After going through the hard work of applying for proof of your U.S. citizenship, a rejection letter might be difficult to bear. Don’t give up! If your N-600 application is rejected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you still have options to challenge the decision. Let’s look at how you can challenge an N-600 denial.
In order to challenge an N-600 denial, the law says that you must exhaust all “administrative remedies” first. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, is an administrative body. As such, USCIS is required by the law to follow specific procedures that allow applicants seeking immigration benefits to challenge adverse decisions. In short, the law says that even if USCIS rejects your N-600 application, the agency is required to give you one more shot to change their mind.
That being said, you must follow the specific administrative procedures prescribed by the immigration law and regulations in order to have that chance. When USCIS issues N-600 rejections, they send the applicant a Denial Notice confirming the rejection of the application. This notice will include USCIS’s reasons for the denial. Importantly, this notice will also tell you how to appeal this decision and the absolute deadline by which you must file an appeal. Almost always, this deadline is 30 days from the date of the Denial Notice.
To file an appeal, you will need to complete Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. The form itself is not complicated: It asks for basic information to identify your case as well as the reasons why you believe your case should be reconsidered for approval. However, because your case was denied, your appeal will likely involve complex legal issues. We strongly recommend that you consult an immigration attorney if you wish to seek an appeal of your N-600 denial, as an attorney can help you identify the best arguments and evidence to support your appeal.
When you submit Form I-290B, you will want to attach a “brief,” a written summary of your legal argument that explains why your N-600 should be reconsidered for approval. You will also want to include any and all evidence that supports your argument and shows why you are eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship. An immigration attorney can offer invaluable help in assembling a brief and supporting evidence together. Regardless, your appeal should not be without these essential elements.
You will be filing your appeal with the Administrative Appeals Office, or “AAO” for short. The AAO is USCIS’s body that deals exclusively with appeals of USCIS denials. Your Denial Notice should indicate to which AAO location you will be sending your appeal packet.
Once you have sent your appeal, you will have to wait until the AAO issues a decision. Because the AAO is outside of USCIS’s normal operations, there are no standard “processing times” within which the AAO must make decisions. However, the AAO does publish average processing times and generally strives to process cases in under six months. You can contact the USCIS Customer Information Line at 800-375-5283 to request an update on your case, if your appeal goes beyond the average processing times listed by the AAO.
If you have filed an appeal with the AAO and it is denied, or if you unfortunately missed the appeals deadline, all is not lost. However, be aware that your chances for success are diminishing rapidly. We strongly suggest you contact a licensed immigration attorney at this stage.
You may ask the AAO to reconsider the denial, or to consider your case despite having missed an appeal deadline, by filing either a Motion to Reopen or a Motion to Reconsider the case. Either motion type is filed with Form I-290B, along with the current filing fee for N-600 applications minus any filing fee previously submitted.
For Motions to Reopen, you must also submit additional evidence that was not previously available for your original N-600 application or appeal, along with a brief or argument explaining why this new evidence changes your case.
For Motions to Reconsider, you must submit a brief or legal argument explaining why USCIS and the AAO made any incorrect conclusions on the law or the facts of the case. Your legal arguments and evidence at this stage must be well-founded. Speak with an immigration attorney for assistance.
If you have exhausted all of your appeals and motions with USCIS and the AAO, do not file a new N-600! Without having your Motion to Reopen or Reconsider approved, any new N-600 applications you file will be simply denied. You may also consider seeking judicial review of your case in Federal District Court if you have exhausted all appeals and motions. This is usually done through a lawsuit against USCIS. Such a move can be done only after you have exhausted any remedies through USCIS and the AAO. And, of course, it is extremely costly and time-intensive. Speak with an immigration attorney if you feel your only recourse is through a federal court.