Child support and naturalization

Ang green card holder ay maaaring mag-file ng N-400 Application for Naturalization kung ang kanyang green card ay may 5 taon na bago ang filing (3 taon kung ang green card ay nakuha dahil sa kasal sa U.S. citizen at sila ay nagsasama pa din). Ang aplikante para sa naturalization ay kailangang magpakita na sa statutory period na 5 taon bago ang filing, siya ay may good moral character (GMC). Kung ang aplikante ay kusang hindi nagbigay ng suporta sa kanyang mga anak sa loob ng statutory period, maaaring masabi na siya ay walang GMC. Kailangang magpakita ang aplikante ng extenuating circumstances para sa hindi pagtupad ng obligasyon na magbigay ng child support. Kasama sa obligasyon ng child support ang mga child support order sa ibang bansa o sa labas ng U.S.

Ayon sa mga korte, kahit walang court order para sa child support, ang mga magulang ay may legal at moral na obligasyon para magbigay ng child support sa kanilang mga anak. Ayon din sa mga korte, ang hindi pagbigay ng suporta ay nagpapakita na ang aplikante ay walang GMC.

Kung ang aplikante para sa naturalization ay may arrears o pagkukulang sa pagbigay ng child support, o ang kanyang binigay na child support ay hindi naaayon sa court- ordered child support, kailangan niya ipakita kung magkano ang kanyang arrears, kung gaano siya katagal na hindi nagbayad ng child support, at ang dahilan sa hindi pagbayad ng child support. Ang mga sumusunod ay maaaring maging konsiderasyon sa hindi pagbayad ng child support: (1) ang aplikante ay walang trabaho at walang pinansyal na abilidad para sa pagbayad ng child support; (2) mga dahilan kung bakit walang trabaho ang aplikante; (3) ebidensya ng good-faith effort para magbigay ng child support; (4) kung inakala ng aplikante na wala na siyang obligasyon na magbigay ng child support dahil tapos na ang obligasyong ito; at (5) kung ang arrears ay dahil sa miscalculation ng court-ordered support at arrears.

Kung ang aplikante ay makakapagpakita ng extenuating circumstances sa hindi pagbayad ng child support, maaari pa ring magkaroon ng determinasyon ang USCIS na siya ay may GMC.

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A green card holder can apply for naturalization if he has held permanent resident status for at least 5 years prior to the filing (3 years if green card was based on marriage to a U.S. citizen and applicant is still married to U.S. citizen). An applicant filing for naturalization must show that during the statutory period of 5 years prior to filing he was a person of good moral character (GMC). If the applicant has willfully failed or refused to support his dependents during the statutory period, he cannot establish GMC unless he shows extenuating circumstances. Child support obligations may also include child support obligations and child support orders abroad.

Even if there is no court-ordered child support for the applicant for naturalization, the Courts have held that parents have a legal and moral obligation to provide support for their dependents, and a willful failure to provide such support shows that the naturalization applicant lacks GMC.

If the applicant for naturalization has not fully-paid child support pursuant to a court order and has arrears, the applicant must show how long there was non-payment, the current arrears due, and the circumstances for the non-payment and arrears. The following circumstances may be considered by USCIS in determining GMC despite the child support arrears: (1) applicant’s unemployment and financial inability to pay child support; (2) cause of the unemployment and financial inability to support dependents; (3) evidence of good-faith effort to reasonably provide child support; (4) whether the nonpayment was due to an honest but mistaken belief that the duty to support minor child had terminated; and (5) whether the nonpayment was due to miscalculation of court-ordered support and arrears.

If the applicant for naturalization is able to show extenuating circumstances, a failure to support dependents will not adversely affect GMC determination.

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ATTY. RHEA SAMSON is the principal of SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C. She has been a member of the State Bar of California for over 15 years and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for over 20 years. Atty. Samson received her Legal Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo Law School. She was a Professor for over 10 years, teaching Obligations and Contracts, Labor Laws and Social Legislation and Taxation Law. Atty Samson is the author of The Law on Obligations and Contracts (2016), Working with Labor Laws-Revised Edition (2014) and Working with Labor Laws (2005).

SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C., 3580 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1710, Los Angeles, CA 90010; Phone: (213) 274-4561; Email: info@samsonlawfirmpc.com.

Atty. Rhea Samson
Atty. Rhea Samson

ATTY. RHEA SAMSON is the principal of SAMSON LAW FIRM, PC. She has been a member of the State Bar of California for over 15 years and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for over 20 years. Atty. Samson received her Legal Management degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and her Juris Doctor degree from the Ateneo Law School. She was a Professor for over 10 years, teaching Obligations and Contracts, Labor Laws and Social Legislation and Taxation Law. Atty. Samson is the author of The Law on Obligations and Contracts (2016), Working with Labor Laws-Revised Edition (2014) and Working with Labor Laws (2005). Visit our office at SAMSON LAW FIRM, P.C., 3580 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1710, Los Angeles, CA 90010; Phone: (213) 381-5710; Email: info@samsonlawfirmpc.com.

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