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USICS Denied My Citizenship Application! Now What?

Updated: Sep 4, 2023



You waited the requisite time to become a U.S. Citizen, filed the N400, paid the filing fee, gone through biometrics, gone through your interview, and now you get a denial. What are your options?


First, don't panic. The denial is not the end of the road. But you do need to act quickly.


Administrative Appeal


Next, if you don't already have an attorney, you should retain one quickly, if possible. While the Naturalization application (N400) is a relatively simple form, you need to figure out what went wrong and be able address it. In addition, appeals will cost additional money. You need to determine whether an appeal is worth the time and money. A lawyer can help with that.


If you and your attorney decide to appeal, you have to file Form N336 and pay the filing fee. Here is a link to the the N336 and other information about filing it, including the current filing fee. Currently, the fee is $700.00. However, check the USCIS website to get the current rate.


You must file the N336 within 30 days of the date of the denial or 33 days of the date of mailing if USCIS mails it. You can file it online or mail it. Again, Instructions on how to do this and where to mail it are located here. You can find additional information at this link.


Once your application is received, USCIS will schedule a hearing within 180 days. This hearing will be with another USCIS officer who is of equal or higher rank than the officer who denied your application. You can have an attorney with you during the hearing. This officer can utilize de novo review (which means that the hearing officer can look at your case as though no decision was made) or the officer may use a more informal process. This will all depend on the complexity of your case. For more information, please see this link to the USCIS policy manual.


Appeal to Federal Court


If USCIS denies your application again, you can then appeal that decision to the United States District Court that has jurisdiction over your residence. 8 CFR 336.9(b). You must go through the administrative appeal before you can appeal to federal court. 8 CFR 336.9(d).


If you appeal to federal court, you need to file the appeal and pay the filing fee (currently $402.00) within 120 days of the denial of your USCIS appeal. Your application will be reviewed by a U.S. District Judge. The judge will review it de novo. This means that the judge will look at it as though it was the first time. 8 CFR 336.9(c). The judge is not bound by any decision made by USCIS.


If you decide to appeal to federal court, you should consult a lawyer who understands immigration law and federal court practice. Appealing to federal court commences federal litigation and practicing in federal court is very different than practicing before an administrative agency like USCIS. If you have questions about appealing a denial of your citizenship application to federal court, please give me call today for a free initial consultation.

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