The ‘A-file’ of the applicant should be reviewed by the USCIS officer who is designated to conduct the naturalization interview. The US citizenship application should also be reviewed. The records of the interaction the applicant had with the USCIS, legacy INS, and also other organizations under the US government with which the applicant must have had dealings significant to his or her immigration record are included in the A-file. During the naturalization interview the officer deals with all relevant issues. After filing there is also option to check citizenship status online.
What A-file contains?
Along with the applicant’s US citizenship application the applicant’s A-file may include the following information:
- As proof documents which illustrate how the applicant became permanent resident;
- Applicant submitted other applications or forms for immigration benefits;
- Between USCIS and the applicant whatever communication posts or mails;
- Important communication letters and forms from officers important to the applicant’s eligibility;
- From DHS or any other agencies resources such as any criminal records, and investigative reports and enforcement actions and correspondence from other agencies.
Authority on Application
At the time of US citizenship application filing the USCIS office having jurisdiction over the applicant’s residence has the responsibility for its processing and also to deliver judgment in most cases. In case after filing the naturalization application the applicant moves to a different location an officer should review whether the jurisdiction of a case has changed. Whenever appropriate the USCIS office must transfer the application to the appropriate office with jurisdiction. As a battered spouse of a U.S. citizen or as a child an applicant for naturalization for safety purposes may use a different address which does not affect the jurisdiction requirements.
The officer may complete the interview and then forward the applicant’s A-file with the pending application to the office having jurisdiction in cases where an officer gets to know of a change in jurisdiction only during the naturalization interview. Also the applicant should be informed that the application’s jurisdiction has changed by the officer. From the current office with jurisdiction the applicant will receive a new appointment notice.
Background and Security Checks results
On the applicant who has filed the US citizenship application an officer should ensure that all of the appropriate background and security checks has been conducted. As part of the record the results of the background and security checks should be included.
Other record documents
- To accommodate applicant with disability based exceptions the examination process of naturalization is modified by USCIS. The application is reviewed by the officer for any accommodation request or any oath waiver request or for a exception based on a medical disability from the instructive requirements for naturalization.
- Also check is made to see if an order to show cause, order to remove or any previous notice to appear exists for an applicant by the officer. For this the applicant’s record and databases related to find out if any removal proceeding currently or previously exists and if any decision to remove applicant from US is present. The applicant’s record would have information if he/she is in removal proceedings, has a Notice to Appear or has been previously issued “Order to Show Cause”. For an applicant who is in between a removal proceeding USCIS will not be able to make a decision on his/her naturalization application.
From a immigration judge if the applicant has already received a final order of removal the officer should deny the naturalization application, but:
- With proper documentation and approval is the applicant has reentered US though was removed from the United States earlier.
- Under the special military provisions for naturalization the applicant is filing US citizenship application.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 30, 2013
Before a USCIS officer all applicants should appear for an in-person interview after the US citizenship application, Form N‑400 is filed. The interview followed by English and civics tests both constitutes the examination of applicant. The central part of the naturalization examination is the applicant’s interview. To review and verify all the factors pertaining to the US citizenship applicant’s eligibility with the applicant the officer conducts the interview. After that the applicant would know time of how long to become citizen approximately.
Applicant is placed under oath and then officer conducts the interview based on questions and data filled in by applicant on US citizenship application. Following checks are done during initial naturalization examination:
- information provided on the naturalization application by applicant is reviewed by the officer,
- For naturalization the tests are conducted to verify educational eligibility criteria and
- About the other eligibility requirements like physical residence an officer’s questions the applicant.
During the interview the testimony provided by the applicant could be recorded by a mechanical, electronic, or videotaped device, a transcript could be made or an affidavit could be prepared according to solely the officer’s choice. Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) representative, attorney or the applicant may request a copy of the record of proceedings. Invariably a notice of results is provided by the officer at the end of the examination to the applicant. Along with the outcome of examination the notice provides explanation about what steps are next in cases that are to be continued.
Re-examination if required
In order to determine the applicant’s eligibility USCIS may schedule for a subsequent examination, re-examination of the applicant. The re-examination will include:
- Verification of the evidences which are provided by applicant after request for evidence during or after the interview initially done by the officer.
- Whether the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements for naturalization is determined by the officer after taking into consideration new oral and written testimony provided by applicant including, if required, the retest to check educational requirements.
In order to overcome deficit in the naturalization application as another opportunity generally a re-examination is done. Reexamination is scheduled between 60 – 90 days after the initial exam if applicants fails the English or/and civics tests.
The naturalization application is denied by the officer if the applicant is unable to overcome the deficiencies in his or her naturalization application. USCIS hearing before an officer may be requested by an applicant or his/her representative if applicant’s naturalization application is denied.
