A new client contacted me with an urgent dilemma: She had just been told that her US citizen child was not really a US citizen, and USCIS planned to deny the child’s application for a certificate of citizenship. But the child already had a US passport, issued by the US Department of State. The client was sure that USCIS was wrong because her child had derived US citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, and after analyzing the case, I agreed–the child was clearly a US citizen. But what could be done to get USCIS to recognize its error and issue the certificate of citizenship? The client could sue USCIS in federal court–but perhaps there was an easier and less expensive path. In the end, before filing a lawsuit, we filed a request for assistance with the Citizenship & Immigration Services Ombudsman.
Immigration cases are often very complicated, and the complexity of the law and constantly changing procedures often lead to situations where a case ends up in limbo, the Government makes a mistake, or the case may need to be expedited to prevent hardship. When the matter involves a mix-up or delay at United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the Ombudsman’s Office can help. Asking the Ombudsman for help is free; one simply fills out a form (DHS-7001) and sends it to the Ombudsman; in Texas and Washington, DC, one can even file the form online through a new pilot program. The Ombudsman has a website that provides a link to the DHS-7001 and the procedures for filing it.
Before filing a DHS 7001 form with the Ombudsman, we go through these steps to try to resolve the problem:
- Call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (or for cases involving US military members, 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645))
- Check My Case Status Online
- Make an INFOPASS Appointment with USCIS
If none of those steps will resolve the problem, filing the DHS 7001 may be the next best step.
In fact, in the case discussed above, the help of the Ombudsman resulted in a quick reversal of USCIS’s initial erroneous decision, and the child was able to get her certificate of citizenship.