For Individuals Who Want To Come And Stay In The U.S.
When should I start worrying about whether my naturalization case is taking too long to be decided by USCIS?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We represent a lot of naturalization clients. We also get a lot of calls and visit to our website will people wondering “How long is too long for a naturalization case to take to be approved or denied by the Immigration Service? And what should I do if I feel like my case has been talking too long?” That’s a good question. It’s an important question, and a lot of people get really anxious when they file for naturalization. When they want to get their citizenship, especially in an election years. En Español.
Typically what happens when you file for naturalization is you get a biometrics appointment about 2 weeks after your case has been received, and then they do a background check. Eventually, you get set for an interview. Most interviews are taking about 5 or 6 months to get scheduled. Then, when you have your interview, the Immigration Service should not take that long to decide your case. The law says that if 120 days have gone by since the date of your interview, and you’ve not had a decision, then you have certain rights that kick in. The Immigration Service is keenly aware of this. They used to schedule interviews as a matter of course. I think the timing of it was set from the date of filing, or else from the date of the biometrics, the fingerprinting. Now, they often wait to schedule the interview until the background check is done, until the FBI name check is done, and they’ve run you through all of their criminal records checks.
We have been seeing more and more of a delay on the scheduling of the interview. The reason for that is that the interview starts a clock, a 4 month clock, a 120 day clock that says that if you’ve not received a decision in 120 days then you have the right to go into federal court and ask a judge to naturalize you. The judge can decide on his or her own whether or not you deserve to be a citizen, whether you’re a person of good moral character. They can direct the Immigration Service to naturalize you, or they can send the case back to the Immigration Service with an order that they decided within a certain amount of time. The Immigration Service is keenly aware of this 120 day deadline.
Once you’ve had that interview, and if you’ve experienced a delay of more than 4 months, that’s when you should start worrying. A lot of people when they have their interview will get a letter that says, “Congratulations. You’ve been approved,” or it will say that a decision cannot yet be made about your application. A lot of the visitors to our websites get really freaked out about this, and I understand why. Really, you shouldn’t because in most situations these days, you’re not going to go an outright approval at the interview in most situations. Often times, you’re going to get that letter than says basically, “I have to give it to a supervisor to have them sign off on it.”
In our mind, if 6 or 8 weeks have passed since the interview, then you might start worrying, but it’s really at that 120 day mark that you really want to start thinking about what your options are. We recommend that you not wait too terribly long in most cases after the 120 days. If you want to, you can file an action in federal court, and you can ask the judge to naturalize you. The Immigration Service doesn’t necessarily like having a federal judge look over their shoulder. Filing a lawsuit generally makes them move quicker. They know that the law says that the case is sort of out of their hands once the lawsuit’s been filed.
We really encourage you that if you’ve had your interview, don’t stress out too much if you don’t get a decision right away. Don’t stress out if it’s been a month of 2. Often times it depends on the naturalization ceremony schedule. They’re trying to figure out when they can get a group of people together to naturalize, and it might not be attributed to your case at all.
If you’ve been waiting 4, 5, or 6 months and if you had a strange vibe at your interview, then you might really want to think about suing them and filing that action in federal court. This is something that we do in our office all the time. We have a tremendous amount of experience with it. I even recently spoke to a group of about 100 immigration attorneys out in Las Vegas about it. It’s something that we’re very well equipped to handle, that we do a lot of. Don’t let that 120 days pass without exploring all of your options. If you want to know about this or if you have questions about it, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you liked this video, please be sure to subscribe on our YouTube channel, and keep an eye out for future videos.