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Tips for Naturalization (US Citizenship) Applications

 

  1. You must be eligible to apply for naturalization. 

If you are not eligible, not only will your application be denied, depending on your circumstances, you might lose your permanent residence (green card) status. For information on who is eligible to apply for naturalization visit Who is Eligible for Naturalization.

 

  1. English Language requirement

You must be able to read, write and speak basic English.

 

  1. Exemption for the English Language Test

50/20 Rule

  • If you are 50 years old, and have lived in the US as a green card holder for at least 20 years, you may not have to take the English test. You must still take the civics test, but you may take it in your native language.

55/15 Rule

  • If you are 55 years old, and have lived in the US as a green card holder for at least 15 years, you may not have to take the English test. You must still take the civics test, but you may take it in your native language.

 

  1. Medical Exception to the English Language and/or Civics (US History & Government) Test

If you have one of the following conditions, you may be eligible for an exemption of the English language, and or, civics test requirements:

  • Physical Disability
  • Developmental Disability
  • Mental Impairment

For these conditions, you must prove that the condition has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months.  You need evidence from your doctor to explain how your disability or impairment prevents you from learning English. For an exemption from the civics test, you must prove that the disability or impairment prevents you from learning the information needed to pass the test.

 

  1. Children

Be sure to list ALL your children, even children who do not live in the US, or who do not live with you. If did not list all your children on forms you have already filed with the Immigration Service (USCIS), you will need to explain why you did not list them on an earlier form.

 

  1. Child Support

If you have children under 21, who do not live with you, provide evidence that you provide financial support for each child.  Also, provide evidence, such as copies a child support or government order, and show how you have followed the order. This could include documents such as:

  • Cancelled checks or money order receipts;
  • Government documents showing child support payments
  • Evidence that your wages have been garnished
  • Notarized letter from the person who cares for your children

 

  1. Trips Outside the US for 6 Months or Longer

If you have been outside the US for 6 months or longer after becoming a green card holder, you should provide evidence that you continued to intend to live in the US during the entire time you were outside the US, such as;

  • You continued to have employment in the US
  • Your close relatives remained in the US
  • You maintained a residence in the US

 

  1. Selective Service
  • If you are a man between the ages of 18 and 26, you must provide proof that you registered with the Selective Service.
  • If you are age 26 or older and required to register with the Selective Service, but did not register, you must explain why you did not register. You will also need a status information letter from the Selective Service. For more information on Selective Service registration click on sss.gov.

 

  1. Arrests/Convictions – Anywhere in the world, for any reason
  • If no charges were filed, you must provide proof that your case was ended by the court.
  • If charges were filed, you must provide evidence of what happened with the charges.
  • If you have had any arrests or conviction vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged or in any way removed from your record, you need to provide a statement from the court that there is no record of your arrest or conviction.

Please Note:

  • You must provide the above evidence even if a judge, government officer or lawyer told you that you no longer have a record, or that you do not have to disclose the arrest/conviction.
  • You must provide evidence of traffic violations if:
    • The incident involved alcohol or drugs; or
    • The incident led to an arrest; or
    • The incident seriously injured another person

 

  1. Forms and Filing Fees Can Change
  • Be sure to use the most up-to-date version of the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).
  • Be sure to pay the correct filing fee. Visit the Immigration Service website to make sure you use the correct form and pay the correct filing fee.

http://www.syracuseimmigration.com/daly/1638-2/

No Immigration Status? Make a Plan

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No Immigration Status? Make a Plan

There is no way to know what actions the new administration will take concerning immigration after January 20, 2017. It is possible that many undocumented immigrants will be arrested and placed in immigration detention centers. If that happens to you, it will be important for you and your family to have back-up plans in place.

 

If you are undocumented (without immigration status in the US) you may want to take some of the following steps to protect yourself and your family in case you arrested by Immigration.

