Citizenship: Appeal Of Denial
Author: Citizenship Attorney Alena Shautsova
Recently I have had many people come to my office after they were denied citizenship and tried to appeal the decision themselves at an N-336 hearing. After the hearing, they were also denied. The big question I get after they tell me this story is "Is there anything I can do now?" Yes, after you have exhausted the N-336 Hearing, you may go to Federal Court for Federal District Court Review of Denial of Citizenship Application.
Once you have received a denial at your N-336 hearing, you have 120 days to file an appeal with your federal district court. The court will review your case from scratch and make its own findings. Usually this step is needed when an applicant has a criminal history or if the government considers you to lack a good moral character. All of this could easily be avoided by speaking with an attorney in the first place, making sure you submit a thorough application and if needed present a clear case of eligibility preemptively rather than wait for a denial in the first place.
Another common question since the entire online immigration system "went down:" My application has been pending or I had my interview over 6 months ago and still have received no response from USCIS. I have contacted every facility and still cannot get an answer as to why it is taking so long to get an answer. Can you help me to expedite the process? The short answer is Yes! After you or your attorney has contacted USCIS multiple times regarding the delay in your cases decision you can hire a Liaison to make the inquiries. The best Liaison’s for USCIS are members of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association). If your attorney is a member of AILA then this step will not be needed. "Sue em, SUE EM ALL!!" File a Lawsuit. A Madamus Lawsuit commonly referred to as a writ of madamus can be filed to compel USCIS to execute a decision for your case.
The USCIS is required under INA to act within 120 days of your interview to make a decision. If this is the situation you are faced with a Madamus Lawsuit may be exactly what you need. We always recommend to wait 180 days for USCIS to issue a decision, as a madamus lawsuit cannot force USCIS to issue a positive decision only, a decision whether positive or negative. If your case has been pending like some who come to my office for over 3 years, this is most likely your best option.
A common excuse for USCIS to delay these cases is the FBI name checks, which cross reference your information submitted into their databases to determine whether or not you are a threat to the US. These take no more than 6 months to complete hence our recommendation of 180 days wait time after your interview. Also, it has been ruled by the Fifth Circuit that whether an FBI name check is complete or incomplete, USCIS must make a decision within 120 days.