Naturalization to U.S. Citizenship - N-400
Scott Mossman's naturalization practice focuses on representing applicants for citizenship who have a criminal record, such as an arrest or conviction for domestic violence, driving under the influence (DUI/DWI), petty theft/shoplifting, etc. He also represents applicants with other potential eligibility issues. Those include unpaid taxes, failure to register for the Selective Service, overdue child support payments, extended absences from the United States, and questions about whether the applicant should have received permanent resident status in the first place.
Scott represents naturalization applicants only if they live in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sonoma. These are the Bay Area counties served by the USCIS San Francisco Field Office and the USCIS San Jose Field Office.
Examples of Successful Applications
Scott Mossman has represented many naturalization applicants with challenging eligibility issues, including those listed below:
- A permanent resident with a previous denial of naturalization for a domestic violence conviction under California Penal Code section 243(e)(1) (domestic battery). We represented him on his second application for naturalization and got an approval.
- A professional convicted of auto theft after failing to return a rental car on time. The N-400 was swiftly approved.
- A woman from Sonoma County who had held permanent resident status for more than 30 years who had an old conviction for cultivating 4 marijuana plants that she had used to treat her arthritis. We obtained naturalization for her after defending her in removal proceedings and advising her criminal defense attorney on vacating and changing the conviction.
- A San Jose-area software engineer with an arrest for alleged domestic violence that resulted in a no-contest plea to California Penal Code section 415(1) (fighting in public). His N-400 was approved after brief questioning about the incident at his naturalization interview.
- An elderly woman who needed a waiver of the English and U.S. history and civics examinations for naturalization. Before Scott began representing her, USCIS had denied two N-648's filed on her behalf. Scott ensured that the neurologist who completed the third waiver application adequately explained the nexus (connection) between her condition and her inability to learn English or history and civics. The N-648 and N-400 were approved.
- An immigrant who had taken a trip outside of the U.S. of more than six months. Even though he had not traveled on a reentry permit, we established through his continuing ties to the United States that he did not abandon his permanent resident status or disrupt the continuity of his residence.
- A permanent resident applying for citizenship with several prior arrests and convictions, including a case for simple possession of a controlled substance that resulted in pre-plea diversion. We presented evidence the man had reformed and the USCIS San Francisco Field Office granted him citizenship.
- An immigrant on SSI disability who required a fee waiver for the N-400 and who had old convictions for two DUIs (Vehicle Code 23152) and for multiple instances of driving on a suspended license (VC 14601). USCIS approved both the fee waiver and N-400.
- A permanent resident applying for naturalization with a conviction for false imprisonment in a domestic violence case. The USCIS San Jose Field Office approved the N-400.
- An applicant who had a suspended 5 year prison sentence for aggravated assault from the 1980s, plus more recent arrests for DUI and domestic violence. USCIS agreed to approve the application after we petitioned the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Please note, however, that USCIS decides naturalization applications on their individual merits on a case-by-case basis. You should not consider Scott's successes in the above cases to be a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of success in your case. Schedule a consultation with Scott to discuss your eligibility and chances of success.
Request for a New Naturalization Hearing - N-336
Some of the successes described above came after the applicant initially applied for naturalization without an attorney, was denied, and then hired Scott to request a new hearing on the decision. If USCIS has denied your naturalization application, you should consult with an attorney immediately to determine whether it would be worthwhile to request a new hearing. The form used for that purpose is Form N-336. The new hearing will be by a different officer who is more experienced. You may also present additional evidence with the N-336. The best course, though, is to consult with a lawyer before filing the N-400 in the first place.
Petition for Hearing by U.S. District Court -
8 USC 1447(b)
Unfortunately, USCIS often delays on making a decision when a naturalization applicant has a criminal history. These cases may sit for years without an approval or denial. This is particularly frustrating where the arrests or convictions occurred well outside the 5 year good moral character period and the applicant is legally eligible to naturalize.
One option to get a decision in these cases is to file a petition with the U.S. District Court pursuant to Section 1447(b) of Title 8 of the United States Code. This option is available when 120 days or more have passed since the applicant's naturalization interview without an adjudication. Unlike a mandamus action, the judge who hears the petition has the authority to make his or her own decision on the application. The judge can approve or deny the naturalization application or send it back to USCIS with instructions.
An applicant who wants to petition for the court to decide his or her naturalization application should consult with an attorney. A petition usually is only a good idea if the applicant is eligible to naturalize. The applicant should also consider whether USCIS could initiate removal (deportation) proceedings. A court can decide a petition for a hearing on a naturalization application even if removal proceedings are pending, but the applicant needs to have funds to pursue the petition while also defending against removal.
Consult with Scott Mossman to determine the best option in your case.