USCIS Delaying Your Case? Filing for U.S. Naturalization May Be the Answer
The processing times for adjudicating form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, has greatly increased within the past few months. Individuals are waiting longer than 12 months for their cases to be finalized and adjudicated and applicants are becoming impatient. USCIS has recently allowed I-751 applicants the opportunity to travel and work for an extended 18 months rather than 12 months following the expiration of their conditional residence.
Applicants will receive a receipt notice that will be kept as proof of continued status while their I-751 petition is pending. This receipt notice will allow applicants to avoid the trouble of obtaining an I-551 stamp. Applicants who have been waiting for over a year for their joint I-751 petition to be adjudicated, may want to explore the option of filing an N-400, Application for Naturalization.
A permanent residence spouse of a United States citizen waiting for their I-751 to become adjudicated can apply for naturalization if they have “resided continuously, after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence… for the last three years” and … “during the three years immediately preceding the date of filing his application has been living in marital union with the citizen spouse.” Individuals should check in with an attorney to ensure that they are eligible for naturalization under INA section 319(a) which gives the following requirements for naturalization:
• If they are the spouse of a United States citizen (A lawful permanent resident who previously obtained residency as a battered spouse of USC is also eligible);
• They have lived in the United States for at least three years continuously;
• Have been living in marital union with their U.S citizen spouse prior to the filing of their naturalization application;
• Have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the time;
• Have lived for at least three months in the state or the USCIS district that has jurisdiction of the applicants place of residence before filing their application.
An applicant must also have good moral character for at least three years and not be found of guilty of committing any crimes that will lead to removal proceedings. An applicant may wish to have their fingerprints done through the FBI during the initial filing of their I-751, giving them more assurance of success when applying for naturalization.
Applicants will want to seek legal help from an attorney when choosing to proceed with applying for naturalization. An attorney will file the application with USCIS along with a copy of the I-751 receipt notice and a cover letter with an explanation of the reasoning for seeking naturalization. Evidence that the permanent resident applicant and the U.S citizen spouse live together should also be produced in forms of rental agreements, mortgage documents, joint bills, bank statements or photos. All of these supporting documents should cover the time between the filing of the I-751 and the N-400.
The District Adjudications Officer will first adjudicate the I-751 application, and then adjudicate the N-400 application. After these are processed, the applicant and their U.S citizen spouse will be called in for an interview.
If you have any questions regarding the naturalization process while waiting for a pending I-751, please contact Attorney Nicholas J. Mireles at NicholasMireleslegal@gmail.com.