Can a cit­i­zen­ship de­nial be ap­pealed?

Jamaica Gleaner - - IMMIGRATIO­N CORNER - Dahlia Walker-Hunt­ing­ton Dahlia A. Walker-Hunt­ing­ton, Esq, is a Ja­maican Amer­i­can at­tor­ney who prac­tises im­mi­gra­tion law in the United States; and fam­ily, crim­i­nal and in­ter­na­tional law in Florida. She is a me­di­a­tor and spe­cial mag­is­trate in Broward Count

Dear Mrs Hunt­ing­ton,

IHAVE a friend who went, through a lawyer, to do his United States (US) cit­i­zen­ship in­ter­view in Jan­uary 2019. How­ever, the lawyer did not present him­self with my friend at the in­ter­view. This is his third time ap­ply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship.

The in­ter­view­ing of­fi­cer told him that based on out­stand­ing in­for­ma­tion/ doc­u­ments such as child sup­port in Ja­maica, as well as a DNA re­port, she will send the file to her su­pe­rior/co-worker to look at. In a pre­vi­ous in­ter­view, he was asked if he had any chil­dren in Ja­maica. His an­swer was that his name was called, but he was not sure the child be­longs to him. The of­fi­cer said they would in­form him, via mail, of their de­ci­sion. If he is not suc­cess­ful, can this be ap­pealed?

Thank you.

–N

Dear N,

To qual­ify for US cit­i­zen­ship, a per­son must be a green card holder for five years (three years if they ob­tained their res­i­dency through mar­riage to a US cit­i­zen and they are cur­rently mar­ried and liv­ing with their US cit­i­zen spouse); be a per­son of good moral char­ac­ter; have not been ab­sent from the US for six months or more; and must be phys­i­cally present in the United States more than they have been ab­sent dur­ing the rel­e­vant pe­riod.

Good moral char­ac­ter en­com­passes sev­eral com­po­nents, and one of them is the is­sue of child sup­port. If a per­son has a child who is not in their cus­tody, the US Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity (DHS) ex­pects proof that the cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­cant is fi­nan­cially sup­port­ing his/her child. In the case of your friend, the US gov­ern­ment would ex­pect him to know defini­tively if he is, or is not, the fa­ther of a child.

You did not in­di­cate whether your friend told his at­tor­ney of his pre­vi­ous de­nials and about the is­sue of the al­leged child. This is clearly a case where an at­tor­ney was needed in the prepa­ra­tion for the in­ter­view and to ac­com­pany your friend.

The DHS would have is­sued two pre­vi­ous de­nial no­tices in­di­cat­ing the rea­sons for not grant­ing your friend his US cit­i­zen­ship. Your friend should ex­plain what, if any, re­la­tion­ship he has with this child and work with his at­tor­ney to dis­cover whether he is in fact the fa­ther of the child. It ap­pears from your email that at some point, the DHS must have asked your friend and the child to sub­mit to a DNA test. Clearly, that is nec­es­sary to de­ter­mine the pa­ter­nity of the child and your friend’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

A de­nial of his cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tion can only be ap­pealed if the DHS made a mis­take in the ap­pli­ca­tion of the law to the facts pre­sented. A le­gal de­ci­sion can­not be de­nied be­cause you dis­agree. In this case, if your friend is again de­nied, he needs to straighten out the pa­ter­nity and child­sup­port is­sue be­fore reap­ply­ing.

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