On August 12, USCIS announced a new protocol to expedite the handling of N-400 Applications for Naturalization for certain Non-citizens who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) from the government. Although it is only taking about roughly three to four months these days to be scheduled for an interview–at least in New Jersey–this is a welcome addition to a panoply of programs being pushed out there by USCIS to counterbalance its enforcement agenda. The new policy will essentially fast track N-400 citizenship applications for those non-citizens whose SSI benefits will expire within one year: it provides that once the N-400 application has been pending for at least four months, USCIS will prioritize the case and ensure that it is scheduled for disposition in a timely manner. Therefore, at least for those individuals who are currently on SSI and are aware that their benefits will be expiring within one year, they have some official assurance that their interviews will be scheduled within a reasonable time frame. On another note, our office has received many inquiries about “the new law.” Followers of our blog should be aware that there is no recent “amnesty” legislation out there as of yet. The Department of Homeland Security did announce, however, the creation of a high level committee to oversee and ensure that the government’s mandate of prioritized enforcement is fairly carried out: many cases in the removal hearing pipeline will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine whether “prosecutorial discretion” should be exercised. The purported goal is to make sure that the government uses it resources on the proper targets, ie, aliens with criminal violations who pose a danger to society and our national security. This is a very exciting development and may be a deus ex machina for many innocent people caught up in removal proceedings.
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