What to Consider Before Filing the N-336 Request for a Hearing on Your Naturalization Decision

The most important factor you will need to consider before requesting a hearing is the reason USCIS denied your application for naturalized U.S. citizenship.

If your N-400 Application for Naturalization is denied, you will receive a Notice of Denial that will state the factual and legal reasons for the decision. This notice will include a statement telling you that you have the right to accept the denial or to request a hearing before an Immigration Officer.

If you choose to request a hearing, you will have to file Form N-336 “Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” under Section 336 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.).

The hearing provides you an opportunity to have your application reviewed at an administrative level. If you believe that your application was denied for the wrong reasons, a hearing gives you the chance to prove this.

What to Consider Before Requesting a Hearing

The most important factor you will need to consider before requesting a hearing is the reason for denial of your application for naturalized U.S. citizenship. Form N-336 must be submitted with additional evidence and/or a legal brief that supports your position. You will want to feel confident that the officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was wrong and that you have the documentation to prove it.

Another factor to consider is the deadline for requesting a hearing. You must file Form N-336 within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Denial. Is that enough time to collect the evidence you need? You can request an extension to this deadline, but you must show good cause. Extensions are not granted often, so avoid relying on that option.

Another important consideration is seeking legal assistance. If you want to request a hearing, an attorney can be a valuable, if not critical, resource. An attorney will analyze the reasons for your denial and assess your chances of success. An attorney can also prepare a legal brief and aid you in securing the evidence needed to support your case, as well as accompany you to the hearing when it is scheduled.

Finally, consider the costs involved in requesting a hearing on your naturalization case. Most applicants will have to pay a filing fee with Form N-336. This fee is set at $700 (2019 figure). It is in addition to any attorney fees you may have to pay.

What Happens After Filing Form N-336

USCIS must schedule a hearing within 180 days of receiving a timely filed Form N-336. Your application will be assigned to a new officer--that is, one who did not examine your original application.

The officer will have the authority to review any part of the administrative record that was created as part of your initial examination, as well as request new evidence or testimony. After reviewing your case, the officer has discretion to conduct a full hearing as though a decision had never been made on the application (this type of hearing is referred to as de novo), or to utilize a less formal review procedure.

Another Option: Filing a New N-400 Application for Naturalization

If your N-400 Application for Naturalization is denied for reasons that do not make you inadmissible, you have the option to file a completely new application. Filing a new application will make more sense than requesting a hearing if your application was not wrongfully denied, or if the reason for the denial can be cured with time.

Instances where filing a new N-400 application may make the most sense include:

  • USCIS denied your application because you failed the literacy and/or civics knowledge test. If you were unable to pass this exam on your second try, you may not be ready for naturalization and could be better served by waiting to file a new application when you are.
  • USCIS denied your application because the officer found that you lacked good moral character due to a crime, incident, or behavior that occurred in the last five years. An applicant for naturalization must have been a person of good moral character for five years (or three years if applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen) prior to filing an N-400. If there is no legal basis to argue that the officer’s finding is incorrect, you can wait and refile when a full five years have passed from the incident/behavior in question.
  • USCIS denied your application because you did not meet the continuous residence requirement. If you do not qualify for an exception to this requirement, you can submit a new application four years and one day following the date you returned to the U.S. to resume residency (or two years and one day if you are applying as the spouse of a U.S. citizen).

If time is an issue, filing a new application may be quicker than waiting for a hearing to be scheduled. An attorney can assist you in determining what option makes the most sense for you.

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