Citizenship Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Becoming a U.S. citizen is one of the proudest moments in an immigrant's life. Participating in a naturalization ceremony is a great accomplishment, because becoming a legal citizen is not an easy process. During the process errors are possible, and those errors delay the chances of becoming a citizen. Here are common mistakes immigrants make and how to stop them.

The naturalization process begins with filling out Form N-400. One mistake, like missing data, incomplete data or a skipped question will delay the whole process. What you should not do is rush through the application. Fill it out truthfully and accurately. Check and double check the application thoroughly. When filing, include all supporting documents with the N-400. Don't forget to add the exact application fee amount in the form of a check or money order.

While it’s imperative to study hard and pass the civics test and English competency test, listening to what the immigration officer says is just as important. The immigration officer will conduct your interview. At the end of the interview, the official will hand you a letter recommending the approval of your application or may hand out a letter asking for additional documentation. Many fail to provide these documents, and in doing so cause a denial of their application. Provide the additional documents requested as soon as possible along with the request letter.

Some immigrants are exempt from participating in certain steps of the naturalization process. Applicants 50 years or older and have been US permanent residents for more than 20 years; OR 55 years or older and have been US permanent residents for more than 15 years, are exempt from taking the English test. The civics test may be provided in your native language if you ask for it. These exceptions are often overlooked because immigrants are told to do every step in the process or they weren't aware of these exemptions.

If you have a criminal or arrest record, it will be best to consult with an immigration attorney to plan a strategy for your application. Most applicants with a criminal record can still be eligible for naturalization by showing five years of good moral character after the incident.

Slow and steady wins the race. Rushing through the process causes your application, interview and tests to be held back just to correct those mistakes. Worse, the application could be denied. This is not a competition. Be patient and complete the process the first time.