Certificate of US Citizenship – Proof of US Citizenship

 

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Certificate of US Citizenship – Application Fee to almost double on December 23, 2016.

Were you born outside the US to a US citizen parent? Did one of your parents become a naturalized citizen before you turned 18?  If you can answer “yes” to either of these questions you may be a US citizen.

Read the information below to see if you might already be a US citizen.  Please note that this can be a complicated determination. You should not claim to be a US citizen without enough proof.  There are serious penalties for claiming to be a US citizen when you are not actually a citizen, including a permanent ban on filing immigration applications. To schedule a consultation with our office for help on this issue, click on contact us.

The application fee to file an application for a certificate of citizenship will  almost double on December 23, 2016. This fee will go up from $600 to $1170.  If you are eligible to file an application for a certificate of US citizenship, read the information below.

Most people become a US citizen by birth in the US, or by applying for naturalization after being a green card holder for five years (three years in the case of a green card based on marriage to a US citizen).  Some people become a US citizen at birth, or may become a US citizen based on the naturalization of a parent before the child turns 18. The laws about who qualifies to be a citizen are complicated and change over time.  The information that follows provides a general outline of the requirements for acquiring or deriving US citizenship from a US citizen parent.  If you think you may already be a US citizen, it will be important to meet with an immigration lawyer to help you decide if you should apply for a Certificate of Citizenship to prove that you are a US citizen.

There are two ways to become a US citizen.

  1. Birth in the US
  2. Birth outside the US to US citizen parent(s)
  • Depending on the law in place at the time of your birth, if you were born outside the US to US citizen parents you may have become a US citizen at birth
  • If your US citizen parent naturalized before you turned 18, you may have become a US citizen at the time your parent became a naturalized US citizen.

Birth Outside the US to US citizen parent(s)

  • One or both parents must be US citizens
  • Your US citizen parent must meet the US residence requirements that were in place at the time of your birth
    • “Residence” means principal dwelling place (where your parent lived)
  • If only one parent was a US citizen at the time of your birth, whether they were married at the time of your birth may affect the determination on whether you became a US citizen at your birth

Naturalization of US citizen parent

  • Your US citizen parent became a naturalized citizen before you turned 18
  • You are the biological child of your US citizen parent
  • You must be lawfully admitted to the US for permanent residence (a green card holder)
  • You must be living in the legal and physical custody of your US citizen parent
  • If you are living outside the US different rules apply

Adopted Children may also become US citizens through a US citizen parent. This depends on the date of your birth and the laws in place at time you turned 18

Immigration Application Fees to Increase 12/23/2016

gallery-thumbnailsUSCIS Imigration Application Filing Fees will increase on December 23, 2016. If you are thinking about filing an immigration application, and you are eligible, file now before the fee increase.  Any application filed or postmarked on December 23, 2016 must include the new fee, or it will be returned by USCIS.

To find out if you are eligible to file an immigration applcation, or for help with an immigration issue click on Contact Us

Some of the filing fee amounts will increase by a large amount.  The list below includes some, but not all, of the forms that will require a larger filing fee on 12/23/2016.

Family Immigration Applications

Application/Petition New Fee Old Fee
Fiancé(e) Petition, Form I-129F $460 $325
Relative Petition, form I-130 $535 $340

 

Employment Immigration Applications

Application/Petition New Fee Old Fee
Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129 $460 $325
Immigrant Worker, Form I-140 $700 $580

 

Green Card Applications (in the US)

Application/Petition New Fee Old Fee
Adjust Status to Permanent Resident (green card holder),

Certain applicants under age 14

$1140 + $85 Biometric fee

Total = $1225

$750

$985 + $85 Biometric fee

Total = $1070

$635

Remove Conditions on Residence, Form I-751 $595 + $85 Biometric Fee

Total = $670

$505 + $85 biometric Fee

Total = $590

 

Citizenship Applications

Application/Petition New Fee Old Fee
Naturalization, Form N-400 $640 + $85 Biometric fee

Total = $725

Certain low-income applications may qualify for a reduced fee

$595 + $85 Biometric Fee

Total = $680

Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-600 $1170 $600/$550

 

Miscellaneous Applications

Application/Petition New Fee Old Fee
Extend/Change Nonimmigrant (Temporary) Status $370 $290
Waiver of Ground of Excludability, Form I-601

 

$585 $930
Provisional Waiver of Unlawful Presence, Form I-601A $630 $585
Employment Authorization, Form I-765 $410 $380
Travel Document, Forms I-131 & I-131A $575 $360

For a complete list of the new fees click on New Immigration Fees

Applying for a Fiance(e) Visa?

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Fiance(e) Visa Application and Application for a Green  Card – Five-Steps 

If you are a foreign national  engaged to a US citizen, the US citizen may sponsor you for a green card.  This is a five-step process.

