics examination – applicants must pass an oral examination by demonstrating adequate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Beginning December 1, 2020 USCIS will:

  • Increase the general bank of civics test questions from 100 to 128 (the possible questions that may be asked)
  • Increase the number of test questions that will be asked for the civics exam to 20 (from 10)
  • Increase the number of correct answers needed to pass the civics test to 12 (from 6)
  • The test score required to pass (60 percent correct) the civics test however will not change

In order to pass the civics examination applicants must correctly answer at least 12 of the 20 questions asked.

When will the changes become effective?

USCIS will begin to administer the newly revised examination to U.S. legal permanent residents who file for citizenship through naturalization on or after December 1, 2020.

Those who file their naturalization applications prior to December 1, 2020 will not be subject to the new examination.

What are the top 5 mistakes applicants make when applying for citizenship?

#1: Failing to double and triple check their applications before submitting it to USCIS

Many citizenship applicants who file on their own make the common mistake of focusing on studying for the civics examination, instead of paying close attention to the information they have provided on their citizenship application.

It is very important for applicants to carefully review their application before submitting it to USCIS to ensure that all of the information is consistent with prior applications as well as accurate. Additionally, applicants who have moral character or criminal issues (such as failing to pay child support on a timely basis or criminal charges such as driving under the influence) should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to avoid any issues at the interview.

Common areas where applicants make mistakes include sections regarding travel history, prior addresses, and criminal history.

To avoid these problems, remember to double and triple check your application.

#2 Failing to submit proof of your spouse’s U.S. Citizenship if applying based on marriage

A second common mistake applicants make is failing to provide proof of their spouse’s U.S. Citizenship. This applies only to those who are applying for citizenship based on their bona fide marriage to their U.S. Citizen spouse. In this case such applicants must also provide proof that they have a bona fide marriage which includes: joint ownership and responsibility for assets and liabilities, proof of cohabitation, and commingling of funds.

Remember: if you are filing for citizenship based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen spouse, you must prove that your spouse is actually a citizen and that you are still living together and married.

#3 Failing to pay the right filing fees

A third common mistake is where applicants fail to pay the right filing fees and the citizenship application is rejected.

In general, the filing fee for a citizenship application is $725 (including biometrics).

To avoid any problems, remember to double check the correct filing fee on the USCIS web page section “Filing Fee.”

#4 Failing to respond to requests for evidence and submitting necessary documents on time

In some cases, USCIS may issue a request for additional evidence in order to continue processing your citizenship application. Requests for evidence may be issued for a number of reasons including to request further financial documentation, your medical examination, proof of bona fide marriage, etc.

Failing to respond to a request for evidence on a timely basis may result in the denial of your naturalization application. In addition, failure to provide an adequate response to the request for evidence may also result in a denial.

If you are confused about what documents you must submit in response to your request for evidence seek the advice of an experienced attorney and remember to read the request for evidence carefully.

#5 Failing to meet the eligibility requirements before filing your application

The fifth most common mistake is made where applicants file their citizenship applications without fully understanding whether they are eligible to apply for citizenship in the first place.

Applicants must demonstrate that they are eligible for citizenship. If applicants do not fully understand the eligibility requirements, they should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney.

To avoid this problem, remember before you file make sure that you actually qualify for citizenship to avoid any unnecessary expenses.

For a complete list of eligibility requirements click here.

TIP: To ensure a successful application remember to always tell the truth to the immigration officer. If the officer is not convinced that you are telling the truth this will reflect poorly on your moral character which is extremely important for citizenship applications.

Questions? If you have immigration questions and would like to schedule a consultation, please call 619-819-9204 or text 619-483-4549.

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