When are application processing expedited?
For the following applicants USCIS will expedite naturalization applications filed:
- By the Social Security Administration (SSA) those who are having their Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits terminated within one year or less and
- From the date of receipt by USCIS whose naturalization application has been pending for four months or more.
At the time of filing every applicant must meet all requirements to be eligible for naturalization though USCIS will prioritize processing of these applications. Using an infopass appointment or by US postal mail/courier service such applicants who have pending naturalization applications must inform USCIS of the approaching termination of benefits. Following documents are required:
- Explaining that their SSI benefits would be terminated within a year or less and that their naturalization application, since date of filing with USCIS, has been pending for more than four months a cover letter or cover sheet and
- Recent SSA letter photocopy which the applicant’s has received stating the termination of their SSI benefits. At the top of the copy of SSA letter the USCIS alien number must be written.
Just “SSI” must be written at the top page one of the application if applicants have not filed for naturalization. Cover letter or sheet explaining the termination of SSI benefits within a year or less should also be included along with their application.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 30, 2013
To conduct examination the USCIS officers have authority including conduction of the interview for naturalization and also to investigate. The interview takes place after the applicant files US citizenship applicationand after biometrics is done. At the start of the interview for US citizenship the officer should introduce him or herself. Then explanation for purpose of the naturalization examination is given and the before starting interview the applicant much be placed under oath.
For officers following legal rights are included in USCIS’s authority:
- Applicant must be placed under oath;
- In course of an in person interview they should obtain oral and written testimony;
- If required call witnesses to court;
- Additional evidences can be requested
- According to Field office director’s delegation the Oath of Allegiance should be administered.
During applicant’s interview an officer should make sure that while questioning all requirements for naturalization are covered. Information provided in the naturalization application is generally what the officer’s questions are focused on. Any questions that are relevant to the determination of eligibility may be asked by the officer. On all occasions suitable chances should be given to the applicant in order to respond by the officer.
The following questions are some that are generally asked by the officer:
- Marriage history and about service in the military as part of biographical information
- Time period information and admission as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)
- After obtaining permanent residency details about absence from the United States
- History about employment and also the places of residence
- US history and government (civics) and English knowledge
- Criminal background if any and moral character related information
- About regards to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
- With certain organization about association or membership information
- Enthusiasm to take an Oath of Allegiance to US
- Other eligibility determination related topic
Tests related to the ability of applicant to read and write English and also test about US history and government civics, in most cases unless the applicant is exempted, would be administered by the same officer who conducts the naturalization interview. The naturalization interview and the ability of applicant to speak and understand English might be conducted by one officer and the English reading and writing and civics test might be administered by another officer.
Applicable Law based decisions
On the US citizenship application for each case a legally acceptable decision must be made after analyzing facts by an officer. Based on the regulations, appropriate laws, standard decisions and organization guidance his or her decision to either approve or deny should be taken by the officer and:
- Relevant legal law is based on The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as the primary source.
- The subsequent regulations explain the laws further and provide guidance on how the law is applied.
- Within the jurisdiction of the court or legal body making the decision standard decisions have the force of law and are binding on cases.
- The agency’s policies and procedures supporting the laws and regulations are given or under the USCIS guidance. The primary source for agency guidance is the USCIS Policy Manual.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 30, 2013
For naturalization applicants need to undergo background checks and as part of the process USCIS must collect fingerprint records. Generally fingerprints need not be submitted by applicants of US citizenship who are 75 years of age and older. Once the applicant submits the US citizenship application USCIS notifies them in writing to appear for fingerprinting. From the date of processing by the FBI fingerprints are valid for 15 months. If the applicant does not appear for the fingerprinting appointment without a valid reason and also without prior information to USCIS it’s considered that an applicant abandons his or her naturalization application.
The applicant’s biometrics once collected by an Application Support Center (ASC) for a full criminal background check USCIS submits the records to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Following confirmations are included in the response from the FBI that a full criminal background check has been completed:
- No administrative or a criminal records the applicant has
- Yes administrative or a criminal record(s) the applicant has; or
- Fingerprint records have been determined “unclassifiable” for the purpose of conducting a criminal background check of the applicant’s report submitted and the records have been rejected.
Who can get fingerprint waivers?
Aged applicants: At the time of filing his or her naturalization application applicants who are 75 years and above are not required to provide fingerprints.
With Certain Medical Conditions: If the applicant is unable to provide fingerprints because of a medical condition an applicant may qualify for a waiver of the fingerprint requirement. Birth defects, physical deformities, skin conditions, and psychiatric conditions are such conditions. Authorization to grant a fingerprint waiver is with only certain USCIS officers.
