November 28, 2023

Immigration Green Card

Immigration Is Good For You

Persistence pays off on green card delays

2 min read

Q. How can I get an update on my citizenship case? I have tried calling every day without being able to speak to someone at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. I filed my naturalization application Oct. 11, 2021. A USCIS officer interviewed me April 21, 2022. The officer requested additional documentation, which I sent April 23. I have proof that USCIS received my submission on April 25.

Elizabeth, Naranja, Fla.

A. You can keep trying to get through to a USCIS agent at (800) 375-5283, but it is unlikely you will get any useful information. Typically the answer to inquiries about delayed decisions is “your application is pending,” but you know that. You may have better luck asking for help from your U.S. representative or senator. They can contact USCIS asking for the status of your case.

All federal legislative offices have staff designated to help constituents with immigration matters. Be persistent. Often the Congress member will get the same answer you got from USCIS: the case is pending. Still, at least you will be educating your representative about USCIS processing delays for immigrants. After all, once you naturalize you can vote — something your representatives surely understand.

The only sure way to get USCIS to do its job is to sue the agency in federal court. A federal statute allows for federal court review in cases pending 120 days from the interview date. Sometimes just the filing of a federal court action gets USCIS to act.

Sometimes just the filing of a federal court action gets USCIS to act.

Q. Can people who are not U.S. citizens serve in the military?

Tony, N.Y.

A. Permanent residents are the only non-U.S. citizens who can serve in the U.S. military. Under President Barack Obama, certain nonimmigrants and others could join the Army under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. President Donald Trump ended the program and President Biden has yet to reinstate it.

MAVNI was designed to meet a pressing military need for medical professionals and immigrants with needed language skills. MAVNI offered enlistment to asylees, refugees, individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and nonimmigrants such as international students and temporary workers. The more than 10,000 MAVNI recruits have served our country well.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and senior legal adviser to City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Email questions and comments to Follow him on Twitter @awernick.


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