Read the comments in any N-400 video and you’ll see that traffic tickets are probably the most common questions asked. Do I have to declare all my traffic tickets? How do I declare them? What happens if I forget a ticket?

In this video we’ll review (a) how the N-400 asks the traffic ticket question, (b) how you should answer the question, (c) what you should do if your answer is incomplete.

THE QUESTION

The form N-400 specifically asks..

“Have you EVER been arrested, cited, or detained by any law enforcement officer (including any immigration official or any official of the U.S. armed forces) for any reason?”

Source: Form N-400, Edition 09/17/2019, Part 12, Question 23, obtained from www.uscis.gov on 03/24/2021.

Let’s dissect this innocent-looking question that has caused so much grief to so many:

“ever”– Includes from the time you were born to the day that you naturalize.

“arrested”– skip because this video is about citations, not arrests or detentions.

“cited”– summoned to appear in a court of law.

“detained”– again we skip because this video is about citations, not arrests or detentions.

“Any law enforcement officer”: Texas, just like all the other states, is a scam with a proliferation of different types of peace officers and law enforcement agencies, and all of them can shake you down for more money for their jurisdictions by issuing citations.

So “any law enforcement officer” includes constables, sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, traffic enforcement agents, military police, school police, public transportation police, coast guard, federal and state park service wardens, and the list goes on.

“For any reason” – ALL citations, whether traffic related or not. So, citations for small misdemeanors and sanitation code violations are included. But again, this video is about traffic citations.

THE ANSWER

With respect to traffic citations, ideally you should declare all traffic citations ever received. And good luck remembering all. At the very minimum you should at least offer a “good faith recollection” of all your traffic citations including at a minimum…

  • The approximate date,
  • Location (city, state, and country)
  • reason for citation,
  • Outcome (amount of fine and whether you paid it or not).

And finally, ensure that you state so in the N-400, that the list is based on your best recollection.

MY EXPERIENCE

My experience has been that the examiners are very flexible with traffic tickets. They mainly want to know if you have paid them all. They’ll also take your word most of the time. You probably won’t have to submit any documentation either. As the N-400 instructions clearly explain, you only have to provide court disposition if…

  • The incident involved alcohol or drugs (which is not a traffic ticket);
  • The incident led to an arrest (which is not a traffic ticket);
  • The incident injured another person.
  • You were fined $500 or more.

ISN’T EASIER TO JUST WRITE “NONE”?

Don’t do it because you’re risking a needless denial based on “false testimony”, which is different than misrepresentation.

Now get ready for a legal explanation: You know that one of requirements for naturalization is a showing of GMC during the statutory period. There’s a section of the immigration laws [101(f)(6)] that essentially says that a person lacks GMC if the person offers “false testimony” during the statutory period. False testimony is a any false statement to a government official made while under oath with the intent to obtain an immigration benefit. It doesn’t have to me a big or “material” lie. Just about any lie will do.

So, is it worth risk a denial by writing NONE in the N-400? You tell me.

Again, the naturalization officers aren’t too interested in traffic citations because traffic citations rarely cause issues. So, reveal them. And if you feel really uneasy revealing them, then have a one-on-one consultation with your immigration lawyer.

CAN I UPDATE MY TRAFFIC CITATIONS AT THE INTERVIEW?

What if you get another traffic ticket in between the filing of the N-400 and the interview? Or maybe you forgot to mention a traffic ticket? Just tell the officer at the interview and the officer will happily incorporate your updates into your N-400. It’s no big deal.

CONCLUSION

So, what did we learn today? Basically, that you should at least do a good faith effort to declare all your traffic citations when you prepare your N-400. Chances are that you won’t have to submit any additional documentation for the reasons explained in the N-400 instructions. And finally, yes, you can update your list of traffic citations at the interview.