Requesting a Hearing on a Naturalization Decision

If you feel you have been wrongly denied U.S. citizenship after submitting a Form N-400, filing an appeal is one options, while another is to simply reapply for naturalization.

By , J.D. · University of Washington School of Law

The Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Naturalization Decision, is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows applicants to appeal a negative decision from USCIS on an application for U.S. citizenship.

If you feel you have been wrongly denied citizenship after the process of submitting a Form N-400 and attending an interview at which you were tested on your knowledge of English as well as U.S. history and government, filing an appeal on Form N-336 is one of your options. Another option, however, is to simply reapply for naturalization. We'll discuss both possibilities here.

Note: If your case was denied because USCIS believed you weren't eligible for a green card in the first place (for example, due to having submitted false documents or otherwise committed fraud) or that you have become deportable (for example, due to a criminal conviction such as for an aggravated felony), see an attorney immediately. Your case is likely to be taken to immigration court, and the appeal process described in this article will not help you.

Naturalization Appeal Process Using Form N-336

Not everyone who has been denied U.S. citizenship has a legal basis upon which to file an appeal with USCIS. If, for example, you failed the civics exam (after the second try that is normally allowed to applicants), then denial of your case was appropriate, and you won't get anywhere with an appeal.

The idea of filing an appeal is to show USCIS that it made an actual mistake in your case—for example, that the officer failed to recognize that your documented physical disability should have exempted you from being tested on the civics material. By filing an appeal, you ask that a higher-level officer within the USCIS system review the case, based on the existing record and any additional written materials that you provide. An appeal does not involve you being personally re-interviewed.

If you wish to file an appeal, you will need to file Form N-336 within 30 days of the date that you were notified of the denial. There is a filing fee, though it may be waived in certain situations, including for low income. It is a good idea to submit additional materials to support your request, such as a written summary of where USCIS went wrong and how the laws concerning eligibility for U.S. citizenship should apply to the facts of your case. (An attorney can draft this for you.)

If your appeal is denied, you can request that the federal district court in your jurisdiction review your case.

Filing a New N-400 Application for Naturalization

In many situations, it's easier to simply reapply for U.S. citizenship than to go through the appeals process. True, you'll have to redo your photos and fingerprints. And the filing fees are nearly the same. But by filing anew, you get a fresh start, can correct any errors you made on the first application, and won't be in the position of convincing a government official that its agency made a mistake.

How long you will wait for a decision might not vary much either, depending on how backed up the appeals unit at your local USCIS office is.

Check your denial notice to see how soon you can reapply. Some applicants need to wait longer than others, depending on the reason for the denial.

Getting Legal Help With Your Naturalization Appeal

If you have been denied naturalized U.S. citizenship, and are thinking of filing an appeal, contact an experienced immigration attorney. The attorney can help you figure out the reason for the denial and develop a strategy for going forward. See our section on using an immigration lawyer for more information.