 

 

  1. USCIS: US citizen fiance(e) may file a fiance(e) petition with USCIS.
  2.  National Visa Center:(NVC): Once the fiance(e) petition is approved, the file is sent to the NVC for collection of fees, forms and documents. Once the NVC has received the correct fees, forms and documents, it sends the file to a US Embassy for a visa interview.  You will find helpful information in working with the NVC below.
  3. US Embassy: When the fiance(e) visa application is complete, the visa applicant will be scheduled for an interview at a US Embassy.  The embassy website provides helpful information on what you will need to bring to the interview.
  4. Border: Once the fiance(e) visa is approved by the US Embassy, the visa applicant will receive a fiance(e) visa stamp that may be presented at the US border for admission to the US. As long as the fiance(e) visa-holder is admissible to the US, he or she will be admitted for up to 90 days to marry the US citizen.
  5. USCIS: If the fiance(e) visa-holder marries his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of entry, the fiance(e) visa holder may file an application for a green card in the US.

Tips for working with the NVC

1.NVC Website

Provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions at:

FAQ’s in English  or FAQ’s in Spanish

2. Documents

Send copies of documents NOT the original documents to the NVC.  This includes birth certificates. The green card applicant must bring the original documents to the visa interview.

3. Mailing Documents to the NVC

Mail all documents in one envelope and include the cover sheet provided by the NVC in this envelope.

4. US Embassy Website

After scheduling a green card interview appointment, visit the US Embassy website for the embassy where you will be interviewed. The website will include the most recent information on the required medical appointment and processing fees required by the embassy.

Lost Green Card or Re-entry Permit and Need to Board a Plane to the US?

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Lost Green Card or Re-entry Permit and Need to Board a Plane to the US?

A new form, Form I-131A, allows those who have lost a green card or re-entry permit  to apply for a travel document  to present to an airline or vessel for boarding.

Who is eligible to apply for a boarding document?

  1. If your green card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed

      And

  1. You are returning from a temporary trip outside the US of less than one year

      Or

  1. Your Re-entry Permit has been Lost, stolen, or destroyed

     And

  1. You are returning from a temporary trip outside the US of less than two years

You may file Form I-131A to apply for documentation to present to your carrier for boarding

 

How do I apply for a Travel Document if I am eligible to File Form I-131A?

  1. Pay the filing fee online at: Form I-134A Filing Fee
  • The current filing fee is $360.  This may change, so be sure to get updated information on the amount of the filing fee.
  1. Apply in person at a US Embassy or consulate
  • Bring evidence that you have paid the fee with you.

If you are eligible for Form I-131A, the US Embassy or consulate will generally issue documentation you may provide to your carrier (carrier documentation) within two weeks.  This documentation allows a permanent resident (green card holder) to prove to a transportation carrier that he or she is authorized to travel to the US.  You will still be inspected at the border and a Customs and Border Protection officer will make a decision on your admission to the US.

Please Note:

  1. The carrier documentation does not provide a new green card. You need to file Form I-90 to request a replacement green card.
  1. Before you go to a US embassy or consulate to apply for a travel document, contact the embassy or consulate to verify that the embassy is able to process Form I-131A and to get updates on instructions. You may be able to get this information from the embassy or consulate website.
  1. If your green card has expired, and you are still in possession of your expired green card, you may not need to file Form I-131A. If you have an expired green card, check with your carrier before you file Form I-131A.
  • Although immigration regulations require green card holders to travel with a valid (unexpired) green card, there is a Customs and Border Patrol policy that allows carriers bound for the US to board green card holders if one of the following applies :
    • Your expired green card was issued with a 10- year expiration date, or
    • Your expired green card has a 2-year expiration date, AND
      • You filed a petition to remove the condition on your green card, and
      • You received a notice that extends the validity of the card

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

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What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows nationals from countries that have been designated by the US as dangerous, to stay temporarily in the US until it is safe to return to their home country.  The danger usually involves either civil unrest or a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or an epidemic.  To apply for TPS, you must already be in the US.  You do not need to be in lawful immigration status in the US to apply for TPS.  You must  be from a country that is currently designated for TPS by the US to be eligible to apply for TPS. If your application for TPS is approved, you will be eligible for permission to work in the US for the TPS period.  You will also be protected from deportation during the TPS period.

 

How is TPS Different than Asylum or Refugee Status?

Asylees and refugees apply individually for admission to the US and, if they are admitted, may be able to apply for a green card.  Those who receive TPS are usually approved for  a temporary period of 18 months.  The US may extend TPS after the original designation, however it is expected that when conditions in the designated country are safe, those with TPS will return to their home country. TPS, by itself, does allow you to apply for a green card.

 

What are the Requirements for TPS?

  1. You must be a national of a country designated for TPS.

For a list of countries currently designated for TPS see the USCIS website below. https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status#What%20is%20TPS?

