USCIS Centralizes Naturalization Application Processing

July 3, 2008


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has centralized the initial processing of all naturalization applications. This internal administrative change will not affect where applicants file their naturalization applications. Applicants will continue to file with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Any applications mailed directly from the applicant to the National Benefits Center will be returned to the applicant. All interviews and naturalization tests will continue to be held at the local field offices.

Applicants should be aware that USCIS will send them a notice when the Service Center transfers their application to the National Benefits Center in Missouri for the centralized, initial processing. This notice will also include information on how to contact the National Benefits Center and how to check the local field office for processing times. No action is needed from the applicant.

With over 900,000 naturalization applications pending in April of this year, USCIS states that the change is part of an initiative to increase the efficiency of case management and improve customer service. Liam Boyle, staff attorney with the CUNY Citizenship and Immigration Project, believes that "some clients may be initially confused when receiving the notice of the transfer. However, if the change does indeed speed processing times, it will certainly be welcomed." In recent months the agency has also hired additional officers and begun conducting naturalization interviews outside of normal business hours to address the backlog in application processing.

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