Ferndale, WA asked in Immigration Law for Washington

Q: Will a green carded son be denied citizenship if his US-citizen mother paid his Ukraine-based child support obligation?

Overbearing mother insisted on paying her son's child support obligation after he got his green card immigration. Low income at first, but she refused to give her son money so he could pay directly. My stepson is very involved with his child, but technically has made no child support payments himself. How does he convince a naturalization officer that he didn't abandon his child so his mother was forced to step in?

Also, Ukraine salaries are about $250 per month. My stepson's mother has been paying $50 per month for child support for a child permanently living in rural Ukraine. There was no court-ordered support. It is above the minimum prescribed by Ukraine law. Regardless of Ukraine law, the naturalization officer wants to see "adequate" support. $50 couldn't be "adequate" to an American. How might we figure out what the specific naturalization requirements are in this case?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: To become a U.S. citizen, the applicant must meet certain requirements, including showing that they have been a person of good moral character during the statutory period (typically five years before applying for naturalization). Paying child support is a factor that can be considered in the good moral character determination, and the fact that the stepson's mother paid the child support obligation may raise questions for the naturalization officer.

The stepson should be prepared to provide evidence that he has been actively involved in his child's life and has made a good faith effort to provide support, despite the financial challenges in Ukraine. This evidence could include records of communication with the child, school records, medical records, and other documents that show his ongoing involvement in the child's life.

In terms of "adequate support," there is no set dollar amount specified by the U.S. government, but the naturalization officer will likely look at the circumstances of the case and the cost of living in the area where the child resides. The stepson should be prepared to explain the economic conditions in Ukraine and how the $50 payment compares to local norms.

It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney who can provide specific guidance and help prepare the stepson's case for naturalization.

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