Chapter 7 - Attachment to the Constitution

A. Attachment to the Constitution

An applicant for naturalization must show that he or she has been and continues to be a person attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during the statutorily prescribed period. [1] “Attachment” is a stronger term than “well disposed” and implies a depth of conviction, which would lead to active support of the Constitution. [2] 

Attachment includes both an understanding and a mental attitude including willingness to be attached to the principles of the Constitution. An applicant who is hostile to the basic form of government of the United States, or who does not believe in the principles of the Constitution, is not eligible for naturalization. [3] 

To be admitted to citizenship, naturalization applicants must take the Oath of Allegiance in a public ceremony. At that time, an applicant declares his or her attachment to the United States and its Constitution. [4] To be admitted to citizenship:

  • The applicant must understand that he or she is taking the Oath freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;

  • The applicant must understand that he or she is sincerely and absolutely renouncing all foreign allegiance;

  • The applicant must understand that he or she is giving true faith and allegiance to the United States, its Constitution and laws; and

  • The applicant must understand that he or she is discharging all duties and obligations of citizenship including military and civil service when required by the law.

The applicant’s true faith and allegiance to the United States includes supporting and defending the principles of the Constitution by demonstrating an acceptance of the democratic, representational process established by the U.S. Constitution, and the willingness to obey the laws which result from that process. [5] 

B. Selective Service Registration

1. Males Required to Register

In general, males must register with Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday but not after reaching 26 years of age. The U.S. government suspended the registration in April of 1975 and resumed it in 1980. An applicant who refused to or knowingly and willfully failed to register for Selective Service negates his disposition to the good order and happiness of the United States, attachment to the principles of the Constitution, good moral character, and willingness to bear arms on behalf of the United States. [6] 

Applicants may register for Selective Service at their local post office, return a Selective Service registration card received by mail, or online at the Selective Service System website. [7] Confirmation of registration may be obtained by calling (847) 688-6888 or online at sss.gov. The officer may also accept other persuasive evidence presented by an applicant as proof of registration. 

USCIS assists with the registration process by transmitting the appropriate data to the Selective Service System (SSS) for male applicants between the ages of 18 and 26 who apply for adjustment of status. After registering the eligible male, Selective Service will send an acknowledgement to the applicant that can be used as his official proof of Selective Service registration.

2. Failure to Register for Selective Service

USCIS will deny a naturalization application when the applicant refuses to register with Selective Service or has knowingly and willfully failed to register during the statutory period. [8] The officer may request for the applicant to submit a status information letter and registration acknowledgement card before concluding that he failed to register.

The status information letter will indicate whether a requirement to register existed. The applicant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that his failure to register was not a knowing or willful act. [9] Failure on the part of USCIS or SSS to complete the process on behalf of the applicant, however, will not constitute a willful failure to register on the part of the applicant.

The denial notice in cases where willful failure to register is established may also show that in addition to failing to register, the applicant is not well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. This determination depends on the applicant’s age at the time of filing the application and up until the time of the oath: 

Applicants Under 26 Years of Age

The applicant is generally ineligible. 

Applicants Between 26 and 31 Years of Age

The applicant may be ineligible for naturalization. USCIS will allow the applicant an opportunity to show that he did not knowingly or willfully fail to register, or that he was not required to do so.

Applicants Over 31 Years of Age

The applicant is eligible. This is the case even if the applicant knowingly and willfully failed to register because the applicant’s failure to register would be outside of the statutory period.

3. Males Not Required to Register

The following classes of males are not required to register for Selective Service:

  • Males over the age of 26;

  • Males who did not live in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 years;

  • Males who lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 years but who maintained lawful nonimmigrant status for the entire period; and

  • ​Males born after March 29, 1957 and before December 31, 1959. [10] 

C. Draft Evaders

In general, the law prohibits draft evaders and deserters from the U.S. armed forces during wartime from naturalizing for lack of attachment to the Constitution and favorable disposition to the good order of the United States. [11] 

A conviction by a court martial or a court of competent jurisdiction for a military desertion or a departure from the United Statesto avoid a military draft will preclude naturalization. [12] USCIS may obtain such information from the applicant’s testimony during the naturalization examination (interview), security checks, and from the Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426). [13] 

An applicant who admits to desertion during wartime, but who has not been convicted of desertion by court martial or court of competent jurisdiction may still be eligible for naturalization. [14] An applicant’s military record may list him or her as a deserter but without a final conviction.

