Until recently, if an applicant’s naturalization petition was denied, he or she would be instructed to file the appeal with the USCIS office that made the Decision. Now, however, it appears that appeals of naturalization denials need to be filed with the USCIS lockbox in Phoenix, Arizona.
The USCIS denial letter should also contain an instruction as to where to file the appeal. All applicants only have thirty days to file the appeal, and so it becomes extremely important to file the appeal with the correct USCIS office in order to avoid missing the deadline.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has just issued a decision which allowed Jose Suarez’s U.S. citizenship to be revoked. Jose Suarez committed two controlled substance offenses just before he applied for citizenship. The former INS, now USCIS, did not find these offenses when he did his fingerprints because he had not yet been charged. His application for citizenship was approved and he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
A couple of months after he was sworn in, he was indicted for the offenses that had taken place before he applied for citizenship. After he served his sentence, his criminal offenses came to the attention of the immigration officials, and under 8 U.S.C. section 1451(a), the United States sought to take away his citizenship.
The U.S. brought charges to take away his citizenship about three years after he was released from jail. The complaint against Suarez alleged that he illegally procured his citizenship because he did not reveal these crimes at the time of his interview. It is important to note here that he was not formally indicted for these until after he was already sworn in! In other words, no criminal charges were pending against him at the time he applied for citizenship. The INS’ reasoning was that he committed the crime before naturalization, and he evaded criminal punishment for those criminal acts until he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals had similar reasoning and many additional arguments that they relied on to revoke his citizenship. The bottom line is that he committed the acts before he appeared at the interview with the INS, and therefore he should revealed this information and even if he did reveal this information, he would not have been found to be a person of good moral character.
Mr. Jose Suarez was found guilty of being part of a conspiracy to distribute almost 200 pounds of marijuana. Yes, crimes like these will keep you from becoming a U.S. Citizen, and might even get you removed (deported) from the U.S.
In 2011, April seems to have been the month for agencies offering services to people who want to file for naturalization. Both the Florida Coastal Immigrant Rights Clinic and American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offered a day in the month of April where free services were offered to immigrants wanting to file for naturalization.
In order to help, I joined Florida Coastal on April 16th, 2011 in assisting individuals to complete their Form N-400. I enjoyed helping a lovely Vietnamese couple to complete the wife’s naturalization application, as well as a Haitian applicant applying for naturalization. I look forward to participating next year as well.