  1. If you are eligible to apply for any immigration status in the US, you should apply as soon as possible. For example, if you are married to a US citizen, and you entered the US with a visa, you may apply for a green card in the US. If this applies to you, and you file before you are arrested, you may be able to be released from immigration custody.
  1. Make sure someone you trust has your personal information, so that they can find out where you are being held and/or communicate with you if you are deported. This information includes;
  • Accurate spelling of your name, including your middle name and any other names used
  • Birthday
  • Social Security number (if any)
  • Address and other contact information outside the US, including the names of relatives or friends who may receive mail on your behalf
  • Other contact information for you such as an e-mail address, or the phone number of relatives or friends in the US
  • Copies of any notices you may have received from USCIS or the Immigration Court
    • These papers will contain your A number, if you have one. This will make it easier for your relatives to locate you. Not everyone has an A number.
  1. If you have children in the US, you will need to have a plan in place for their care.
  • Custody or Guardianship Plans
  • Designate someone to care for your children in an emergency
  • Consult a family law attorney about custody or guardianship in case you are detained
  • If no parent or relative is available to take custody or guardianship of your children, it is important to make sure that whoever cares for your children has the legal power to make decisions for them concerning medical care and education. The documents below may be important:
  • Power of attorney for health care and education for your children
  • Power of attorney for finances for your children
  1. Make a will, or update your will, so that your husband, wife or children will have a legal claim to your assets.
  1. Designate/Update beneficiaries on pension or retirement accounts and life insurance policies
  1. Beware of immigration scams. During a time of uncertainty, it is even more important to be on the lookout for immigration scams. Those who are at risk of getting arrested and deported are more likely to be targeted by scam artists who try to sell their phony services to those who have no options for staying in the US. They do this by:
  • Filing applications that include false information. It is very important that all the information included on an immigration application be truthful and accurate. If you file a form that includes false information, or for a benefit for which you are not eligible, it may make it impossible for you to file immigration applications later.
  • Providing fake documents, such as a fake green card, or a fake driver’s license. If you give false documents to an immigration officer, you may never be able to return to the US, even if you become eligible to apply for immigration status in the future.
  1. In most cases, if you entered the US without inspection at the border (you did not answer questions from an inspector) or you overstayed your period of admission (stamped in your passport) you will not be able to file an immigration application in the US. In some cases, you may be able to file an immigration application from your home country.
  1. To help you look at your immigration choices, or plan for future immigration to the US, we strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. If you want to schedule an appointment for a consultation with a lawyer from our office, click on contact us.

Remember:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably not true.
  • Immigration officers do not call people on the phone asking for money.
  • You cannot “buy” a valid green card or social security card.
  • You must be eligible to apply for a green card, usually because you have a close relative or an employer who may file an application for you.
  • Do not be tricked by rumors and bad information.
  • Protect yourself and your children by planning for the future.

Tips for the LGBT Community on Immigration Matters post-2016 Elections

 

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Tips for the LGBT Community on Immigration Matters post-2016 Elections

Prepared from information provided by the LGBT Committee of the MN/Dakotas chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Marriage equality is the law of the land. The Supreme Court is unlikely to reconsider the Windsor and Ogbergefell decisions that grant the right to marry to same-sex couples. At least not right away, although this may change in the future.  The following tips provide suggestions that may help you prepare for future changes in the law.

Please note:  These tips are not intended as legal advice.  They provide general information, but do not substitute for legal advice from an experienced immigration lawyer who is familiar with the facts of your case. To be sure that you are eligible to file an immigration application, we strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment for a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer before you file.

  1. Consider legal marriage as something that is distinct from wedding planning. This means, if you are planning to marry, you may want to consider getting legally married as soon as possible in a civil marriage ceremony. You may chose to hold religious ceremonies, or other celebrations later.  If marriage equality goes away, it will most likely begin with denying the right to those who are not yet married.
  1. If you are not married, or if marriage protections are taken away from same-sex couples, consider the following non-marriage protections:
  •  Power of attorney for finances
  •  Power of attorney for health care
  •  Designation of beneficiaries on insurance, 401(k) and other policies
  •  Update your will to ensure your spouse has a legal claim to your assets
  1. If you are a same-sex couple with children, consider co-parent adoptions to ensure joint parental rights.
  1. If you are a married bi-national same sex couple, consider what your immigration options are in the country of the non-US citizen or non-US permanent resident spouse.
  1. Most petitions and applications for immigration benefits are decided under the law in place at the time of filing.  You may want to consider filing any of the following as soon as you possibly can. Make sure that you are eligible before you apply:
  • I-130 petitions based on marriage to a US citizen or Green Card holder.
  • Applications to extend your status, especially if your status is based on your
  • Marriage (including, but not limited to, F-2, J-2, H-4, L-2, etc.)
  • Adjustment of status (Green Card) applications based on your marriage
  1. If you have a Green Card and you are married to a US citizen, consider filing for naturalization as soon as you are eligible. You must be a green card holder for at least three years if you are married to the US citizen who sponsored you for your Green Card. Make sure that you are eligible for naturalization before you apply.
  1. If you filed for immigration benefits under DACA, this program is likely to end. DACA benefits do not provide protection other than a temporary stay of removal and temporary permission to work in the US.
  1. Be aware of “notarios” and other non-lawyer immigration service providers. Many are well-intentioned, but others are not. If you apply for something that you are not eligible for, or you file an application that contains inaccurate, or false information, your application may be denied.  Even worse, you may not be able to file immigration applications in the future.

