In an email to stakeholders, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") recently announced updates to filing procedures for the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Per the stakeholder email and the updated version of the N-400 form instructions, applicants in the U.S. no longer need to submit two passport-style photos when filing, as their photos will be taken at their biometrics appointment. Also, regardless of age, all applicants, with the exception of those residing overseas, will be scheduled for biometrics to have their fingerprints, photos, and signature taken. Previously, applicants aged 75 years or older were exempt from the fingerprint requirement but since USCIS is now processing these forms electronically, senior citizens are now also required to appear at an Application Support Center for biometrics. Applicants exempt from the biometric services fee continue to be exempt from the fee until further notice, but they will be requested to appear for biometrics appointments regardless of age. Applicants should always check the latest form instructions for changes to these procedures.
In a recent decision, the U.S. Circuit Court for the 8th Circuit denied an application for U.S. citizenship after determining the applicant had engaged in unauthorized employment while in the U.S. pursuant to a non-immigrant, R-1 visa. The applicant in this case began working for an employer more than six months prior to the date that he was authorized by USCIS to do so, making him ineligible to apply for adjustment of status. This period of unauthorized employment was not known to USCIS at the time the agency approved his green card, but came to light when he listed his employers and dates of employment on his application for U.S. citizenship. As this unauthorized employment would have caused the applicant's green card application to be denied, the USCIS adjudicator conducting the naturalization interview determined that the legal permanent resident status should never have been granted in the first place and therefore denied the naturalization application. Both a U.S. District Court and the U.S. Circuit Court for the 8th Circuit upheld USCIS's denial.
This outcome is a warning to any foreign nationals who believe receiving a green card ends any possibility of further scrutiny into their employment and immigration history. This case also highlights the importance of applicants ensuring any and all work undertaken in the U.S. prior to receiving a green card is specifically authorized. If you have questions regarding employment authorization or whether it could impact a green card or naturalization application, you should contact one of our immigration attorneys at email@example.com or by calling us at 617-482-1010 before applying.