Skip to main content

In Walji v. Gonzales, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the U.S. government's attempts to prevent naturalization applicants whose cases have been delayed by a backlog in FBI background checks from taking their cases to federal court.
Shabir Hussein Walji, a Ugandan native and Canadian citizen, had been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since October 16, 1980. He applied for naturalization in September 2003 and passed his interview and citizenship examinations in April 2004. His application has since been on hold pending the completion of his FBI background check.
The court's decision reversed an opinion it issued in June, which said permanent residents who have waited more than 120 days since their citizenship interview could not obtain federal court review over the reasons for the delay. Congress enacted the 120-day limit for the adjudication of naturalization applications as part of the Immigration Act of 1990.
The National Immigrant Justice Center and the American Immigration Lawyers Association submitted an amicus brief in the Walji case, which can be downloaded here.
Read the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, 500 F.3d 432 (5th Cir. 2007).