Citizenship Denials and Delays
Even though the N-400 naturalization form is one of the least complicated aspects of immigration, a sizeable 10% of applicants find that they’ve been denied citizenship each year. If you’ve received a citizenship application denial or a delay, it can be easy to panic.
Luckily, unlike many different kinds of visas, an application denial can be appealed and in some cases revoked. This can be accomplished in a number of ways and usually warrant the help of a qualified legal professional to help you choose which route is the most appropriate for your situation.
If you’re in a situation where you’ve had your naturalization application denied, there is the possibility of completing an N-336 form or a “Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” form. Depending on the circumstances and reasons for your initial naturalization application denial, the N-336 form can be your ticket to an appeal.
Once USCIS issues you a citizenship application denial, you can then request a hearing with a different immigration officer. This new immigration officer will then conduct a review of your application. After that, you may be subjected to an additional civics test and English Ability exam. When review and tests have been completed, the new immigration officer will have the option to either reconfirm the first decision or revoke it.
Administrative Review Filing Process:
- You must apply for an administrative review within 30 days of the original denial.
- Then you need to submit the N-336 form (Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings). This must be completed at the same USCIS district office that initially denied the application.
- Include a filing fee of $605.
- You can file extra supplementary documentation to support the N-336 form. You may also file a short summary describing your eligibility and compliance with citizenship laws.
- If the administrative review request has been filed correctly, you will receive a message from the USCIS. The message will contain a date with the scheduled hearing.
Federal District Court Review Request
If an additional naturalization application denial occurs after filing a request for an administrative review, you may then submit the application to the Federal District Court. An officer other than the one that initially interviewed you or the one that denied you will then conduct new findings related to the naturalization application and will determine if it abides by U.S. immigration law.
If you choose to take this route, you will be mandated to submit a petition for review to a local federal district court. You need to do this within 120 days of the administrative denial and your hearing will be scheduled within 180 days of your request.
Common Causes of Citizenship Application Denial
Hopefully, the USCIS included its reasons for your denial in the letter you received. If that isn’t the case or if you have not yet submitted your N-400, here are some common grounds for citizenship application denial:
- English and Civics test failures.
- Failure to be physically present in the US for at least 30 months prior to application.
- Lack of good moral character.
While the first two items on the list may be self-explanatory, the last factor can easily be misunderstood. The USCIS uses good moral character (or GMC) to cover a variety of factors that can seriously impact your application status.
You could have your application denied due to a DUI, divorce, adultery, fraud, tax evasion, misdemeanors and felonies, failure to provide child support, lying on your application, or if you obtained your green card through fraudulent means.
In order to help mitigate the chances of a citizenship application denial, it is important to review every factor that could be used against you with a designated legal professional before applying.
Delays in Citizenship Applications Determination:
The USCIS is mandated to provide a decision on the citizenship application within 120 days of the naturalization interview. In rare cases in which the USCIS delays a decision regarding your application for a long period of time, the applicant has the option to submit a mandamus relief petition or mandamus lawsuit.
A mandamus lawsuit or mandamus action is a relatively drastic action that is there to force a decision on your application if the USCIS has been inactive in processing your request. If there has been a considerable delay after the interview and it is beginning to severely impair your opportunities, you may want to consider a mandamus action.
It is important to note that this does not guarantee that your application will be accepted, only that it will be decided. It also does not provide any compensation for the time already lost. If an opportunity has come and gone (such as a time-sensitive business investment or a maximum age requirement) then it will not be considered in the mandamus action.
It is always advisable to consult with a legal counselor before making any such decision. Filing a lawsuit against a branch of the United States Government is an option that should only be considered after all other options have been exhausted.
This must be filed with the federal district court that has authority over the applicant’s USCIS office. The court then orders the indicated USCIS office to take action on the pending application.
If the local USCIS office refuses to make a judgment on the petition, the court has the authorization to grant or deny the application. Another option possible for the court is to transfer the case back to the USCIS, accompanied with specific orders to take action on the application.
How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help:
As with any legal situation, attempting to do things yourself is usually not recommended. Seeking the guidance and help of professional legal representation and counseling can be the difference between success and failure in the department of immigration law.
Our attorneys can help with citizenship application denials and delays in two ways:
- If the applicant has not received a USCIS decision after 120 days from the naturalization interview, contact our skilled immigration attorneys for legal representation.
- Our immigration lawyers are experienced in assisting clients with Denial of Citizenship Application cases. We understand the necessary steps and documentation required for filing.