U.S. Government Sued Over Citizenship Application Delays

Thirteen permanent residents have sued 2 government agencies for delaying their citizenship applications. They all applied for citizenship in 2020 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and are all still waiting for an interview.

People who applied after them are already citizens.

The delay is because their immigration files (called A-files) have not been retrieved. A-files are paper documents and the USCIS won’t schedule citizenship interviews without them. Also, a USCIS officer must review the A-file before approving somebody for citizenship and scheduling an oath ceremony.

The A-files of the 13 permanent residents are being kept in Federal Records Centers, which are underground man-made caves. They are run by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and used for storage.

The caves were closed in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They returned to a full workforce 2 years later. But when NARA started collecting the paper files again, they didn’t make them a priority. In May 2022, the USCIS was still telling people there was a delay in citizenship applications.

The 13 permanent residents were given no timeline on when they will get their A-files or schedule interviews. If they win the lawsuit, USCIS and NARA will have to get their A-files and schedule naturalization interviews without delay.

The lawsuit argues they have more to lose than people using other immigration services because they might not be able to vote in the 2022 mid-term elections. They are being denied participation in the democratic process.

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