Temporary Protected Status

September 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Next week, it is expected that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will publish a notice in the Federal Register extending Haiti’s Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

The Federal Register notice will give guidance on:

  • the eligibility requirement for TPS;
  • Re-registering process if you have TPS;
  • date to file TPS applications;
  • Requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) – the process
  • Six-month extension of current EADs;
  • Fees and fee waiver procedures and
  • other additional information.

You will not be eligible if you have not continuously resided in the US since Jan. 12, 2011.

USCIS also announced a new initiative to provide the Los Angeles Public Library’s 73 locations with Naturalization resources and training for the library staff.

These are some of the highlights of this new initiative:

  • Training for library staff on the citizenship process and the USCIS resources available
  • Creating different space in each library as ‘citizenship corners,’ which will have the citizenship material and resources;
  • Providing a list of non-profit groups providing citizenship assistance in the local community and
  • Giving access to library community rooms for citizenship and English language classes.

Los Angeles has immigrants from more than 140 countries who speak 224 languages. California has nearly 3.4 million permanent residents, 2.5 million of those are estimated to qualify to apply for naturalization. USCIS and the City of Los Angeles initially came into a partnership when they signed a Letter of Agreement for a two-year project. It was scheduled to end in January 2012, but the two parties agreed to renew it for an additional year in April 2012.

Another development in the USCIS front is ‘E-Verify Listens, an online forum where users can submit and suggest ideas, as well as vote for their favorites. The next six months will see blog posts about some of the great ideas and conversations taking place on E-Verify Listens. E-Verify is a free, web-based service that allows employers to confirm the employment eligibility of new employees quickly.

Green Cards For Relatives

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Many foreign nationals become permanent residents of the United States because their immediate relatives who are US citizens or permanent residents (green card) holders petition them. One who helps a relative in becoming a US permanent resident is called the Petitioner and the one who seeks to become a resident is called the Beneficiary.

If you are a US Citizen, you are allowed to file the petition for your

  • spouse or unmarried child below 21 years of age.
  • unmarried child above the age of 21 or your married child of any age.
  • Siblings, but you should be at least 21 years old.
  • Parent. Even here you should be at least 21 years old.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) you are allowed to petition for your

  • spouse.
  • unmarried child.

In a given year, if there are more eligible applicants than the number of available visas, the category will be become “oversubscribed”. Visas will be issued in the order they were received until the quota is reached. The priority date is the date the petition was filed. Visas will be issued only when the priority date is reached. For example: if you are filing under a category that has a limitation of 50,000 visas per year, and this year there were 100,000 visa applications under that category, then the first eligible 50,000 applicants will be issued visas and the remaining 50,000 will be put on a waiting list for the next year which simply means years of waiting periods for certain oversubscribed visa categories.

If you wish to bring your immediate relatives into the US, you have to file a petition with the USCIS. You have to be a born or a naturalized US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. By filing the I-130 petition on behalf of your relative, you are requesting the USCIS to acknowledge the relationship and determine in favor of granting the petition.

STEPS INVOLVED

  1. Establish the relationship and the matching visa preference classification.
  2. File form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative.
  3. Have the necessary supporting documents that include proof of your status and proof of beneficiary relationship to you.
  4. Include the filing fee to the I-130 petition.

Remember, you should have two copies of Form G-325A, Biographic Information. You and your spouse will each fill one of the Biographic Information Forms. The form will have information about your parents, place of residence, employers of both husband and wife during the last five years, and previous foreign residences (if any) . You and the beneficiary must sign and date the form before submission.

Form I-864

Form I-864 is generally used as a written obligation from you, the US sponsor to support the alien under the Social Security Act and the Food Stamp Act. You have to read the instructions accompanying form I-864 carefully and ensure that you are aware of the nature of the affirmation that you are making. Take your affirmation on this affidavit seriously.

