Naturalization Concerns: Continuous Residence, Tax Returns and State Benefits

Naturalization can be a long and anxiety-producing process. In putting together your application and waiting for approval from the government, you may have many questions and concerns. For instance, what if you have been moving around a lot and not maintaining a continuous residence? Or, what if you have failed to file your tax returns? Or, what if you have been receiving state healthcare benefits? Ultimately, these three issues are worth thinking about, and we explain why below.

The residence requirements for naturalization do not require that an applicant live in the same residence during the five-year period of residency required for naturalization. Consequently, moving around, from house to house, should not affect a naturalization application. That being said, an applicant should begin to operate as much as he or she can out of a single address. He or she should file tax returns out of that address, stay there as much as possible and have identification changed to list that address. Illustrating that the applicant has a continuing, permanent address will make him or her appear more stable and established as an applicant, which can only help an application with the government.

It is possible for an applicant to lose his or her status as a lawful permanent resident based on a failure to file tax returns. Failure to file tax returns also affects a permanent resident’s ability to naturalize. When preparing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, the client will be asked specific questions about filing taxes, and the applicant will be required to bring tax returns to his or her interview. Furthermore, one of the criteria for naturalization is the demonstration of good moral character and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will almost certainly deny an application on the grounds of good moral character if the applicant has not filed any tax returns. Nonetheless, applicants who can show that they’re making an effort to resolve their tax issues (for example, by enrolling in an IRS payment plan) may still be eligible for naturalization. USCIS will take into account an applicant’s choice to enter into a payment plan in an effort to become current.

Lastly, feel free to continue receiving health care benefits from the government. For purposes of determining inadmissibility, the government will consider whether an individual is likely to become dependent on the government for income or long-term care. According to USCIS, however, questions of public charge do not apply in naturalization proceedings. Neither will state benefits impact the good moral character requirement. As long as the benefits were received lawfully, receiving state benefits will not hurt or affect eligibility for naturalization.

If you are, or are thinking about, applying for naturalization, and if you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Berardi Immigration Law for a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys today!

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