Muslim Applicants for Citizenship & Their Legal Options When Placed on the CARRP List
Some Muslim immigrants who are seeking U.S. citizenship may face delays in the process if they are covered by the Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program (CARRP). In 2008, the U.S. government started this program as a way of subjecting foreign nationals from certain parts of the world to extra scrutiny when they are seeking asylum, a green card, or citizenship. It covers people from the Arab world and other parts of the Middle East, as well as many people from South Asia and other Muslim regions. In some cases, people on the CARRP list may be denied legal status in the U.S. without notice or any apparent justification. USCIS may review their applications in conjunction with the FBI, which can result in long delays even if they are ultimately approved.
A foreign national does not have an opportunity to challenge being placed on the CARRP list, nor will they receive an official notification that they are on the list. If you believe that you may be on the list, you can contact the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as an attorney. The ACLU has taken the lead in investigating and monitoring the CARRP program, and it pursues litigation when the program produces unlawful results.
Contact the ACLU or a Lawyer
Contacting the ACLU or an experienced immigration attorney may be the best avenue for a foreign national who believes that they are on the CARRP list.
Placement on the CARRP List
You do not need to have committed a crime or an immigration violation to appear on the CARRP list. Simply coming from a certain foreign country, participating in a certain cultural or religious activity, or traveling to countries that are known sites of terrorist activities can put you on the list. You may even be placed on the list if you are affiliated with a group that triggers national security concerns, or if you donate to an organization that has been known to provide material support to terrorism.
USCIS or the FBI has 180 days to conduct an investigation of a CARRP foreign national who is applying for legal status in the U.S. Their application will be paused during that time. In reality, the agencies may require more than 180 days to complete this investigation, so the waiting period may last longer. Unfortunately, the investigation may result in a denial of an application for legal status even if the applicant is otherwise eligible.
It is not always obvious when you have been placed on the CARRP list. Delays are not uncommon in the immigration process, and you might need to wait several months or even longer for a final decision on your application. To get a sense of what may be normal, you can visit the USCIS website, but you should be aware that delays beyond the supposedly normal waiting period may occur. If a delay has lasted much longer than the normal processing time, and you are from the Middle East, South Asia, or another Muslim region, you may have reason to suspect that you are on the CARRP list. You also may be on the list if USCIS cancels your naturalization interview or another stage of your application without notice or explanation. Sometimes an FBI agent will ask a foreign national on the CARRP list to provide information about Muslim residents in their area or Muslim community organizations.