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Chapter 4 - Results of the Naturalization Examination

USCIS has 120 days from the date of the initial naturalization interview to issue a decision. If the decision is not issued within 120 days of the interview, an applicant may request judicial review of his or her application in district court. The officer must base his or her decision on the laws, regulations, precedent decisions, and governing policies.

The officer may:

  • Approve the application;

  • Continue the examination without making a decision (if more information is needed), if the applicant needs to be rescheduled, or for other relevant reasons; or

  • Deny the application.

The officer must provide the applicant with a notice of results at the end of the interview regardless of the outcome. The notice should address the outcome of the interview and the next steps involved for continued cases. [1] 

A. Approval of Naturalization Application

If an officer approves a naturalization application, the application goes through the appropriate internal procedures before the USCIS office schedules the applicant to appear at a ceremony for the administration of the Oath of Allegiance. [2] The internal procedures include a “re-verification” procedure where all approved applications are reviewed for quality. The officer who conducts the re-verification is not the same officer who conducts the interview. While the officer conducting the re-verification process does not adjudicate the application once again, the officer may raise any substantive eligibility issues.

USCIS does not schedule an applicant for the Oath of Allegiance in cases where USCIS receives or identifies potentially disqualifying information about the applicant after approval of his or her application. [3] If USCIS cannot resolve the disqualifying information and the adjudicating officer finds the applicant ineligible for naturalization, USCIS then issues a motion to reopen and re-adjudicates the naturalization application.

B. Continuation of Examination

1. Continuation to Request Evidence

An officer issues the applicant a written request for evidence if additional information is needed to make an accurate determination on the naturalization application. [4] In general, USCIS permits a period of 30 days for the applicant to respond to a request for evidence. [5] 

The request for evidence should include:

  • The specific documentation or information that the officer is requesting;

  • The ways in which the applicant may respond; and

  • The period of time that the applicant has to reply.

The applicant must respond to the request for evidence within the timeframe specified by the officer. If the applicant timely submits the evidence as requested, the officer makes a decision on the applicant’s eligibility. If the applicant fails to submit the evidence as requested, the officer may adjudicate the application based on the available evidence. [6] 

2. Scheduling Subsequent Re-examination

If an applicant fails any portion of the naturalization test, an officer must provide the applicant a second opportunity to pass the test within 60 to 90 days after the initial examination unless the applicant is statutorily ineligible for naturalization based on other grounds. [7] An officer should also schedule a re-examination in order to resolve any issues on eligibility.

The outcome of the re-examination determines whether the officer conducting the second interview continues, approves, or denies the naturalization application. [8] 

If the applicant fails to appear for the re-examination and USCIS does not receive a timely or reasonable request to reschedule, the officer should deny the application based on the applicant’s failure to meet the educational requirements for naturalization. The officer also should include any other areas of ineligibility within the denial notice.

C. Denial of Naturalization Application

If an officer denies a naturalization application based on ineligibility or lack of prosecution, the officer must issue the applicant and his or her attorney or representative a written denial notice no later than 120 days after the initial interview on the application. [9] The written denial notice should include:

  • A clear and concise statement of the facts in support of the decision;

  • Citation of the specific eligibility requirements the applicant failed to demonstrate; and

  • Information on how the applicant may request a hearing on the denial. [10] 

The table below provides certain general grounds for denial of the naturalization application. An officer should review the pertinent parts of this volume that correspond to each ground for denial and its related eligibility requirement for further guidance.

General Grounds for Denial of Naturalization Application (Form N-400)

Failure to establish…

Citation

Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence

Continuous Residence

Physical Presence

3 Months of Residence in State or Service District

Good Moral Character

Attachment and Favorable Disposition to the Good Order and Happiness of the United States

Understanding of English (Including Reading, Writing, and Speaking)

Knowledge of U.S. History and Government

Lack of Prosecution

D. Administrative Closure, Lack of Prosecution, Withdrawal, and Holding in Abeyance

1. Administrative Closure for Failing to Appear at Initial Interview

An applicant abandons his or her application if he or she fails to appear for his or her initial naturalization examination without good cause and without notifying USCIS of the reason for non-appearance within 30 days of the scheduled appointment. In the absence of timely notification by the applicant, an officer may administratively close the application without making a decision on the merits. [11] 

An applicant may request to reopen an administratively closed application without fee by submitting a written request to USCIS within one year from the date the application was closed. [12] The date of the applicant’s request to reopen an application becomes the date of filing the naturalization application for purposes of determining eligibility for naturalization. [13] 

If the applicant does not request reopening of an administratively closed application within one year from the date the application was closed, USCIS:

  • Considers the naturalization application abandoned; and 

  • Dismisses the application without further notice to the applicant. [14] 

2. Failing to Appear for Subsequent Re-examination or to Respond to Request for Evidence

If the applicant fails to appear at the subsequent re-examination or fails to respond to a Request for Evidence within 30 days, officer must adjudicate the application on the merits. [15] This includes cases where the applicant fails to appear at a re-examination or to provide evidence as requested.

An officer should consider any good cause exceptions provided by the applicant for failing to respond or appear for an examination in adjudicating a subsequent motion to reopen.

