N-400 Reopening and I-90 Approval

N-400 Reopening and I-90 Approval

Applicant: Mr. Zhao
Nationality: Chinese
Applying For: Reopening of N-400 Naturalization, I-90
Time: 1 Month

  • Truly Unique mix-up
  • Case officer switched Naturalization numbers between twin brothers
  • “Failed” to get naturalization because of the number mix due to the client’s naturalization number already comes up as a citizen
  • A long time between original A-Number mix up and current case
  • Was denied an I-90 form
  • Needed to visit his mother in Taiwan



Some cases that come through our door, like the reopening of an N-400 naturalization case, seem more like the premises of movies rather than real life. Our client, Mr. Zhao, has a brother who applied for naturalization back in 1991. And much in the style of a 1990’s comedy, the case officer incorrectly filed his paperwork and gave the brother of our client an alien registration number (A-Number). Instead of wacky hijinks, what followed was regular life; the brothers moved on with their lives, unaware of the mistake. That is until our client applied for his citizenship. His brother had already done so and had apparently been successful, and now it was our client’s wish to do so as well. However, when Mr. Zhao sent in his N-400 naturalization application, he was denied, but for the most curious reason: the A-Number he had put down on the application was the number of someone who was already a citizen.

When Mr. Zhao was brought in to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to do his initial interview for naturalization, the mix up between the twin brothers was finally realized. The case officer told him that they would have to look into his case further and that he would have to go home and await further instructions regarding his case. He had to file an I-90 form to replace his current permanent resident card because his was set to expire. He did so less than a week after discovering the mix up with his brother’s A-Number. He had to wait nearly a full six months before he finally received any word from USCIS, and the word was not good: his I-90 form was denied because it showed him to already be a U.S. citizen. Now not only had he been denied naturalization due to a mistake that was not his own, but he had been stripped of his ability to even call himself a permanent citizen. Mr. Zhao was beginning to feel hopeless and did not know where to go from here. It was at that point where Mr. Zhao came to us.



Such a unique case is not something that many firms would try to handle. There’s no simple form to fill out, there’s no cookie-cutter response to this mess. Plus, such cases can be tricky because ultimately, the applicant (and their attorney) has to tell USCIS that they are wrong. This can very easily go wrong for clients, especially those who try to move forward on their own without legal counsel.

We wrote a letter detailing Mr. Zhao’s case in its entirety, including both the original mistake by the case officer in 1991 and the lack of movement over the previous six months regarding this case. We had to detail why USCIS was wrong in denying Mr. Zhao’s I-90, they were wrong to strip him of his permanent citizenship, and it was a problem they could have avoided if they had looked into the A-Number switch six months ago like Mr. Zhao was told was going to happen.

“He had a mother in Taiwan who was very old. He wanted to go see her and it seemed urgent that he be able to do so. Instead of being able to tell his mom in person he was a naturalized citizen of the United States, now he was in a position where he would have to call her and tell her he couldn’t come see her because he was no longer technically a permanent resident. It was a no-good situation for our client and I was happy I was able to help him.” Cathy Hsu, Account Manager.

To do so, you have to have the right blend of forcefulness, direct evidence, and understanding. Only experience can tell you the right way to argue this case. We included with our letter both the understanding that USCIS is right to be very aware and concerned about identity fraud. They are there to protect the U.S. against such things and they normally do a very good job. We made sure to let them know we were aware of why they made the decision they made, but we also included no less than twelve exhibits of evidence as to why it was not the correct decision. We included all the forms so that anyone reviewing the case could easily follow the paper trail. We included the official notice by USCIS that they were aware that they had made a typographical error. We even had both brothers write letters explaining the situation and their stories.

We closed our package with an emotional plea to the case officer: this situation was entirely unfair to Mr. Zhao and he had an elderly mother he needed to visit in Taiwan. Without naturalization, without his I-90 being approved, he could not safely leave the country to see her.



We received confirmation of Mr. Zhao’s approved I-90 form in less than a month. We also received a notice that the A-Number situation had also been cleared up. Mr. Zhao was approved to reopen his naturalization case as well. Mr. Zhao could not believe this all happened to him but was grateful for our help clearing it up. That feeling of hopelessness had finally left Mr. Zhao’s and he continues growing his future here in America. He is also able to go visit Taiwan to see his mother.

*Name changed to protect client privacy