This lawsuit, filed on behalf of U.S. citizenship applicants whose naturalization petitions have been pending, challenges U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) unreasonable delay in processing naturalization applications that were filed in 2020 and has prevented applicants from becoming U.S. citizens. 

The suit seeks to require the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and USCIS to prioritize the retrieval of immigration files, and USCIS to schedule naturalization interviews without further delay. Plaintiffs are U.S. lawful permanent residents waiting to become U.S. citizens and whose applications are delayed because their immigration files remain in storage. 

USCIS chose to place paper-based immigration files for which it is responsible at a Federal Records Center—operated by NARA—and then disclaimed responsibility when the COVID-19 pandemic restricted access to the Center. The agency has not prioritized retrieving these immigration records (known as “A-files”) and scheduling interviews for people who have pending naturalization applications. 

Naturalization applicants whose immigration files are stuck in a Federal Records Center, and remain inaccessible, are prejudiced by USCIS’ delay in a manner unlike any other applicants for immigration benefits. These applicants face a loss that other applicants for immigration benefits will not—the right to vote in the November 2022 elections. 

The lawsuit was filed in the federal district court for the District of Massachusetts by the American Immigration Council and the law firm Gibbs Houston Pauw.

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Posted in: Immigration