What do I do when my naturalization case gets denied?
If your naturalization case gets denied, you first must seek administrative review of that decision by filing an N-336. The form is relatively easy to fill out, but you need to explain the reason(s) why you should have been approved for citizenship. The N-336 is then sent back to the local field office and you have another interview with a different immigration office. N-336s are not typically approved because the officer is being asked to say that their friend down the hall made a mistake. It is a high hurdle.
But you have to file an N-336 to keep the case alive so that you can appeal to federal court. The law allows you to have a judge decide independnetly of the immigration service whether or not you deserve citizenhsip. This video explains the appeals process.
What do I do if my citizenship case gets denied? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney here in Saint Louis, Missouri. From time to time naturalization cases get denied. For various reasons the USCIS may determine that you’re a person of poor moral character, that you haven’t lived in the United States as a green card holder for long enough, or for a variety of reasons. It’s really, there’s so much discretion associated with the Immigration Services determination on naturalization, that there are a wide range of reasons why these cases get denied.
The question is, what do you do if your case has been denied? Well, one is you can wait the required statutory period to reapply. Sometimes it will be a full 5years, sometimes it’ll be less than that if the basis for your denial was some kind of a criminal matter. Typically the Immigration Services will require that 5years pass from the end of whatever sentence you receive for a criminal sentence, criminal case.
So what do you do then? Well, the first thing you do is you file what’s called an N336. It’s an administrative appeal of the denial of your citizenship application. In a lot of ways this is really just a rubber stamp of the underlining application. A lot of times you’re not going to get relief at the N336 stage. The reason for that is that in most jurisdictions, when you file an administrative appeal through this N336 of your denied application, it just goes down the hall to another officer for re-adjudication. It’s really sort of a joke, because in a lot of ways these immigration officers just are being asked to determine whether or not their friend down the hall made a mistake.
You can’t present additional evidence at that stage, but for the most part we find these cases are typically just a rubber stamp. But you have to file the N336 in order to get to the next stage where there is actually a chance for relief. Because if your N400 naturalization case is denied and if the N336 administrate of appeal is denied, then you have the right to go into federal court and have a federal judge who doesn’t work for the Immigration Services, doesn’t work for the department of Homeland Security, who’s an independent judge and who’s been appointed for life by the President and confirmed by the Senate, who has no political aspirations or leanings, who can adjudicate all over again whether or not you deserve citizenship.
That’s a real powerful tool in the back pocket of an immigration attorney, because if you know the law and if you know that the Immigration Services made a mistake, that’s really your opportunity to get relief. That’s where you can raise issues all over again, and to have a judge look at all of the evidence and determine whether or not you are entitled to citizenship. They don’t have to defer it to the Immigration Services, and they get to decide it on their own.
The nice thing about it is that you should be entitled to discovery, you should be able to get the evidence that the Immigration Services used to claim that you are not entitled to citizenship, and you should be able to confront that evidence. A lot of times that doesn’t happen in the underlying naturalization process.
Because the law allows you to file that action, that’s really your best chance of relief. It is expensive. You have to pay the filing fee in the federal court and you have to sometimes hire a lawyer to do that, but it really might be your only chance at getting naturalized anytime soon.
We encourage you to explore that option if your case has been denied, or if you’re worried your case is going to be denied. Think about filing suit in a federal court later on down the line, and it’s especially true if your case has real merit and you think that there’s been an injustice done.
Just because the Immigration Services says that you don’t deserve naturalization doesn’t mean they’re right, and doesn’t mean that they’re not just sticking their heads in the sand. You have the right to have an independent party decide for you whether or not you’re entitled the citizenship. You don’t have to listen what the Immigration Services says.
A lot of immigration attorneys are sort of afraid to take this next step where you actually challenge the adjudicators and challenge the local field office of USCIS to explain why they ruled the way they ruled and to show their cards.
We don’t take that approach. We like to file suit in a federal court. We like to take this to the district judge and have them decide whether or not you’re entitled the citizenship. Don’t listen to them, don’t just fold. If you’re case has merit, if a mistake has been made give us a call 314-961-8200 or shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss what to do if your case has been denied. Thanks.