Can child support payments affect the naturalization process?

| May 28, 2020 | Family Law, Immigration |

The path to naturalization can be difficult. Seemingly everyday problems can have an impact on your journey to becoming a citizen. The N-400, or application for naturalization, includes 20 pages of questions about almost every aspect of your life.

Some of these questions require you to provide details about your family status and history. Divorcees or other applicants that owe alimony and child support are concerned about how their answers on the N-400 will impact the process. What should they expect before filling out this crucial document?

Child support questions on the N-400

Question 30 in Section H asks the question: Have you ever failed to support your dependents or to pay alimony?

The goal of this section of the N-400 is to determine whether you are “a person of good moral character.” According to the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), good moral character is a requirement for citizenship.

Project Citizenship, a citizenship activism organization, says failure to pay child support can be considered a failure of moral obligation by the USCIS. They also acknowledge that child support extends beyond children in the U.S. If you have dependents in other countries, the USCIS considers your obligation to them, as well.

On your naturalization application, you should provide honest answers, but you should also understand how those answers will be considered by the USCIS.

I answered yes. What now?

If you answer yes to this question, the application requires you to include an explanation of why you have failed to pay child or spousal support.

The USCIS accepts a handful of reasons for failure to pay child support, including:

  • Incorrectly calculated child support debts
  • An honest mistake in believing the child support term had ended
  • Unemployment or other financial distress

In your explanation, you must provide evidence to support your situation. If you can prove that you could not pay or that you made a good faith effort to provide for your dependents, you may have a better chance of getting your application approved. In your justification letter, the more details you can provide, the better.

Every naturalization application is unique, and the USCIS will consider your unique circumstances to deliver a judgment.

If you have concerns about how a child support debt may affect your application, speak with an experienced immigration professional before submitting your application.