When Was the Last Time Someone Answered "Yes" to One of These Questions?

In order to become a U.S. citizen, one has to complete the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Form N-400.

How long do you think it has been since someone answered “yes” to question 12(c) in part 10(b):

Between March 23, 1933, and May 8, 1945, did you work for or associate in any way (either directly or indirectly) with any German, Nazi, or S.S. military unit, paramilitary unit, self-defense unit, vigilante unit, citizen unit, police unit, government agency or office, extermination camp, concentration camp, prisoner of war camp, prison, labor camp, or transit camp?

I also wonder what kind of person answers “yes” to this question:

Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with a terrorist organization?

I’m surprised we still bother to ask this question:

Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with The Communist Party?

There are some trickier questions, though, like this one for instance:

Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?

Not many people can truthfully answer “no” to that last question, but I presume everyone does anyway.

Is there any point to asking questions when you know that people will never give a “yes” answer?

It turns out that there actually is a point to such questions. U.S. law enforcement can use demonstrably false answers against individuals to prosecute or deport them. Indeed, some officers I was speaking with the other day said they wished there were more questions on terrorist activities on the N-400.


Back in 2001 you also had to answer 6 out of ten questions correctly, from a list of about 100 where they gave you both the questions and the correct answers to study.

I had a 10:30am or so appointment and got all ten general knowledge type questions answered correctly. The surprised interviewer told me that I was the first applicant who had passed the test today. I clarified that she did not mean 10 out of ten, but even 6 out of ten to meet the minimum.

And yes the other (are you a communist?) questions are stupid and the process inefficient and the fee charged was too high.


The same questions are on the Visa Waiver forms that non-residents have to fill out every time we visit. I wonder if the Pope has to tick yes to the first question?


I purchased a Dell laptop online a few years back and was required to tick boxes to declare that I was not planning on using the computer to engage in terrorist acts, overthrow democratically elected governments, create civil unrest and God knows what else.

And Hmmm @ #9, I am sorely tempted to tick 'yes' every time I see one of these questions! Do we know if anyone has said 'yes' just to see what happens, and what does happen?

King Politics

It kind of reminds me of the old days when the in the South, they'd ban blacks (and a few whites) for voting for lacking moral turpitude.



I went through the citizenship interview a couple of weeks ago, and while making small talk with the interviewer, I found out that the most difficult "question" she asks of her interviewees is the first one, where she asks them to raise their right hand.

Turns out, non-English speakers coach the hell out of themselves for the civics/history test, as well as the reading and writing test (sentence structure and probable words are supplied ahead of time to all interviewees), but if they do not speak English, and are sufficiently nervous about the interview, they will invariably not understand the request to raise their right hand.

In her words, "Now, I understand you're nervous. That is to be expected, and we understand that. But, I think that even if you were nervous, and I asked you to raise your right hand in your native language, you would know what I meant." Through this 30-second interaction, they demonstrate an inability to speak English (also part of the interview testing) and she is required to reject their application.

(Yes, I answered 'no' to all the questions above on my application, and again when she asked me during the interview. She skipped the Nazi party question. I guess being somewhat dark-skinned and 28 kind of disqualifies me.)



I think there's more to "Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with The Communist Party?" As far as I recall when my wife had to answer it, it continued with something like "or any other form of totalitarian government."

Anyway, despite her mother having been a card burning member of the communist party, she just put 'no'. It's a dumb question, but unless you want to make life very hard for yourself, you'll just give them what they want and get on with it.


This reminds me of my girlfriends' parents during highschool. They'd constantly ask me question there's no conceivable way I'd answer yes to regardless of if it was true.

Unfortunately they didn't listen when I tried to explain how the questions were pointless.

Mauricio Pastrana

Reminds me of the questions asked at airports: "Did anyone ask you to carry luggage for them?" or "Did you pack your bags yourself?", etc etc.



Why make the assumption that people will NEVER say "yes" to those questions?

That assumption is a bit too quick.


British Airways still asks the old "Three Questions" concerning your luggage. I'm fairly sure they never caught a terrorist or protected a plane using them and if a terrorist were trying to get on a BA plane, they'd have rehearsed their answers. Yet the company still spends shareholders' money asking the questions (each run takes a half-minute of a gate agent's time). All that just to say ridiculous questions and processes take on a life of their own, regardless of their cost.

Avi Rappoport

#22 simon -- brilliantly pointed out that the current Pope would have to answer yes to the Nazi question.


These questions get asked whenever you apply for a visa or visa-waiver, or for a green card, or for naturalization. Having done all but the last of the above, I know them well.

They removed the communist party one a while back. Since then my favourite is "Have you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude ... ?" How many native English speakers even know what moral turpitude is? (like absolute depravity, its not as much fun as it sounds).


When I was at university a friend of mine applied for a post at GCHQ, the branch of British intelligence that monitors communications. He had to answer a question along the lines of 'Have you ever been a member of a subversive organisation?" We spent a few minutes wondering if the Methodist Church qualified...


I think you are missing the point with this post. Clearly no one would fess up to any of these things. BUT if you lie on your INS form and are later found to be, say a communist, then you can be deported not for being a communist, but for lying on your INS form.

When you look at the questions that way, these questions make a lot of sense and reduce the hassle faced by the INS of getting someone out of the country.

M Wms

Do people really have pink and maroon eyes?

Kevin P.

As pointed out, the purpose of these questions is to enable the immigration benefit to be revoked at any point in the future if the applicant is proven to have lied.

US citizenship, in particular, once granted, cannot be revoked by the government except upon very narrow grounds. One of them is that the applicant obtained naturalization by fraud, by lying or by concealing a material fact.

There is, in fact, a Nazi concentration camp guard whose citizenship was revoked and he was deported. His citizenship was revoked because he lied about his Nazi past on his application forms.


Same kind of stupid questions to get a visa...

Kevin P.

Here a link:
Former Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Loses
U.S. Citizenship

...The complaint further alleged that his wartime Nazi service rendered him ineligible for a U.S. immigration visa and that he concealed that service when he applied for a visa and later for U.S. citizenship....


I'm confused about something. Is it illegal to be a communist in the US? If not, what business does the question have on the form?

Was it ever illegal?


New Application Question: Do you plan to obtain a drivers license in the United States and drive slow in the left hand lane?