What Happens if Naturalization Is Denied?: Legal Steps and Options

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Facing naturalization denial can be daunting. Discover your rights and options with insights from The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A.

Dealing With a Naturalization Denial

Naturalization is the legal process through which a non-citizen acquires citizenship of a country after meeting certain legal requirements.  This important step is the dream of many immigrants in the U.S. since it would allow them to attain the highest immigration status possible. 

Now, imagine being on the brink of attaining U.S. citizenship, only to have your naturalization application denied. It’s a disheartening scenario no one wants to face, yet it happens more often than you might think. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stringent criteria for naturalization, and many applicants fall short, which could lead to a denial of the application. 

Naturalization denials can have significant consequences, including extra costs, delayed access to citizenship benefits, and, in some cases, the loss of permanent resident status and potential removal from the U.S. These outcomes highlight the importance of ensuring a strong application and seeking legal assistance before filing a naturalization application.

In the unfortunate event of a denial, legal assistance is equally vital to understanding the reasons behind the decision, strategizing effectively for future applications, and increasing your chances of success.

Our experienced immigration attorney at The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. understands the intricacies of the naturalization process and can help you navigate it if you’re just starting out or move forward if your application has been denied.

Please read on as we explore the potential consequences of a naturalization denial and some of the legal options available for people in such positions. 

Understanding the Naturalization Process

The path to U.S. citizenship (naturalization) involves a series of steps, each essential and requiring careful attention.

To begin, applicants must meet several criteria, including the following:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Be a Lawful Permanent Resident for a specific number of years, commonly five.
  • Demonstrate continuous residence (for at least five years) and physical presence (for at least 30 months in the U.S.
  • Have good moral character.
  • Pass the naturalization (English and civics) test.

Applicants must demonstrate that they meet these requirements when they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is crucial, and as the primary application document, it must be completed and filed appropriately without mistakes. 

Form N-400 must also be supported by certain documents. including: 

  • A copy of the applicant’s Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
  • Documentation of any crimes or offenses the applicant was involved in
  • Evidence of continuous residence and physical presence in the U. S.( This could include rent or mortgage statements, bank statements, or the applicant’s passport showing entry and exit date stamps. 

The specific documents and eligibility criteria often vary depending on how each applicant obtained their Green Card. It is important to understand your category’s unique eligibility and documentation requirements to ensure your application meets the required standards. 

Biometrics Appointment, Interview, and Testing

After submitting Form N-400,  applicants may be scheduled for a biometrics appointment, during which their fingerprints and photographs will be taken for updated background checks.

They will also need to attend the naturalization interview and take the naturalization test, comprised of English and civics components. This test is compulsory, subject to certain exceptions. However, anyone who fails the test will usually be given other opportunities to retake it. 

Decision

After the interview, applicants will receive a notice of decision within 120 days. If approved, the applicant will be scheduled for an Oath of Allegiance ceremony. This ceremony marks the official transition from Lawful Permanent Resident status to U.S. citizenship.

The naturalization application could also be denied or continued while waiting for further evidence.  However, regardless of the outcome, USCIS must provide applicants with a written notice detailing the reason for denial or the next steps for continued applications.

Reasons for Naturalization Denial

Common reasons for naturalization denial include a

  • Mistakes during the application process
  • Inaccuracies in the immigration forms
  • Incomplete documentation 
  • Failure to meet all the eligibility requirements.

Most of these issues can be avoided with proper guidance and understanding of immigration law. That’s one of the reasons why seeking legal representation and counsel early on is crucial. An immigration lawyer can help you spot and resolve issues with your application even before they occur, thereby increasing your chances of success. 

Can Naturalization Denial Impact Your Immigration Status?

Many people believe that a denied citizenship application is grounds for automatic removal from the United States. Fortunately, that’s not true (most of the time).

If you are denied naturalization, it simply means you do not yet qualify for elevation to citizenship status. So, you’ll remain in your current immigration status (Lawful Permanent Resident). With this status, you can continue to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely. All you need to do is renew your Green Card when it expires.

However, if the denial is based on findings of fraudulent activity (especially as it concerns obtaining the green card upon which the naturalization application is based), criminal behavior, or failure to meet residency requirements, it could lead to further investigation and placement in removal proceedings. 

In such cases, your ability to remain in the U.S. could be at risk. You might need to consult a citizenship lawyer who can help you understand your options and possible legal remedies that could help secure your stay.

Legal Options Following Naturalization Denial

You have several legal options to consider if your N-400 application is denied:

Request a Hearing

One of the primary options available is to file a Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings. This involves submitting Form N-336, which allows you to have your case reviewed by an immigration officer. The form must be filed within 30 days of receiving the denial notice (or 33 days if the notice was sent by mail).

Judicial Review

If the Form N-336 hearing does not result in a favorable decision, you can seek a judicial review. This means asking a federal district court to re-assess the decision in your case. Usually, this step is taken if you believe there was a legal error in the decision.

Reapply for Naturalization

You may choose to reapply for naturalization. Before doing so, it’s crucial to address why your initial application was denied. For example, if your application was denied due to failing the English or civics test, you should work on improving in these areas.

Considering the availability of multiple options, deciding which path to take after a denial could be difficult. Legal guidance is important to help you understand which option is best for you.

How The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. Can Help

At The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva P.A., we are deeply committed to helping clients navigate the complex and challenging immigration process. We recognize the profound impact immigration decisions can have on individuals and families, and we are dedicated to providing personalized and compassionate legal services to each client.

For those about to begin the naturalization process, we can help gather, organize, and prepare necessary application documents, ensuring they are complete and correctly filed to avoid delays or rejections.

If you’ve been denied naturalization, we can help you:

  • Comprehend your legal options so you can make informed decisions.
  • Help you navigate the legal process whether you wish to refile or challenge USCIS’s decision.
  • Fight for your right to remain in the U.S. if you’re placed in removal proceedings due to your naturalization denial.

As part of our commitment to our clients’ interests, we have created several helpful resources, including our guide explaining citizenship denial based on the good moral character requirement. You can trust us to provide you with tailored legal solutions that meet your unique needs and ensure your case receives the focused attention it deserves.

Contact Us Today

Denial of citizenship can be disappointing, to say the least.  However, understanding the reasons for the denial and exploring the available options can provide a clear path forward. 

Applicants can request a hearing to appeal the decision, where they can present new evidence or clarify existing information. In some cases, reapplying may be a viable option, especially if the issues that led to the denial can be rectified. 

In this difficult time, our experienced immigration attorney at The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. can offer practical guidance, ensure all legal avenues are explored, and help build a strong case for reconsideration.

You don’t have to deal with the aftermath of your naturalization denial alone. Contact us today for personalized legal assistance, and let us help clear the path to your U.S. citizenship.

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