Only for the following conditions an officer responsible for overseeing applicant fingerprinting may grant the waiver:
- the applicant was met by the officer in person;
- attempt to fingerprint the applicant has been made by the officer or authorized technician and
- applicant is determined to be unable to be fingerprinted at all or is unable to provide a single legible fingerprint by the officer
Clearance letters covering the relevant period of good moral character from local police must be brought to his or her naturalization interview by an applicant who is granted a fingerprint waiver. As part of the record all clearance letters are included. The officer must take a under oath statement from the applicant covering the period of good moral character in cases where the applicant is granted a fingerprint waiver or has two unclassifiable fingerprint results.
If the waiver is solely based on the following an officer should not grant a waiver:
- fewer than 10 fingers are there for the applicant;
- the applicant’s fingerprints are found to be unclassifiable by the officer ; or
- Temporarily the applicant’s condition is preventing the fingerprint capturing.
Decision to deny a fingerprint waiver by a officer is final and may not be appealed.
Name checks by FBI
In response to the name check requests the FBI conducts “name checks” on all naturalization applicants and publicizes the information contained in the FBI’s files to USCIS. A search against the FBI’s Universal Index (UNI) is included in the FBI’s National Name Check Program (NNCP). UNI contains personnel, administrative, applicant, and criminal files compiled for law enforcement purposes. In response to the name check requests the FBI publishes the information contained in the FBI’s files to USCIS.
Before an applicant for naturalization is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview the FBI name check must be completed and cleared. For the duration of the application for which they were conducted a definitive FBI name check response of “NR” (No Record) or “PR” (Positive Response) is valid. From the FBI process date authoritative responses used to support other applications are valid for 15 months. In cases where the final settlement and naturalization have not occurred within that time frame or if the name check was processed incorrectly a new name check is required.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 23, 2013
To determine whether an applicant meets all applicable eligibility requirements to become a U.S. citizen USCIS conducts an investigation and examination of all naturalization applicants who file US citizenship application. After filing the option to check citizenship status online is available.
All factors relating to the applicant’s eligibility are covered by the investigation and examination process and include the following:
- Security and criminal background check completion
- Applicant’s complete immigration record is reviewed
- With oral and written testimony in-person interviews
- English and civics requirements are tested
- Disability exception qualification
To conduct the investigation and examination the USCIS officers have full authority. The legal authority for certain officers to administer the Oath of Allegiance and to obtain oral and written testimony during an in-person interview also included under their authority. They also have authority to ask a person to appear in court to give evidence as witness and also request evidence for details about say physical presence in US.
By a predominance of the evidence the applicant has the burden of establishing eligibility throughout the examination. To make a decision on the application the officer must decide any pending issues and obtain all of the necessary information and evidence. For the integrity of the naturalization process uniformity in decision-making and application processing is vital. USCIS’s goal to ensure that the relevant laws and regulations are applied accurately to each case is enhanced with consistency in the decision-making process.
More on background and eligibility checks
The petitioner, now applicant, for naturalization required a complete examination and questioning under oath beginning in 1906. And also his or her witnesses at the final hearing for naturalization in court. In 1940 congress amended the law to include English language requirements and get check their understanding of the principles of the Constitution a provision for questioning applicants.
To determine their eligibility for naturalization today USCIS conducts an investigation and examination of all applicants for naturalization. The eligibility criteria includes lawful admission of the applicant for permanent residence, ability to ascertain good moral character, understanding and attachment to the Constitution, residence and physical presence in the United States, and the English and civics requirements for naturalization through two tests.
After he or she completed filing for naturalization USCIS conducts an investigation of the applicant. Certain criminal background and security checks are also part of the investigation carried out. Collecting fingerprints of applicants and requesting a “name check” from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) are part of the background and security checks. On all applicants for naturalization, in addition, USCIS also conducts other inter-agency criminal background and security checks. In order to double check details and ensure the data in the application is true the background and security checks are a must do to most applicants. Before the applicant is scheduled for his or her naturalization interview it’s very important that it must be conducted and completed to fully ascertain the details in order to ensure that the right person is chosen to be the US citizen.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 23, 2013
US citizenship could be derived or acquired by a person at birth. By being born in the US and areas subject to US jurisdiction a person becomes a US citizen at birth. Born in certain territories or faraway possessions of the United States persons are also eligible for citizenship at birth. For process of becoming a citizen at birth following persons are also included:
- Persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899
- on or after February 26, 1904 persons born in Canal Zone or Republic of Panama
- on or after January 17, 1917 persons born in Virgin Islands
- on August 1, 1950 if residing in Guam or territory and born after April 11, 1899
Persons are considered nationals but not citizens of the United States if they are generally born in American Samoa and Swain Island. If one or both parents were U.S. citizens at their time of birth, in addition, persons who are born outside of the United States may be U.S. citizens at birth. Through naturalization persons who are not U.S. citizens at birth may become U.S. citizens and time period on how long to become citizen depends. By any means whatsoever confer of U.S. citizenship after birth is Naturalization.
