Eligibility for Naturalization and Permanent Resident Status

USCIS updated its Policy Manual on November 18, 2020. The changes clarify cases when the applicant is ineligible to naturalize because of how they obtained Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) status; even if they have had LPR status for years or decades. USCIS scrutinizes naturalization applications to ensure that the LPR status was properly obtained before allowing naturalization.

This creates a very challenging position for some LPR holders. In order to apply for naturalization, they must prove that they obtained their LPR status lawfully. The consequences for an applicant who is ineligible to naturalize include placement into removal proceedings and deportation.

Some things that could make an LPR holder ineligible for naturalization include:

  • Green cards issued by USCIS in error
  • Missing, incomplete, or wrong information submitted on the LPR application
  • Abandoned LPR status
  • Children of parents who have abandoned LPR status
  • A warrant for arrest

Specifically, these policy changes say that an applicant is ineligible to naturalize if the applicant did not lawfully obtain the permanent resident status. This includes cases where USCIS was not aware of facts or materials at the time of Permanent Resident Status application. Even if status has been approved, USCIS can revoke status and put the applicant in removal proceedings.

Application Timing

Further, the policy explains that USCIS denies naturalization applications filedĀ on or after November 18, 2020. USCIS lacks the authority to consider the merits of a naturalization application if the applicant is in pending removal proceedings because of a warrant of arrest.Ā 

This is a significant development. All applicants who believe that they qualify to naturalize should very thoroughly evaluate their case before submitting a naturalization application to USCIS. Migration Resource Center provides free consultations and affordable immigration legal services, including for naturalization evaluations and applications.

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By Frederik Stefani; December 7, 2020