3. Withdrawal of Application

The applicant may request, in writing, to withdraw his or her application. The officer must inform the applicant that the withdrawal by the applicant constitutes a waiver of any future hearing on the application. If USCIS accepts the withdrawal, the applicant may submit another application without prejudice. USCIS does not send any further notice regarding the application.

If the District Director does not consent to the withdrawal, the officer makes a decision on the merits of the application. [16] 

4. Holding Application in Abeyance if Applicant is in Removal Proceedings

USCIS cannot adjudicate the naturalization application of an applicant who is in removal proceedings. [17] In general, USCIS holds the application in abeyance until the immigration judge has either issued a final order of removal or terminates the removal proceedings. Field offices should follow the advice of local USCIS counsel on how to proceed with such cases.

Footnotes


1. [^] The officer issues a Notice of Examination Results (Form N-652).

2. [^] See Part J, Oath of Allegiance [12 USCIS-PM J].

3. [^] See 8 CFR 335.5. See Chapter 5, Motion to Reopen [12 USCIS-PM B.5].

4. [^] The officer issues a request for evidence on Form N-14.

5. [^] See 8 CFR 335.7. The applicant has up to three more days after the 30-day period for responding to an RFE in cases where USCIS has mailed the request. See 8 CFR 103.8(b).

6. [^] See 8 CFR 335.7.

7. [^] See 8 CFR 312.5(a) and 8 CFR 335.3(b).

8. [^] See Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing [12 USCIS-PM E.2].

9. [^] See INA 335(d). See 8 CFR 336.1(a)

10. [^] See 8 CFR 336.1(b). See Chapter 6, USCIS Hearing and Judicial Review [12 USCIS-PM B.6].

11. [^] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(13)(ii)8 CFR 335.6(a), and 8 CFR 335.6(b). Generally, military applicants may file a motion to reopen at any time. See Part I, Military Members and their Families [12 USCIS-PM I]. 

12. [^] See 8 CFR 335.6(b). See Chapter 5, Motion to Reopen [12 USCIS-PM B.5].

13. [^] See 8 CFR 335.6(b).

14. [^] See 8 CFR 335.6(c)

15. [^] See INA 335(e). See 8 CFR 335.7.

16. [^] See INA 335(e). See 8 CFR 335.10.

17. [^] See INA 318. This does not apply in cases involving naturalizations based on military service under INA 329 where the applicant may not be required to be lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

Resources

Legal Authorities

INA 310, 8 CFR 310 - Naturalization authority

INA 312, 8 CFR 312 - Educational requirements for naturalization

INA 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

INA 318 - Prerequisite to naturalization, burden of proof

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 335, 8 CFR 335 - Investigation of applicants, examination of applications

INA 336, 8 CFR 336 - Hearings on denials of applications for naturalization

INA 337, 8 CFR 337 - Oath of renunciation and allegiance

Appendices

History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Appendix: History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Before October 29, 2019, USCIS considered children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees, who were stationed outside of the United States, to meet the requirement of “is residing in” the United States for the purpose of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.[1] This interpretation was consistent with the definition of “residence” for purposes of naturalization under INA 316.[2] Based on this treatment of U.S. government employees and their children in the context of naturalization under INA 316, USCIS determined that “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquisition of citizenship under INA 320 should likewise be interpreted to include children of U.S. military and government employees stationed outside of the United States who were residing with their parents.[3]

This interpretation, however, was inconsistent with other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including the definition of “residence” at INA 101(a)(33) and language in INA 322(a) and INA 322(d), which suggested that the citizenship of military children residing outside of the United States should be considered under that provision rather than under INA 320. Effective October 29, 2019, USCIS amended its policy guidance to address these concerns, and determined that children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees stationed outside of the United States would not be eligible for citizenship acquisition under INA 320.[4]

On March 26, 2020, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act was enacted,[5] amending INA 320, so that a child residing with his or her U.S. citizen parent, who is stationed outside of the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee, or is residing in marital union with a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States, acquires citizenship under INA 320 if all requirements of INA 320(c) and INA 320(a)(1)-(2) are met. In line with the statute, USCIS rescinds its previous guidance, clarifying that these children are eligible to acquire citizenship under INA 320 if all other requirements under INA 320 are met.

The amendment to INA 320 applies to children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.

Footnotes


1. [^] Even though the child of a member of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employee stationed outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship under INA 322 since he or she resides outside of the United States, USCIS interpreted the child to meet residency requirements under INA 320 as well, which formerly required the child to be residing in the United States with his or her parent to acquire citizenship.

2. [^] For example, U.S. government employees, including members of the U.S. armed forces, are eligible to apply for an exception to the continuous residence requirement for naturalization under INA 316 as long as their residency outside of the United States was on behalf of the U.S. government. See INA 316(b). See INA 316(a). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3].

3. [^] See Policy Manual Technical Update, Child Citizenship Act and Children of U.S. Government Employees Residing Abroad (July 20, 2015); and Acquisition of Citizenship by Children of U.S. Military and Government Employees Stationed Abroad under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), No. 103, issued May 6, 2004.

4. [^] See USCIS Policy Alert, Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship [PA-2019-05] (PDF, 308.45 KB). This Policy Alert has been superseded by Policy Manual updates to reflect changes made under Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF).

5. [^] See Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF) (March 26, 2020).

Updates

Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.

Read More