Should I file my N-400 if my I-751 is taking too long?
Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
In today’s video, we’re talking about scenarios where someone is married to a US citizen, they file for the temporary green card because they’ve been married less than two years, they received that temporary green card, and then they wait a year and nine months or a year and 10 months, and then they filed their I-751 petition to remove conditions.
So that’s the form that you file along with updated marital evidence to show that you’re still married to your US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse that the relationship is ongoing and that you want to get that 10 year green card.
You want to get the conditions on your lawful permanent residence removed.
Now, in the old days, these I-751s would take two or three months. Now they’re taking 18 months. So when you filed the I-751, you get that automatic extension letter, which serves as your extension of your green card.
That’s how you travel, it’s how you get updated, driver’s license, those kinds of things. And what we’re talking about today is, well, you can apply if you’re married to a US citizen, you can file that I-751 two years, or actually three months early so a year and nine months after you receive the green card.
And then a year later, the law says that you can apply for citizenship. So the question is, do I wait until my 751 is finished and then file for my N-400 or should I go ahead and file for naturalization on the very first possible day? So of course you can.
And so not every cases of the same, but you can file your N-400 on that very first day at the two year and nine month anniversary of the start date on your green card.
And when we started realizing what was happening, that these I-751’s were taking too long, and that that was slowing people down from applying for naturalization, we were sort of angry.
And we said, “Let’s just go ahead and file the N-400 and see what happens.” Well, now a couple of years into this new normal, we sort of started backing off on that.
And this is really hard for me because I always want people to file for an immigration benefit as soon as they are able. And you can, like I said, still do that. And there might be situations where you want to do that. You might have a family member back home that you want to sponsor.
You want to get a case on file more quickly and so I get that. So there will be certainly times where you’re going to want to file that N-400 on the very first day, but what we’ve been seeing for the last year and a half, two years is that these cases do not connect to each other.
And what I mean by that is that we’ve seen situation after situation where we’ve shown up for what should be a combined I-751 and N-400 interview and the officers will come out and we’ve heard all different scenarios.
We’ve heard them say, “Well, we have the I-751, but we don’t have the N-400.” or “We have the N-400, but we don’t have the I-751.” I’ve also, on multiple occasions, had officers tell me, “Well, I haven’t been trained on how to do a 751 interview.”
Because of course, in the old days, they didn’t have interviews for these, but the President’s requiring interviews for just about everything.
So now we’ve been telling people, “Yeah, it might be a good idea to just wait to get the 751 approved first because it just sort of seems to overwhelm the system. It’s pathetic. It’s sad that these guys can’t pull this off, but it might be in your best interest and, more importantly, for your sake of peace of mind to wait and file the N-400 til after the 751 is approved.”
We’ve just seen so many circuits go sort of haywire when the N-400, sometimes the N-400 gets scheduled for an interview faster than the I-751.
So we’ve seen all kinds of scenarios where this just doesn’t work so you probably really want to not do that and you probably don’t want to file the N-400 unless you have, like I said, some of those special circumstances that we talked about earlier in this video.
I hope this makes sense. If you have questions about the interplay between the I-751 Petition for Removal of Conditions and the N-400 Application for Naturalization, give us a call (314) 961-8200.
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