Undocumented immigrants often wonder whether child support obligations will impact an application for naturalization. The short answer is, “yes.”

Your application for naturalization even accounts for support obligations. You will have to answer the specific question of, “Have you ever failed to support your dependents or pay alimony?” The reason for this question is to help determine whether you have the “good moral character” necessary to become a naturalized citizen.

A far-reaching question

You may have noticed that the question on the naturalization application doesn’t specify children who reside in the U.S. or elsewhere. Also, the question doesn’t mention court orders. Because this question is used to help determine good moral character, it’s far-reaching.

You need to consider children you have who are not living in the United States. Also, it doesn’t matter whether a court order exists, either in the U.S. or in another country. From the standpoint of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, custody obligations don’t come from the courts. Obligations come with the responsibilities of being a parent.

You should answer this question honestly. If you’re providing support for children abroad, say so. If you’ve been unable to provide financial support, state your reasons for doing so. An immigration officer may consider:

  • Your employment status
  • Your ability to provide financial support
  • Whether you’ve made a good faith effort to support your children
  • Whether you made an honest mistake regarding your support obligations

Inability to support a child will likely only have a negative impact on your question of moral character if you willfully refused to provide for your child. If you have any questions about the naturalization application and how to answer, a skilled professional can help guide you through this process one step at a time.