All About the Citizenship Test

August 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

You have to take the citizenship test as part of the American citizenship process, apart from meeting other eligibility requirements. You are required to demonstrate an understanding of the English language by proving that you can read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in English. You should also have basic knowledge of US government and history (civics) will be also tested on this.

After submitting your completed application to the USCIS with the correct fee and necessary supporting documents, the USCIS will review your application, checking it for completeness. They then will notify you about the date and place to get your fingerprints taken. Subsequently, they will inform you about the interview date. There is a set of 100 questions in the citizenship test and you will be asked 10 out of those. To pass, you should be able to answer at least 6 of the 10 questions correctly.

As stated above, you have to prove that you can read, write and speak English. Your English speaking ability will generally be judged by the way you respond to the questions put forward by the USCIS officer. You will be given three sentences and you have to read one sentence correctly, giving the USCIS officer the impression that you can understand the meaning of the sentence. Here, accent does not count and you will not be failed because of your accent. Coming to the writing part, you will have to write one sentence out of three dictated sentences correctly. Make sure you do not abbreviate any dictated word in the sentence that you write. You will not be failed because of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation errors in your sentence unless such errors change the meaning of the sentence.

The Civics part will be an oral test and you will be given ten questions and you will be declared PASS if you can answer at least six correctly. You will be considered to have successfully passed this section if you can give a correct answer or if you give an alternate phrase of the correct answer, which does not change the meaning of the answer. But, if your answer is not correct or you do not respond to the questions, the result of the test would be ‘FAIL’.

Elderly persons and persons with any medically determinable physical or mental impairment will find it difficult to take the test. Such persons can be exempted from taking the tests. Buy US Citizenship test DVD.

Even if your case is denied as you failed in the English or Civics part, you can re apply as soon as you have mustered enough knowledge to pass the tests. You will be given a second chance and will be re-tested on the portion of the citizenship test that you failed. This will take place between 60 and 90 days from the date of your original interview. But if you fail again, your case will be denied.

You have the right to request a hearing with an immigration official if you believe that the USCIS made a mistake in rejecting your application. You should file Form N-336,”Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” with the USCIS along with the necessary fee within thirty days from the date you received the denial letter. Even after the appeal hearing, you believe that your case is justified, you can file a petition for a new review of your citizenship application in a US district court.

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Changing Your Name on Green Card

August 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

A green card (also known as a permanent resident card) will help you live and work in the US permanently. If your name is changed after getting married, it is required per law that you update this information on your green card. You have to file Form I-90 for a replacement of your green card with the updated information. You can do this online or through mail.

Online Filing Process :

  • Go to http://www.uscis.gov and select Form I-90. You should have an user ID and password to log in to the E-filing system. You can create your own user ID and password. After entering all the information in the form, the system will list out the additional supporting documents that you are required to submit. The next step is to pay the submission fee by credit card or deduction from your check or savings account. The filing fee for Form I-90 is $450. (includes a $85 biometric fee).
  • Make sure you submit copies of any additional documents requested, such as your marriage certificate, photo ID or birth certificate. It is important to note that the USCIS will not start processing your application until they receive the package with all necessary forms listed in their instructions. Mail the application package to :

Nebraska Service Center

Attn: E-Filed I-90 Application

P.O. Box 87090

Lincoln, NE 68502-7090

  • As a subsequent step in the process, the USCIS will send you an appointment notice to get your biometrics taken. Also ensure that you bring the necessary documents with you to your appointment. You have to bring your biometric appointment notice and the original court order or marriage certificate that reflects the change in name. In addition, bring a valid photo ID. The USCIS will accept only your passport, national photo identification issued by your country, driver’s license, military photo ID or state-issued photo ID.

Filing by Mail

  • Download Form I-90 and complete it. Pay careful attention while filling the form. This application will come with instructions that detail the supporting documents that you need to submit. Remember to submit the original court order reflecting the name change or a certified copy of the court order or the marriage certificate indicating your new name.
  • You have to pay the required filing fee (same as mentioned above). Checks have to be made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” You should mail the completed form along with the necessary supporting documents and the submission fee to:

USCIS

P.O. Box 21262

Phoenix, AZ 85036

If you are using USPS Express Mail or a private courier service, mail the application package to :

USCIS

Attention: I-90

1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Floor 1

Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85034

  • After you file application, USCIS will review it and send you a notification regarding when to go to your local USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) for your biometrics appointment. As mentioned earlier, make sure you bring the necessary documents with you to your appointment.

