Unreasonable Delay for Citizenship in Tuscaloosa
If you are a foreign national with lawful permanent residency in the U.S., you can apply for citizenship. Being a citizen has additional benefits you do not receive as a Green Card holder, such as the right to vote, run for office, and bring extended family and fiancés into the country.
Although Immigration and Citizenship Services (ICS) processing time is often slow, sometimes it becomes delayed to the point that it is unfair or violates the law. If you are experiencing an unreasonable delay for citizenship in Tuscaloosa, a legal advocate could help.
A diligent citizenship attorney could review your file and calculate how long ICS has delayed a decision on your application. If ICS failed to meet statutory deadlines, a professional could bring legal action forcing the agency to make a decision.
Common Reasons for Citizenship Application Delays
Like most government agencies, ICS has a heavy workload and limited staff. The agency must conduct labor-intensive investigations to confirm applicants’ statements and validate their documents. Delays are part of the process. However, applicants should receive an interview appointment within a year to fifteen months after filing their N-400 application.
An applicant can establish an online account that tracks the application. If there is no activity on it for several months, a Tuscaloosa attorney could contact the agency to inquire about its status. In many cases, the application was misplaced or misfiled, or a reviewer prioritized other cases. A call from a legal professional could result in attention to the application.
Many delays result from an individual failing to include necessary documentation or omitting a section of the application. When ICS must wait for an applicant to correct an error or provide missing documents, a person’s paperwork goes to the back of the line. Errors could add many months to processing time.
Forcing a Citizenship Decision Through Legal Action
Using the courts to force a government agency to act should always be a last resort. However, turning to the courts could be an effective strategy when ICS delays an application for citizenship without providing a reason.
A motion for mandamus asks a court to force a government agency to do its duty under the law. ICS must process applications within a reasonable timeframe. If a person experiences unexplained, unreasonable delays, they could ask the court to intervene.
In a mandamus action, the judge does not hear testimony or review evidence. They review an applicant’s ICS file to see if there is any reason for the delay. If they do not find evidence, they could order ICS to take specific action to move the application. For instance, a judge might order ICS to schedule a person’s interview within 30 days.
Post-Interview Application to the Court
When an applicant interviews with ICS, the agency has 120 days to notify an individual whether they will grant citizenship. If they do not decide within that timeframe, 8 U.S.C. §1447 allows an individual to request a hearing before a judge in a federal district court.
In many cases, requesting a judge to consider the matter will prod ICS to issue its decision, so the hearing will not happen. If the hearing takes place, the judge could grant an applicant citizenship or return the case to ICS with instructions to act promptly.
Contact an Attorney if You Experience an Unreasonable Delay for Citizenship in Tuscaloosa
If you have provided ICS with all the information they asked for and completed your application correctly, the agency must process your application with reasonable speed. If you are not seeing activity on your account and have not received any communication, reach out to a local legal representative. You do not have to tolerate an unreasonable delay for citizenship in Tuscaloosa.
A diligent attorney could contact the agency and find out why the application is moving slowly. If there is no legitimate excuse, they can bring the agency to court. Call today to discuss your citizenship application.