If you filed an N-400 and had your interview, but your still don’t have a decision on your application, you’re probably getting nervous. Is there something wrong with your application? Are they ever going to make a decision? What if they deny the case? Will you have to go to immigration court?
I was interviewed and USCIS says my case is going through background checks. What does that mean?
USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) has to verify lots of background information about an N-400 applicant and conducts background checks on all applicants before it makes a decision on the application.
Background checks must be cleared before a person can be approved for naturalization and citizenship. Arbitrary things like whether you are male or female, where you are from, the countries in which you have lived, and what you do for a living all may increase the time it takes USCIS to complete your background check.
Besides checking your background for criminal charges or arrests, USCIS will also check your immigration history extensively. If the Immigration Service finds any issues in your case, they may spend more time looking into them. Some examples of issues in your immigration history include:
- Finding out that you did not disclose an arrest, criminal charge, or previous deportation order against you when you applied for your green card or other immigration benefit;
- If you got your greencard through marriage, finding evidence that you were not actually living with your spouse or other evidence that the marriage was for immigration purposes only, such as having a child outside your marriage;
- Finding that you did not fulfill some of the requirements to become a resident when you got your green card (for example, that you applied based on an offer of employment, but you never worked with the company who offered you employment)
- Determining that you failed to pay a filing fee that was required for your case
How and when can I find out if I have an issue in my Immigration History?
The best way to figure out if there are issues in your immigration history is to talk with a specialized immigration attorney about your history and have your attorney thoroughly review your case. If you don’t have records from before you got your green card, or you were previously in court or had issues with ICE or Customs and Border Protection, you can request these records and an attorney can review them for potential issues.
If I have an issue in my Immigration History, will my N-400 automatically be denied?
Not necessarily. An attorney can go over the possibilities for your case after reviewing it. Once an N-400 application is filed, if USCIS finds an issue with your case, it often arises during the naturalization interview. The interviewing officer may ask questions about it and may issue a Request for Evidence to obtain records from you at the end of the interview.
It’s also possible that an issue in your case is not brought up during your interview. This happens when the issue comes to light after your interview has concluded. If you have been interviewed, and your case is still pending at USCIS, this may be a simple delay in scheduling and inquiry on your case may help. However, it may also mean that USCIS may be reviewing your case to determine if you are actually eligible for naturalization.
I was interviewed, and my case is still pending. What do I do?
If you have been interviewed and your case is still pending, there are a few actions you can take:
- You can inquire about your case status with USCIS, either by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center or by attending an INFOPASS appointment at your local office.
- If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney can contact the local USCIS Office to follow up on your case
- By law, USCIS has 120 days after an interview is completed to make a decision in a naturalization application. If 120 days passed, you may file a lawsuit in federal court to force the USCIS to take action on your case.
I’m waiting on a decision in my N-400 application. What should I do now?
If you filed an N-400 application and have been interviewed, but you don’t have a decision on your case, you don’t have to continue waiting. Meet with an experienced immigration attorney to review your case and reach out to USCIS. If there are issues in your case, your attorney can help you figure out your options and prepare you for the possibilities.
If you need help with your N-400 application, contact Karam Immigration Law.