  1. You must file for TPS during the open initial registration or reregistration period, or meet the requirements for late filing.
  1. You must have been physically present in the continuously since the date of the most recent designation of our country for TPS; and
  1. You must have resided continuously in the US since the date set for your country by the US. This date is usually the same as, or before, the date required for physical presence.

Who is not eligible for TPS?

  1. Anyone convicted in the US of any felony or two more misdemeanors.
  1. Anyone who is not admissible to the US based on criminal or security grounds.
  1. Anyone who is not able to meet the continuous physical presence and continuous residence requirements above.
  1. Anyone who has not met the initial or late initial TPS registration requirements.
  1. Anyone granted TPS who failed to re-register for TPS without good cause.

Be Careful of Immigration Scams

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USCIS issued a new warning about immigration scams. If someone calls you about an immigration application and asks for personal information or money to “fix” a problem with your application do not provide the information or a payment.  Instead report the call to USCIS.  For more information on immigration scams and how to report problems click on scams

Warning: If you are not a US citizen, do not register to vote!

You must be a US citizen to be able to vote in a US election.  If you are not a US citizen, do not register to vote in a US election, or in any way claim to be a US citizen.  If you claim to be a US citizen and you are not a US citizen, this may be a permanent bar to eligibility for almost and immigration benefit.  If you have been a permanent resident for five years ( three years if you are married to a US citizen) you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship.  To learn more about the requirements to apply for US citizenship see Apply for US Citizenship.

STEM OPT Deadline

STEM OPT Deadline

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If you are now on a 17-month OPT (optional Practical Training) extension, you may apply to extend your OPT period for an extra 7 months.  You must file form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) by August 8, 2016. This form must be signed and submitted with the correct fee. For more information on the 7-month extension see 7 Month Extension  The current filing fee for form I-765 is $385.  You should check the filing fee before sending your application because filing fees may  change.

The rules for STEM extension application changed in 2016.  The change allows those who qualify, to apply for a 24-month OPT extension.  Students who are currently on a 17-month STEM extension may apply for an additional 7 months, but must meet the August 8, 2016 deadline.  For more information on the 24-month OPT extension see STEM OPT.

Record Departure from US

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How to record Departure from the US

It may be important to prove the date(s) of your departure from the US.  For example, you may need to show that you have not overstayed your admission period to the US, or you may want to document the time you have spent out of the US for purposes of recapturing time in H-1B status.

 When you enter the US by air or sea, DHS records your entry and departure electronically. DHS no longer issues paper I-94 at air or sea ports of entry.  You may visit the following website to print a copy of your electronic I-94.  Print copy of I-94

If you left the US by commercial airline or cruise ship, the Department of Homeland Security may independently verify your departure.  It is therefore not necessary for you to take any further action to record your departure.  It would be a good idea however, for you to keep your outbound boarding pass.  This may help you the next time you re-enter the US.

If you enter the US by land, DHS will issue a paper I-94. You should turn this in at the border upon your departure so that your exit from the US is recorded properly.

If you left the US without registering your departure by turning in your I-94 card, you should take steps to make sure that your departure has been recorded by the Department of Homeland Security.

If you left the US by land, private ship or private plane, you may take the following steps to prove that you left the US:

  1. Send your I-94 Departure record, along with any paper documents that prove you left the US to:

Coleman Data Solutions

Box 7965

Akron, OH 44306

Attn: NIDPS (I-94)

USA

(If using U.S. Postal Service)

Coleman Data Solutions

3043 Sanitarium Road, Suite 2

Akron, OH  44312

Attn: NIDPS (I-94)

(If using FedEx or UPS

  1. Documents that will help you prove departure from the US.
  • Original boarding passes you used to depart another county, if you flew home from there,
  • Photocopies of entry or departure stamps in your passport showing entry to another country after you left the US, include a copy of the biographical page from your passport
  • Photocopies of other evidence showing that you left the US, such as:
  • Dated paychecks of vouchers showing that you worked in another country after you left the US.
  • Dated bank records, showing transactions showing transactions indicating that you were in another country after you left the US
  • School records showing attendance at a school outside the US, and
  • Dated credit card receipts, showing your name, for purchases made after you left the US
  1. You may include a letter to explain how the records you provided prove that you left the US.

Keep a copy of everything you send to the Department of Homeland Security.  Bring the copy with you the next time you come to the US. For more information on Form I-94 visit the following website I-94 Facts .

Supreme Court Decision: Deferred Action for Parents

 

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News Flash: The US Supreme Court announced a decision today  on the deferred action for parents (DAPA) program.  The court reached a deadlock on this issue.  The court will leave in place the lower court decision that blocks the deferred action program for undocumented (sometimes called illegal) parents of US citizen and permanent resident children. For more information on the court decision see  DAPA Court Decision.

The earlier, two-year Deferred Action program for undocumented children who entered the US before their 16th birthday and who have lived in the US since June 15, 2007, is still available for those who qualify.  For more information on this program see Two-Year Deferred Action.