U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a revised version of Form N400, Application for Naturalization. The revised form is dated December 16, 2005 and the revised instructions are dated February 2, 2006. Prior versions of the form, dated October 26, 2005, and July 23, 2002, are still acceptable.
The changes to the form are primarily minor technical changes with the exception of question 16 on page 8 of the form where “USCIS or” has been deleted from the parenthetical “(including USCIS or former INS and military officers).”
The instructions are now seven pages in length to reflect statutory changes which make it easier for qualified military personnel to be naturalized by: (1) reducing the period of service required in the armed forces to obtain naturalization from three years to one year; and (2) eliminating the fee for applying for citizenship.
USCIS has also issued a revised version of Form N 648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. The new version is dated January 13, 2006, and contains only minor technical changes. The prior version of the form dated March 30, 2005, continues to be valid.
Why it is important to keep interviews with citizenship and immigration services
If an individual fails to appear for a scheduled interview, the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) adjudicator can either (i) reschedule the interview, (ii) deny the related application, or (ii) petition for abandonment.
The CIS adjudicator must verify whether the individual filed a timely request for a rescheduling of the interview. If a request was made to reschedule the interview and the request was submitted prior to the date and time of the interview, the adjudicator should evaluate the request and determine whether good cause existed for a rescheduling.
Except in naturalization cases, an application or petition is to be considered abandoned and the adjudicator must deny the petition or application accordingly if an individual failed to appear for a scheduled interview and CIS did not receive the individual’s request for rescheduling by the date of the interview, or USCIS did not find notification of a change of address.
A naturalization applicant may seek to reopen an administratively closed application by submitting a written request to USCIS within one year from the date the application was closed.
If the applicant does not request reopening of an administratively closed application within one year from the date the application was closed, the USCIS will consider that application abandoned and will dismiss the application.
Guinean Man Given Second Chance At Asylum Because Of Immigration Judge’s Errors.
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Chicago, Illinois , criticized an Immigration Judge for not spelling out why he thought asylum applicant Mamadou Diallo’s testimony lacked detail.
The case, Diallo v. Gonzales, involved Diallo, a native and citizen of Guinea, who was a member of Rally of the Guinean People (RPG), a political party that opposes the regime of Guinea’s current leader, President Lansana Conte. According to Diallo, he was arrested and imprisoned for sixteen months in December 1998 after attending a large rally protesting the arrest of Alpha Conde, RPG’s leader.
While he was in prison, he was pressured to sign a statement implicating Alpha Conde in illegal activities, and, when he refused, he was tied up by the wrists and beaten. Guards beat him almost every day with batons.
Diallo also alleged that there were fifteen people in his prison cell and that the cell was unsanitary, lacking a bathroom. According to him, during the first six months of his sixteen-month imprisonment, he was not allowed out of his cell except to go to court. Finally, he said that he was given food and water only once a day and that two of the people he was imprisoned with died.
On his release, Diallo was forced to sign a statement agreeing not to take part in any more political activities. He continued to participate in political activities after his release anyway, and in October 2001 he participated in a rally protesting a referendum that would allow President Lansana Conte to serve an unlimited number of terms.
Diallo claimed that the police wanted to arrest him for his participation in this rally, and so he was forced to flee the country.
At the Immigration hearing, the Immigration Judge (IJ) demanded Diallo’s medical records, proof of the large rally, affidavits from family members and proof that he was politically active.
The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said the IJ was wrong to expect evidence from RPG of Diallo’s political activities and imprisonment, or affidavits from his family members to “verify his claim” when Diallo testified that he had not been in contact with his family members since leaving Guinea in 2001.
The Court also thought it was wrong for the IJ to expect Diallo to corroborate the 2001 rally, since the opposition press might not be able to cover a rally organized by opposition political parties in a country where political opposition to the government is suppressed.
Finally, the Court was troubled that when Diallo did attempt to submit corroborating evidence in the form of a summons and arrest warrant, the IJ rejected this evidence because they contained French grammatical and spelling errors. The Court seriously questioned whether the IJ was “qualified to interpret French documents.”
The Court also signaled that Mr. Diallo could seek to recover the money he spent to bring the appeal from the Attorney General.
2005 Immigration Statistical Yearbook
On February 21, 2006, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) made available its Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Statistical Yearbook, summarizing the work of the EOIR for the past five years. Among some of the facts in the report:
· ranks 8th overall for the most number of asylum grants. is 9th, is 10th, is 13th, the is 22nd and is 23rd.
· Among immigration court case completions during FY 2003, , , , , and “represent the predominant nationalities.”
· In FY 2005, asylum filings at the immigration courts decreased by nearly 6,000 applications.
· The immigration court with the highest percentage of approved asylum cases was Tucson, Arizona , with an 85% grant rate.
· The immigration court with the lowest grant rate was Eloy, Arizona , where there were zero grants of asylum.
· The grant rate for asylum cases in Bloomington, Minnesota is 26%.
· Immigration courts in four cities–Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and San Francisco– received 53% of the asylum filings in FY 2005.
You can obtain the 2005 Yearbook from: www.usdoj.gov/eoir/statspub/fy05syb.pdf.
Please note that nothing on this page should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an attorney experienced in immigration law.
About Igbanugo Partners International Law Firm
Igbanugo Partners Int'l Law Firm is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It focuses on (1) U.S. immigration law and (2) international trade law in Sub-Saharan Africa.
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