If you want to change any information that you entered on your submitted I-90 application, you should bring evidence that justifies the change, along with you while you appear at your local ASC. Written correspondence regarding such changes will not be accepted. Also remember that USCIS will not honor refunds or returns in the event of an application being canceled or requested for withdrawal.

Crimes That Can Prevent You From Getting US Citizenship

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

You have to meet many eligibility requirements to qualify for American citizenship. One important requirement is that you should be a person of good moral character. If you commit certain crimes during the five years prior to filing the citizenship form or even if you lie during their naturalization interview, you will not be considered to be of “good moral character” and your case will be denied.

A few of the behaviors that show lack of good moral character are drunk driving or being drunk most of the time, illegal gambling, prostitution, telling lies to gain immigration benefits, failing to pay court-ordered child support, committing terrorist acts, persecuting someone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group.

Certain crimes will bar you from becoming an American citizen and if you commit those, you probably will be removed from the country. These crimes are generally known “bars” to naturalization. Crimes that come under “aggravated felonies” are murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, violent assault, treason, and illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people and will result in permanent bars to naturalization.

Persons exempted or discharged from serving in the US Armed Forces and those who deserted from the US Armed Forces are also permanently barred from American Citizenship. The chances of citizenship getting denied is more if you behave in other ways that show you do not have good moral character. There are other crimes that result in temporary bars. Temporary bars prevent you from becoming a US citizen for up to five years since you committed the crime.

While filing the citizenship form, it is very important that you are transparent in disclosing any crime that you committed. Even if the crime was removed from your record or you committed a crime before your 18th birthday, it is mandatory that you report it. If you try to hide such information, citizenship will denied and will also lead to your prosecution. So always be transparent and truthful with the information you provide in your application.

Immigration process, at times can be sophisticated. You can avail the services of a licensed immigration lawyer for any assistance. You can get in touch with your local bar association for assistance in finding a qualified lawyer. Some states certify specialists in US immigration law. However, it is up to decide whether to hire a particular attorney. If you do not have enough money to hire a lawyer, you have some low cost or free assistance options. You can get help from:

  • A Recognized Organization : To qualify, the organization should have adequate knowledge and experience to offer services to those seeking. Such organizations are recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). They charge or accept a very minimal fee for such assistance.
  • An Accredited Representative : Such persons,connected to BIA “recognized organizations” too offer services and charge a minimal fee for the services they render.
  • A Qualified Representative : These persons offer free services. They should have sufficient knowledge in US immigration laws and the rules of practice in court. Law school students and graduates and people with good moral character who have a personal or professional affiliation come under “qualified representatives”.
  • Free Legal Service Providers : There are many attorneys and organizations available to represent immigrants in proceedings before Immigration Courts. Attorneys and organizations help immigrants without accepting any fees only in immigration proceedings. Some may not be able to help you with non-court-related issues such as visa petitions, naturalization, etc.

Renewing Your US Passport by Mail

August 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

You may apply for a renewal of your US passport by mail if you already have a U.S. passport that is not damaged and if you received it within the past 15 years. In addition to this, you should have been at least 16 years of age when it was issued and should still have the same name as on the passport or you can legally document your name change.

However, there are some exceptions for apply by mail ;

  • US citizens residing abroad (except those living in Canada) should renew their passports at the nearest US Embassy or US Consulate
  • US citizens residing in Canada may mail DS-82 renewal applications to the address indicated on the form. However, the payment has to be in US currency.
  • If your passport has been mutilated, altered, or damaged, you cannot apply by mail. You are required to apply in person.

It is important to note that if you are behind in child support payments, you may not be able to get a passport

If you qualify to renew by mail,you have to

  • complete form DS-82, Application for Passport by Mail form. You have to sign and date the application.

You have attach to the application:

  • your most recent passport
  • two identical passport sized photographs
  • the fee payable to the US Department of State
  • expedited service fee (If Applicable).

If your name has changed after your passport was issued, you must also include a certified copy of the legal document specifying your name change (such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree, or a court order). No photocopies are accepted. If your name has been changed by other means, you must apply in person.

Your previous passport will be returned to you with your new passport. If you mutilate or alter your US passport, you may invalidate it and risk possible persecution under the law. Some countries require that your passport be valid at least six months beyond the dates of your trip and/or have two to four blank visa/stamp pages. Some airlines will not allow you to board if these requirements are not met.

 

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