Victory for Immigrant New Yorkers Seeking U.S. Citizenship
In 2008, Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York approved a groundbreaking settlement of Yakubova v. Chertoff. NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit (SLU) and IPU brought this case on behalf of immigrants challenging unlawful delays in the processing of naturalization applications by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Many of the immigrants who benefited from this settlement had been waiting years for a decision on their naturalization applications. Some had been waiting more than three years for a decision, despite repeated requests for adjudication. Many of them suffered significant harm as result of the delay. For example, O.F., a decorated veteran of the United States Navy who applied for citizenship and had waited for three years. During this time, he could not get a Unites States Government job because he was not a citizen.
Under the settlement agreement, USCIS was ordered to adjudicate approximately 90% of the naturalization applications of the 1,426 individuals residing in Kings, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, and Suffolk counties who had been waiting more than 120 days after their citizenship interviews for decisions on their applications. The most common concern of the clients at the time was that they would not be able to vote in the presidential election. That fear was put to rest when the court further ordered timely adjudication of the applications and for approved applicants to be sworn in in time for the election.