PLEASE NOTE THAT CASE RESULTS DEPEND UPON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE. CASE RESULTS DESCRIBED BELOW DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE UNDERTAKEN BY I.S. LAW FIRM, PLLC (LAW OFFICES OF ISMAIL T. SHAHTAKHTINSKI, ESQ.)
I.S. Law Firm secured approval of a previously denied application for naturalization (Form N-400) for our client through an N-336 hearing on a decision in naturalization proceedings (under Section 336 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Our client’s application for naturalization was previously denied as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) argued that our client had failed to establish “good moral character” during the five-year period preceding the filing of his naturalization application. “Good moral character” is a requirement for all naturalization applicants. Generally, good moral character requirement is satisfied by absence of criminal record. Certain types of criminal conduct automatically preclude applicants from establishing good moral character and may make the applicant subject to removal proceedings and deportation. An applicant may also be found to lack good moral character for illegal voting, wrongfully claiming to be a United States Citizen, and other unlawful acts. USCIS determines whether an applicant has met the good moral character requirement on a case-by-case basis.
In this case, our client was arrested twice for minor offenses within the five-year period preceding the filing of his naturalization application. In the first incident, charges were dismissed. In the second incident, our client was found guilty and paid a fine. Since our client was only convicted once, and the offense was a minor one, attorneys at I.S. Law Firm argued that our client was eligible for the so called “petty offense exception”. A petty offense is a crime for which the maximum penalty possible for the crime does not exceed imprisonment for one year and, if there is a conviction, the term of imprisonment does not exceed six months, regardless of suspension. Petty offense exception allows applicants who only had single minor criminal convictions to show good moral character and naturalize.
However, USCIS denied our client’s naturalization application in 2013. In response, lawyers at I.S. Law Firm filed Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA) within a specified deadline.
Under INA Section 336, an applicant or his or her authorized representative may request a USCIS hearing before an officer on the denial of the applicant’s naturalization application. An N-336 hearing is very similar to a regular naturalization hearing. The Applicant or his or her attorney is allowed to make their case in regards to the issues that had led to the initial denial of form N-400. The USCIS officer at N-336 hearing reviews the N-400 application anew and can:
- Affirm the findings in the denial and sustain the original decision to deny;
- Re-determine the original decision but deny the application on newly discovered grounds of ineligibility; or
- Re-determine the original decision and reverse the original decision to deny, and approve the naturalization application.
At our client’s N-336 hearing, attorney Ismail Shahtakhtinski argued that our client’s naturalization application was incorrectly denied as our client qualified for the petty offense exception and therefore was eligible for naturalization. The officer agreed and approved our client’s naturalization application.
When applying for naturalization, it is very important to have an experienced immigration attorney by your side. A good lawyer will make sure that your application is consistent with any prior immigration paperwork you filed, and that anything that can cause an issue in your case is properly disclosed and dealt with.
Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have helped many permanent residents become U.S. citizens. If you are interested in applying for naturalization, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].