D. Membership in Certain Organizations

The officer will review an applicant’s record and testimony during the interview on the naturalization application to determine whether he or she was ever a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:

  • The Communist Party;

  • Any other totalitarian party; or

  • A terrorist organization.

Current and previous membership in these organizations may indicate a lack of attachment to the Constitution and an indication that the applicant is not well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. [15] Membership in these organizations may also raise issues of lawful admission, good moral character, [16] or may even render the applicant removable. [17] 

The burden rests on the applicant to prove that he or she has an attachment to the Constitution and that he or she is well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States, among the other naturalization requirements. An applicant who refuses to testify or provide documentation relating to membership in such organizations has not met the burden of proof. USCIS may still deny the naturalization application under such grounds in cases where such an applicant was not removed at the end of removal proceedings. [18] 

1. Communist Party Affiliation

An applicant cannot naturalize if any of the following are true within 10 years immediately preceding his or her filing for naturalization and up until the time of the Oath of Allegiance:

  • The applicant is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party; 

  • The applicant is or has advocated communism or the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship; 

  • The applicant is or has been a member of or affiliated with an organization that advocates communism or the establishment in the United States of a totalitarian dictatorship, either through its own utterance or through any written or printed matter published by such organization; 

  • The applicant is or has been a subversive, or a member of, or affiliated with, a subversive organization; 

  • The applicant is knowingly publishing or has published any subversive written or printed matter, or written or printed matter advocating communism;

  • The applicant is knowingly circulating or has circulated, or knowingly possesses or has possessed for the purpose of circulating, subversive written or printed matter, or written or printed matter advocating communism; or 

  • The applicant is or has been a member of, or affiliated with, any organization that publishes or circulates, or that possesses for the purpose of publishing or circulating, any subversive written or printed matter, or any written or printed matter advocating communism.

2. Exemptions to Communist Party Affiliation

The burden is on the applicant to establish eligibility for an exemption. An applicant may be eligible for naturalization if he or she establishes that: 

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was involuntary;

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was without awareness of the nature or the aims of the organization, and was discontinued when the applicant became aware of the nature or aims of the organization;

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was terminated prior to his or her attaining the age of 16;

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was terminated more than 10 years prior to the filing for naturalization;

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was by operation of law; or

  • The applicant’s membership or affiliation was necessary for purposes of obtaining employment, food rations, or other essentials of living. [19] 

Even if participating without awareness of the nature or the aims of the organization, the applicant’s participation must have been minimal in nature. The applicant must also demonstrate that membership in the covered organization was necessary to obtain the essentials of living like food, shelter, clothing, employment, and an education, which were routinely available to the rest of the population. 

For purposes of this exemption, higher education qualifies as an essential of living only if the applicant can establish the existence of special circumstances which convert the need for higher education into a need as basic as the need for food or employment, and that he or she participated only to the minimal extent necessary to receive the essentials of living. 

However, unless the applicant can show special circumstances that establish a need for higher education as basic as the need for food or employment, membership to obtain a college education is not excusable for obtaining an essential of living. [20] 

3. Nazi Party Affiliation

Applicants who were affiliated with the Nazi government of Germany or any government occupied by or allied with the Nazi government of Germany, either directly or indirectly, are ineligible for admission into the United States and permanently barred from naturalization. [21] The applicant is responsible for providing any evidence or documentation to support a claim that he or she is not ineligible for naturalization based on involvement in the Nazi Party.

4. Persecution and Genocide

An applicant who has engaged in persecution or genocide is permanently barred from naturalization because he or she is precluded from establishing good moral character. [22] Additionally, an applicant who engaged in persecution or genocide prior to admission as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) would have been inadmissible. Such an applicant would not have lawfully acquired LPR status in accordance with all applicable provisions and would be ineligible for naturalization. [23] Such persons may also be deportable. [24] 

5. Membership or Affiliation with Terrorist Organizations

Information concerning an applicant’s membership in a terrorist organization implicates national security issues. Such information is important in determining the applicant’s eligibility in terms of the good moral character and attachment requirements.