Generally after judging the naturalization application which the applicant files, USCIS issues citizenship to that applicant. By operation of law also a person becomes a US citizen in some cases and it is called deriving citizenship. All requirements that are established by Congress, for either of the instances, the foreign national or citizen should fulfill. A person in most cases unless and until he/she is admitted to the United States for permanent residence lawfully is not naturalized.
One of the most important decisions an immigrant can make is the decision to become a US citizen. Equal rights and privileges of a US citizen is shared by the naturalized US citizen.
The following are the abilities the US citizenship provided to immigrants:
- Voting in the Federal elections
- U.S. Passport with which you can travel
- Only with citizenship you can run for elective office
- Participate on a jury
- for federal and certain law enforcement jobs you become eligible
- certain State and Federal benefits not available to non-citizens can be obtained
- for minor children born abroad citizenship can be obtained
- to the United States with their increased and accelerated ability family members could be brought in
Congress has the exclusive authority, as it has long been established, and power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under its constitution. And also to enact legislation through which upon people US citizenship may be conferred.
By various courts designated in rulings enacted by Congress since 1790 and before 1991 naturalization within the US was a judicial function exercised to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under its constitutional power.
To the Attorney General, who now is the Secretary of DHS, Congress transferred the naturalization authority as of October 1, 1991. As are necessary to properly implement the Secretary’s authority USCIS is authorized to perform such acts. An applicant for naturalization in certain cases may choose to have the Oath of Allegiance administered by USCIS or by an eligible court with jurisdiction. To administer the Oath of Allegiance eligible courts may choose to have exclusive authority.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 23, 2013
Eligibility for naturalization with reduces continuous residence and physical presence periods are applicable only for certain classes of applicants in US. In the United States for naturalization purposes the time period spent abroad will be counted as time resided and physical presence in US for such applicants may also be eligible to count time residing abroad as residence and physical presence. Exemption from the residence or physical presence criteria or both could be given to some applicants of US citizenship.
After becoming a lawful permanent resident and before filing US citizenship application for naturalization
, for a period of one year most of the applicants are supposed to have been physically present and resided in US without a break and interruption.
Certain US Government or Specified Entities employees
For employment by or on contact basis with US government those lawful permanent residents who have physically been present in US continuously for minimum one year can file Form N-470 to preserve residence and will not break their continuous residence requirement while working aboard. The physical presence requirement need not be met by such persons. For the required minimum one year period of continuous physical presence as a regular or on contract basis employee working for Central Intelligence Agency can accumulate it anytime prior to filing for naturalization then doing so before filing Form N-470.
As a employee abroad of an American institution of research recognized as such by DHS Secretary green card holders who have filed an application to preserve residence and got USCIS approval for the same after being continuously physically present in the United States for at least one year before get exception from the continuous residence requirement though should meet the physical presence criteria. Exemption from the physical presence requirements is given to those applicants who are employed by or under contract with the U.S. Government.
Certain Media Organizations employees abroad
As employee of a US incorporated nonprofit communications media organization, recognized by the Secretary of Homeland Security, that broadcast information significantly promoting United States interests abroad the naturalization applicant gets exemption from the continuous residence and physical presence requirements if:
- Still employed or within six months of termination of employment the applicant files the application for naturalization.
- For at least five years after becoming an LPR the applicant has been continuously employed with the organization.
- At the time of naturalization the applicant is within the United States
- Upon termination of employment the applicant says publicly a good faith intention to take up residence within the United States immediately.
Interpreter or Translator employed in Iraq or Afghanistan
Under the control of Department of State an employee only of or on contract basis with the U.S. Chief of Mission an applicant employed abroad does not break continuous residency during period stayed outside US. This applies to employee of or on contract basis with the U.S. Armed Forces as an interpreter or translator in Iraq or Afghanistan too. For the entire period of absence from the United States this benefit is available but only applies to the continuous residence requirement. The physical presence requirement must be met.
Employed Abroad in Religious occupation
Time spent abroad is treated as continuous residence and physical presence in the United States for naturalization purposes for a religious value organized in the United States if lawful permanent residents go abroad temporarily for the purpose of performing the ministerial or priestly functions of such religious denomination, or of serving as a missionary, brother, nun, or sister. To qualify for an uninterrupted period of at least one year LPRs must have been physically present and residing within the United States.
Posted by immigratingtousa on January 16, 2013