US Citizenship Interview & Child Support


by Attorney Robert A. Pascal

Today another potential client has arrived to discuss his application for US citizenship. He is well qualified: no problem with the English language; never arrested for a crime; and meets all the guidelines for eligibility, but one. He hasn’t been current with his child support obligations. Unfortunately, failure to maintain support goes to the standard of GMC or “good moral character”, which is required to become a US citizen.

In completing the N-400 “Application For Naturalization”, you are asked in Part 10 & 11, specific questions regarding marital history and children. This is followed up with a question in Part 12, 30 H as to whether you have “failed to support your dependents or pay alimony.” It will be your burden to provide sufficient documentary evidence to the examiner at the interview that you have complied with your support obligation, especially for your children. It does not matter whether the support has been court ordered or not.

Chapter 5 – Conditional Bars for Acts in the Statutory Period – of the USCIS policy guidelines state the following:

K. Failure to Support Dependents

“An applicant An applicant who willfully failed or refused to support his or her dependents during the statutory period cannot establish GMC unless the applicant establishes extenuating circumstances. The GMC determination for failure to support dependents includes consideration of whether the applicant has complied with his or her child support obligations abroad in cases where it is relevant. Even if there is no court-ordered child support, the courts have concluded that parents have a moral and legal obligation to provide support for their minor children, and a willful failure to provide such support demonstrates that the individual lacks GMC. “

The Policy manual further details that “an applicant who fails to support dependents may lack GMC if he or she:

– Deserts a minor child;
-Fails to pay any support;
-obviously pays an insufficient amount.

This section continues with the requirement the USCIS officer identify the period of non compliance by the applicant and a review of all court records regarding child support.

If the applicant has not stayed current with his support obligations, the officer can consider “extenuating circumstances” for the non-payment. For example, unemployment, financial inability, the cause of unemployment, good faith efforts to pay, mistaken belief the support obligation had been satisfied, or a miscalculation of court ordered arrears.

It is therefore, extremely important to bring copies of all court ordered support obligations, copies of all payments made either cancelled checks, receipts, or money orders. In addition, a certified letter from the spouse acknowledging payment of the support obligations. If you do not have this evidence, the USCIS can deny your application for US Citizenship.

If you have a support issue, please do not hesitate to call us at (954) 522-4058. we represent clients across the US and abroad via telephone, Skype, internet or in office appointments. You can also learn more about Robert Pascal’s qualifications by visiting   his profile at