United States Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) recently released a memorandum explaining how noncitizens that are close to losing their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can expedite their applications for naturalization. SSI is a government program that uses tax money to provide an income for individuals with low income or limited resources. For noncitizens, SSI has a time limit such that noncitizens can only receive SSI benefits for seven years. In most cases, a noncitizen legal permanent resident may not naturalize until they have been a legal permanent resident for five years. Combine this naturalization requirement with the length of time it often takes for USCIS to act on a naturalization application and there is a risk that many people will be faced with losing their SSI benefits.
In order to combat this risk, USCIS has provided a new procedure that allows noncitizens to expedite the evaluation of a naturalization application for a person whose SSI benefits are about to expire. If you have received a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) informing you that your SSI benefits will expire in a year before you apply for naturalization, then you must write “SSI” on the top of your N-400 (naturalization application form). You must also include a copy of the latest letter from the SSA that indicates when your SSI benefits will expire.
If you have already applied for naturalization and receive a notice from the SSA that your benefits will expire within a year, then there is another procedure for informing USCIS. You must send USCIS a packet containing a cover letter (explaining that you have applied for naturalization, your SSI benefits will expire in less than a year and your naturalization application has been pending for at least four months), a copy of your most recent N-400 and a copy of your most recent letter from the SSA indicating that your SSI benefits will expire in less than a year.
Our firm can help you with this somewhat confusing process. Please give us a call for free information on this important topic by calling 1-314-961-8200.