Here’s the transcript to our latest video on Youtube about what it means when an immigration officer tells you that your citizenship case is “pending review” even though you may have already passed the test.
Within a naturalization context, it is not uncommon for an examiner to sometimes inform an applicant that a decision cannot be rendered that day and that the file is “pending review.” This can happen even if the applicant has technically passed the English and civics portion of the examination. Unfortunately, this can occur because the officer is not yet ready to grant final approval on the case. This can be for any number of reasons, sometimes for reasons beyond the applicant’s control, and sometimes because the officer needs more information or documentation from the applicant. For example, a case may be put on administrative hold because an applicant’s fingerprints may not yet have cleared yet. Other times, a background check may not yet be complete. Sometimes, an officer may not have had a chance to review the applicant’s green card file, and may want to go through it thoroughly before making a decision on the naturalization petition. As mentioned before, sometimes a decision cannot be made because the officer requires more information from the applicant. For instance, if you have been arrested and not furnished the certified disposition for your case, the officer may postpone a decision until you have provided the documentation.
There is no official, set number of days that an officer must take before having to make a decision. It is not uncommon for months to go by before hearing back from USCIS. Of course, everything should be within reason. If, for example, the review has nothing to do with anything missing on your end, than the applicant needs to give the officer a fair amount of time either to review the file or hear back from whatever agency he or she needs to hear back from. On the other hand, if you are requested to provide documentation or information, the officer cannot continue the review process unless or until you have first complied with the request and submitted whatever is requested.
Sometimes, these situations are not always so clear. If an officer is requesting something that is either inappropriate or not relevant to the decision making process, an attorney may be able to address the request. Other times, an individual may have applied for naturalization without realizing the implications of doing so and unknowingly raised an issue that could jeopardize status. For these reasons, it makes sense to consult with an experienced naturalization attorney who is familiar with citizenship eligibility requirements and all the potential minefields that accompany such an application.