This week, we received a practice advisory from the ACLU that includes tips for preparing citizenship applications. As you may know, USCIS has a practice of delaying applications for Muslim clients. Sometimes, an application is pending for a long time with no apparent reason.
In the current political climate, it is especially important to be extra careful when preparing N-400s for Muslim clients, and for clients from the targeted countries in the Executive Order.
In particular, pay close attention to Part 12 Question 9 of the N-400 citizenship application which asks about membership and associations. Ask the client if he or she belongs to a church or mosque or other religious group. Be sure to include all associations, even if they are loose or infrequent. Being extra careful with N-400s for these clients will prevent Muslim clients from having their applications delayed.
N-400 Practice Tips for Muslim Clients
*Consider whether the application is delayed by checking normal processing times. You can check if an application is out of normal processing times by calling USCIS Customer Service at 1 (800) 375-5283.
*Take care to make sure clients understand the questions on the N-400. Explain any vague terms or questions to the client. When necessary, attach an addendum to any application that explains the answers to the questions. Follow up with USCIS if a client remembers new information or he or she later realizes that he or she misunderstood or did not fully respond to a question on an application or during an interview.
*USCIS often relies on the vague N-400 application question (Part 12 Question 9) about memberships and associations to delay or deny an application for naturalization. For example, USCIS denied the N-400 application of a Jordanian and practicing Muslim, because he did not disclose his membership or association with a mosque he attended, the Muslim American Society, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Likewise, a client was denied because he did not disclose his association with the Islamic charity Benevolence International Foundation, even though the client had only made donations to the foundation. Be cautious when filling out Part 12 Question 9 of the N-400 and list ANY association or membership with an Islamic organization, whether a charity, organization or mosque.