One Reason You May Not Want to File for Citizenship

What’s one reason you might not want to file for your Naturalization N400?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, DC. Today, I’m in Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve an interview tomorrow at USCIS, but I was talking to [Amani 00:02:55] this weekend about immigration and about a case, a potential case, in which someone was wanting to file for their N400 right on time, right at the two year and nine month mark.

So, of course, once you get your Green Card, if it’s based on marriage, you can apply for citizenship two years and nine months after the start date on your Green Card. And sometimes, we have situations where people want to file right away and we advise the them not to file for naturalization. Well, when would we do that?

Well, the main reason we would do that is if there’s something shaky with the marriage. Remember, if you get that two-year Green Card, you’re going to have to file that I751, the petition for removal of conditions. And the vast majority of 751s are approved without an interview, I’d say only 20% or so actually have an interview. And so, if the marriage itself is shaky, if there’s problems with the marriage, if the couple are fighting, or if they’re not getting along, then the hope would be to get that 751 approved without an interview. But the one way that you can guarantee that you’re going to get an interview is to file an N400.

What do I mean by that? Well, the 751s take forever. So they used to take two or three months. There was rarely an interview and the cases were relatively easy to get approved. Now, USCIS is dragging these things out for two years, and the availability of filing for naturalization comes up. Well, there’s no way around getting an interview when you have an N400. So, if you file an N400 while your 751 is pending, you’re guaranteed to have an interview, at least on the N400. Typically, they’ll do them both together.

So, what I’m saying is, you could be inviting an interview on your two-year Green Card by filing the naturalization case sooner. Does that make sense? I hope it makes sense. It’s a little bit convoluted. But you have to think about the timeline. “I got my Green Card. I’m still married. I file the 751 on time. I’d like to get that 751 approved without an interview. So, I’m going to wait to get that 751 approved, hopefully without an interview, before I file for naturalization.

This is just good strategy. You’re just guaranteeing an interview if you file for the N400, because we know that you have to have your examination, you have to be interviewed, and you’re not going to get your citizenship without an interview. So, USCIS is almost forced into calling you in for an interview on the 751. So, if you want to avoid all that, just wait to file your N400. And that’s the one situation where you might think about not filing your N400 as soon as possible.

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Thanks a lot. Have a great day. [00:02:56]