Obtaining citizenship in the United States of America is a life-changing experience for many people, and it is our firm’s ultimate goal for our clients. Unfortunately, this process can take quite a long time. Some delay is to be expected while obtaining your U.S. citizenship, but there comes a point when these delays become excessive—or in legal terms, “unreasonable.”

If you are facing an unreasonable delay for citizenship in Boston, you might be entitled to relief. An experienced immigration delay attorney at our firm could identify the cause of your delay and help you avoid any further procedural roadblocks during this process. Having everything filed promptly and properly with a legal professional’s assistance could help you achieve a more timely decision in your case.

Common Causes of Delays

Delays can happen for several reasons. For starters, the pursuit of citizenship is a complicated process that does not occur overnight. It is not unusual for successful applications for citizenship to take between 12 and 18 months to conclude. For example, as of January 2023, the Boston Field Office and Lawrence Field Office naturalization processing times were about 14 months, the Manchester, New Hampshire Field Office naturalization processing time was about 13 months, 15 months in Portland, Maine, and 18 months in the Burlington, Vermont Field Office. *

Not all citizenship cases will be resolved in that timeframe, however. Most unreasonable delays result from administrative errors that occur with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offices. Files can be lost, and documents can be misplaced. As a Boston attorney can further explain, these simple errors could dramatically impact how long it takes to get a decision in a citizenship case.

What Makes a Delay Unreasonable?

Naturalization applications are unique because federal law requires the USCIS to make a decision within 120 days of the naturalization interview. If more than 120 days pass after the exam, the applicant has a specific right of action in the federal court. The federal court that has jurisdiction over the local USCIS office has the power to order the office to take action on a case.

Of course, USCIS can avoid that requirement by never scheduling the interview. If the delay is occurring before the interview is scheduled, the situation is more complex. The primary issue in these cases is whether or not the delay is reasonable. The reality is that a delay is a necessary part of some citizenship cases. This is especially true in cases where an applicant has left important information off of their application or failed to attach all the necessary documentation to process the case.

Any applicant that has not received a decision after the standard processing period has the ability to request service on their file. If this does not resolve the unreasonable citizenship delay, an attorney serving Boston might be able to help.

How Could an Attorney Help?

There are steps a Boston attorney can take to attempt to resolve an unreasonable delay in a citizenship case. The first step many attorneys take is to simply make contact with USCIS. Some delays result from nothing more than administrative errors, and contact from an attorney could resolve these issues. In other cases, a writ of mandamus might be the only option left.

A writ of mandamus is a type of lawsuit filed against the government. The purpose of this lawsuit is to force the government to perform a task or function that it is required to perform by law. In this case, a writ of mandamus requires USCIS to come to a decision on a citizenship application.

It is important to remember that the efforts by an attorney are specifically focused on addressing the delay itself. Resolving an unreasonable delay does not mean the answer from USCIS in a citizenship case will be favorable. It is entirely possible that resolving the delay will result in a denial of the citizenship application. This decision is made on the merits of the case, and any delay cannot be taken into account. Still, there is tremendous value in receiving an answer from USCIS after so much time has passed.

Contact an Attorney About Unreasonable Delays for Citizenship in Boston

No one should have to face an excessive delay in their citizenship case. While it is normal for this process to take some time, some delays are beyond the scope of what should be expected.

Let an experienced attorney help you resolve your unreasonable delay for citizenship in Boston. Reach out to our firm today to schedule a private consultation.

*For updated processing times, Gorton Law clients can ask their case manager or refer to the USCIS processing time site at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/