Please contact us at office@syracuseimmigration.com  or 315-333-2424, if you would like to schedule an appointment for an immigration consultation with an attorney in our office. You may also contact us at http://www.syracuseimmigration.com/daly/contact-us/

 

Naturalization Interviews in Syracuse NY

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Naturalization Interviews in Syracuse NY

Naturalization interviews are now held  at the USCIS  Satellite Office office in Syracuse NY for applicants in the following counties: Cayuga, Chemung, Cortland, Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga, Oswego, Schuyler and Tompkins. Some naturalization applicants may still need to go to Buffalo NY for their interview. Green Card applicants must still travel to Buffalo for an interview.

 

Be sure to bring the following to your naturalization interview.

  1. Original interview appointment letter
  2. Government issued ID such as a passport, valid driver’s license, Green Card
  3. Application documents
    • copies of all forms filed
    • filing receipts
    • copies of all documents you filed with your application

Reminder:  The filing fee for an application for naturalization (including fingerprinting fee) will increase from $680  to $725 on December 23, 2016.  If you would like help from the attorney’s in our office to determine whether you are eligible to apply for naturalization, please contact us at syracusesimmigration.com

Apply Now for Naturalization?

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Apply Now for Naturalization?

 

 Three good reasons to apply for naturalization (US citizenship) now.

 

  1. US citizenship is a more permanent status than permanent residence ( green card holder). In certain circumstances green card holders may lose their status. For more information on how this can happen see Permanent Residence.
  2. Once you are a US citizen, you may apply for a US passport. A US passport may simplify international. It will also allow you to spend time outside the US without the need to keep track of your absences for purposes of naturalization. Before you can apply for US citizenship you must be a permanent resident for five years (three if your green card was based on marriage to a US citizen). Make sure that you are eligible for US citizenship before you apply. For more on the requirements of  US citizenship see Naturalization.
  3. Naturalization application filing fees will increase on December 23, 2016 from $680 to $725.

If you would like our attorneys to help you apply for naturalization, please contact our office at 315-333-2424 or office@syracuseimmigration.com.

 

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

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

Renewing Green Card While Applying for Naturalization

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Renewing Green Card While Applying for Naturalization

Do I Need to file an application to renew my green card after I have filed my application for naturalization (US citizenship)?

According to the most recent information from USCIS, if your existing green card has at least 6 months of validity left on it when you file your application for naturalization, you do not need to file Form I-90 to renew your green card.  In this case, you are eligible to receive a stamp in your passport as temporary proof of permanent residence without filing form I-90.  You may request this stamp by making an InfoPass appointment with a local USCIS office.  You may make an InfoPass appointment at the USCIS website www.uscis.gov.

 

If your green card will expire within 6 months of filing your application for naturalization, you must file an application to renew your green card by filing Form I-90. To receive a stamp in your passport as temporary proof of permanent residence, you must provide USCIS with an I-90 filing receipt notice.

 

 

In order to avoid the filing fee for an I-90, as long as you are eligible to apply for naturalization, you should file your naturalization application while your green card is valid for at least 6 months.  Please contact our office if you would like more information on eligibility for naturalization.

 

Applying for a Green Card of Fiance(e) Visa at a US Embassy?

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Four Tips for Working with the National Visa Center (NVC)

The NVC processes applications before they sent to a US Embassy abroad.  It processes green card applications and applications for fiance(e) visas. 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.

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 document sin 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.