Delays and Denials of U.S. Citizenship / Naturalization Applications
Administrative Review of Denial of Citizenship Application
N-336 Request a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings
If your citizenship application is denied by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) examiner, you may ask for a hearing before a new immigration officer. The new immigration officer will review your citizenship application and conduct another examination, which may include a new test of your English ability and a new civics test. The new immigration officer may affirm the original decision to deny your application, or redetermine the original decision, in whole or in part.
You must file a request for an administrative review within 30 days of the date you are notified of the denial of your citizenship application. To request an administrative review, you must file Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings with the local USCIS district office that denied your citizenship application. You must include the filing fee with your request. The current filing fee is $605. If your request for an administrative review is properly filed, USCIS will schedule a review hearing within 180 days from the date your request was filed.
You may submit a brief and additional evidence in support of your N-336 request. A good brief should summarize how the citizenship rules apply to the facts of your case and explain why you are eligible for citizenship. If you think your naturalization application was improperly denied and would like to speak to an Austin immigration attorney about filing an N-336 appeal, please contact us.
Federal District Court Review of Denial of Citizenship Application
If your citizenship application remains denied after the administrative review, you may ask a federal district court to review your application. To seek judicial review of your application by a federal district court, you must file a petition for review in the federal district court where you live.
Judicial review by a federal district court of a denial of a citizenship application is de novo (from the beginning). The federal district court will make its own findings of fact regarding your citizenship application and draw its own conclusions of law. If you request, the court will also hold a hearing on the review of your citizenship application.
The regulations require that you file the petition for review within 120 days after the final administrative denial of your citizenship application. However, the Tenth Circuit (Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah) has applied a six-year statute of limitations to a petition for review.
Mandamus Lawsuits for Delays in Deciding Citizenship Applications
In a small percentage of cases, USCIS is delaying by years the granting or denying of citizenship applications, or the scheduling of an initial interview for a citizenship case. If you are in this situation, you can file a petition for mandamus relief with a federal district court. By filing for mandamus relief, you are asking the court to order USCIS to make a decision on your citizenship application. You are not asking the court to approve or deny your application.
A mandamus lawsuit must be filed in the federal district court that has jurisdiction over the director of the local USCIS office that has refused to take action on the application. The court may grant or deny your naturalization application, or the court may send your case back to USCIS with instructions to make a decision on your application.
USCIS blames the FBI name check process for the delay. Regardless of who is to blame, most FBI name checks are completed within six months, and no name check should drag on for years and years. The Immigration and Nationality Act requires USCIS to grant or deny your citizenship application within 120 days of your naturalization interview. Like courts around the country, the Fifth Circuit (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi) has ruled that whether the FBI name check is complete or not, the law requires that USCIS make a decision within 120 days of the interview.
If more than 120 days have passed since your citizenship interview and USCIS has failed to make a decision on your application or if you believe USCIS is unreasonably delaying the scheduling of your citizenship interview, please contact us.