Footnotes


1. [^] See INA 316(a). See 8 CFR 316.11.

2. [^] See In re Shanin, 278 F. 739 (D.C. Mass. 1922).

3. [^] See Allan v. United States, 115 F.2d 804 (9th Cir. 1940).

4. [^] See INA 337. See 8 CFR 337.1. See Part J, Oath of Allegiance [12 USCIS-PM J].

5. [^] The oath requirements may be modified for religious objections or waived for applicants with an inability to comprehend the oath. Prior to November 6, 2000, certain disabled applicants were precluded from naturalization because they could not personally express intent or voluntary assent to the oath requirement. However, subsequent legislation authorized USCIS to waive the oath requirements for anyone who has a medical condition constituting physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that makes him or her unable to understand or communicate an understanding of the meaning of the oath. An applicant for whom USCIS granted an oath waiver is considered to have met the requirement of attachment to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. See Pub. L. 106-448 (PDF) (November 6, 2000). See Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers [12 USCIS-PM J.3].

6. [^] See INA 316(a) and INA 337(a)(5)(A). See the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, Pub. L. 76-783 (September 16, 1940).

7. [^] See sss.gov.

8. [^] Failure to register is not a permanent bar to naturalization.

9. [^] See 50 U.S.C. 3811.

10. [^] See Section 1-101 of Proclamation 4771 of July 2, 1980 (PDF), 94 Stat. 3775. See 50 U.S.C. 3806. See Section 3(a) of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, Pub. L. 76-783, 54 Stat. 885, 885 (September 16, 1940). See 50 U.S.C. 3802(a).

11. [^] See INA 316(a)(3)

12. [^] See INA 314.

13. [^] See Part I, Military Members and their Families [12 USCIS-PM I].

14. [^] See State v. Symonds, 57 Me. 148 (1869). See Holt v. Holt, 59 Me. 464 (1871). See McCafferty v. Guyer, 59 Pa. 109 (1868).

15. [^] See INA 313 and INA 316. See 8 CFR 316.

16. [^] See Part F, Good Moral Character [12 USCIS-PM F].

17. [^] See INA 237(a)(4).

18. [^] See INA 313. See the Legal Decisions and Opinions of the Office of Immigration Litigation Case Summaries - No. 93-380, Price v. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, seeking review of Price v. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 962 F.2d 836 (9th Cir. 1992).

19. [^] See INA 313(d).

20. [^] See Langhammer v. Hamilton, 194 F. Supp. 854, 857 (1961).

21. [^] See INA 212(a)(3)(E).

22. [^] See INA 101(a)(42)INA 101(f), and INA 208(b)(2)(A)(i). See Part F, Good Moral Character, Chapter 4, Permanent Bars to Good Moral Character (GMC), Section C, Persecution, Genocide, Torture, or Severe Violations of Religious Freedom [12 USCIS-PM F.4(C)].

23. [^] See INA 318. See Chapter 2, LPR Admission for Naturalization [12 USCIS-PM D.2].

24. [^] See INA 212(a)(3)(E).

INA 313, 8 CFR 313 - Prohibition upon the naturalization of persons opposed to government or law, or who favor totalitarian forms of government

INA 314 - Ineligibility to naturalization of deserters from U.S. armed forces

INA 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

INA 318 - Prerequisite to naturalization, burden of proof

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 335, 8 CFR 335 - Investigation of applicants, examination of applications

INA 336, 8 CFR 336 - Hearings on denials of applications for naturalization

INA 337, 8 CFR 337 - Oath of renunciation and allegiance

Appendices


No appendices available at this time.

Technical Update - Clarifying Intent to Reside in United States for Naturalization Purposes

January 05, 2017

This technical update clarifies that naturalization applicants are not required to intend to reside permanently in the United States after becoming U.S. citizens. This update is in accordance with current statutes; prior to 1994, a person who became a naturalized U.S. citizen was expected to hold the intention of residing permanently in the United States. See Section 104 of the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994, Pub. L. 103-416 (October 25, 1994).

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 

POLICY ALERT - Security-Related Positions Abroad

June 10, 2013

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address amendments to section 1059(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2006 by Public Law 112-227.

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 

POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

January 07, 2013

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 
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