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Do I Need to Report Citations on My Naturalization Application?

On the N400 naturalization application, USCIS asks quite a few questions about your background. In addition to questions about your address and employment history, you are thoroughly examined to see if you have ever violated the law in the U.S. or abroad.

Specifically, there is a section in the eligibility questions where USCIS asks six detailed questions about potential criminal history. On page 14 of the N400, questions 22 through 26 ask about arrests, charges, and convictions and related issues.

One of the trickiest questions on the entire naturalization form is actually question 23 that asks, “Have you ever been arrested, cited or detained by any law enforcement officer for any reason?” This question is often misunderstood because many applicants do not realize that a citation includes minor issues like a parking or speeding ticket. The word “cited” is nestled in between “arrested” and “detained” and so if you are not paying close attention your eyes will quickly pass over this question and you will miss the impact of having “cited” listed there. 

Also, if you had forgotten to include a citation on your N400 application, avoid the temptation to entrench yourself in an untruthful position at the interview. Some applicants mistakenly believe that continuing to insist on something that is not true can make the issue go away. Therefore if your adjudicating officer at your naturalization interview asks you about a traffic incident or other citation that you had forgotten to include on your N400, you can simply say, “Sorry officer I had forgotten about that.” Your officer will likely then ask you if you had paid the fine and will confirm that it is otherwise a mild issue (where there were no arrests or alcohol or drugs involved for example). Once this is confirmed, your officer will simply write in the details of the incident into your N400 and you will be asked to sign and acknowledge the change.

Overall it is crucial for you to report any citations like traffic incidents or speeding tickets on your naturalization application because USCIS could accuse you of not being truthful. If you are not truthful on your naturalization application or at the interview, your officer would determine that you do not possess the required good moral character that is needed to become a U.S. citizen. Without good moral character, sadly your application to naturalize will be denied.

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