Tuesday, January 25, 2011

USCIS Issues New Naturalization Fact Sheet

USCIS released a new Fact Sheet on eligibility requirements to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pending N-400 Applications: A Serious Matter

Did you successfully pass your naturalization exam and then find yourself waiting months, even years, without another word from USCIS?

You are not alone. As an immigration attorney, I often hear from clients who have gotten so far as to pass their English and Civics test in connection with their application to become a naturalized citizen (Form N-400) only to find themselves waiting and waiting to be scheduled for their oath ceremony.

The government's answer to this delay is that the government is conducting mandatory FBI checks on applicants for citizenship, and are unable to schedule those applicants for their oath ceremony until the background checks are complete. Due to long wait times with the FBI, this wait can take many months.

There are three steps that you can take while you wait which should give you a better idea where the government is in adjudicating your application as well as piece of mind:

1. Wait six months from the date of your citizenship exam. This should be long enough for the government to obtain criminal background results from the FBI.

2. Call USCIS customer service at (800) 375-5283 to follow-up on your application. Make sure to have your Receipt Notice handy which contains your Receipt Number. This is the notice that you received from USCIS that acknowledged receipt of your N-400 application. The receipt notice should also contain your Alien Registration Number (also known as your "A number"), which customer service may request.

3. Schedule an InfoPass appointment. When you schedule an Infopass appointment, you will make an appointment to appear in person to meet with a USCIS customer service representative, with whom you can discuss your case.

If none of these options produce the answers that you are looking for and deserve, then you may want to consult with an immigration attorney. Make sure to keep a record of all of your communications with USCIS, as it may prove useful to show the steps that you took in the event of litigation. Your attorney may recommend filing an action in your state's district court, asking the judge to adjudicate the application or remand the case back to USCIS with instructions to reach a decision on your application within a certain number of days.

Under current U.S. immigration laws, it is important for lawful permanent residents to have the opportunity to became naturalized U.S. citizens because of the benefits and protection that U.S. citizenship provides. Once you are a U.S. citizen you can vote, apply for a U.S. passport, and petition for immediate relatives. There are certain jobs with the U.S. government that require U.S. citizenship. Moreover, until you are a U.S. citizen you are subject to the immigration laws, including the laws pertaining to removal and deportation. This means that even one mishap with the law can potentially land you in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Therefore, the failure of the U.S. government to complete applications for citizenship is a serious matter for which it must be held accountable.