You need not submit Form I-864 if the intending immigrant can show EITHER that he/she has already worked, or can be credited with, 40 qualifying quarters as defined in title II of the SSA (OR) that he/she is the child of a citizen and that he/she, if admitted for permanent residence on or after February 27, 2001, would automatically acquire citizenship under Section 320 of the INA, as amended by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

USCIS Announces Citizenship and Integration Grant Program Recipients

September 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

USCIS recently announced the award of approximately $5 million in grants that was aimed to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) for citizenship. Through this program, 31 immigrant-serving organizations from 21 states and the District of Columbia will receive federal funding to support preparation of citizenship services for permanent residents for a two year period till September 2014.

Significantly, this is the fourth year USCIS has awarded competitive grant funding to immigrant-serving organizations to support preparing for the citizenship process. The first three years of the program saw a total of $18.3 million awarded through 111 grants to immigrant-serving organizations. Till date, approximately 38,000 permanent residents in 30 states and the District of Columbia have benefited from the program.

USCIS expects another 26,000 permanent residents to receive citizenship preparation services by September 2014. Grant recipients of this year’s program will offer citizenship instruction to prepare permanent residents for the civics and English sections of the naturalization test. They will also offer citizenship application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law. The period of performance for the grants is two years.
Remember that the grant recipients are public or private nonprofit organizations with recent experience in providing citizenship instruction and application services to qualifying persons. Public school systems, public libraries, community and faith-based groups, adult education organizations, and literacy organizations are such organizations. These organizations are geographically diverse and represent both traditional immigrant destinations and new immigrant gateways across 21 states and the District of Columbia. They plan to provide citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to approximately 10,000 permanent residents from 50 countries. Grant recipients represent:

  • Eight of the top ten states in the US with the largest permanent resident populations who are now eligible to apply for citizenship (California, New York, Texas, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington and Virginia)
  • Nine of the top ten states with the largest growth in the terms of permanent residents during the last ten years (California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland)
  • Seventeen of the top twenty states with the largest numbers of naturalizations yearly (California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, Connecticut and Colorado); and
  • Eleven of the top fifteen metropolitan areas with the highest number of new permanent residents during the last ten years (New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Jose and Seattle)

More than 150 eligible applications were reviewed by USCIS. A three-member team composed of internal USCIS reviewers evaluated those proposals. Applications were scored numerically using published evaluation criteria and rank ordered. A second USCIS internal review panel determined the finalists based on the rank order and published strategic program priorities.

Flights Suspended for Illegal Immigrants

September 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

The US government stopped flights home for Mexicans who were caught entering the US illegally, a move that would save a lot of money. The last seven years saw a whopping $100 million taxpayers money going into it. From 2004, more than 125,000 passengers were flown into Mexico for free. There was a mixed response to this move with the Mexican government officials and migrants initially against it, but was gradually accepted as another step to help people get back.

With Border Patrol arrests coming down and proof that more people may be heading south of the border than north coming out, officials found it difficult to fill the planes and found the costs increasingly difficult to substantiate. Flights were cut to once from twice daily last year. This year, there haven’t been any. To keep the flights going, there was a proposal to mix Mexicans who commit crimes while living in the US. This did not go well with the Mexican government who did not like the idea of seating hardened criminals next to families, elderly and the frail who recently crossed the border. Though it is expected the flight operation will resume, it will for sure not be this year.

U.S. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Mexico Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said in February that they proposed to launch a pilot program starting April 1 to fly migrants arrested while living in the US into Mexico. It was because of complaints from Mexican border cities that too many deportees were being dumped on their streets and further contribute to crime and unemployment. It has to be mentioned that the Mexican Interior Repatriation Program flights carried 125,164 passengers at a cost of $90.6 million starting 2004, or an average of $724 each, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The lowest operation was seen in 2009 where the flights ran as few as 38 days and the highest was in 2010 with as many as 120 days in 2010, when a record 23,384 passengers were flown. In the previous year, there were 8,893 passengers flown at a cost of $5 million, at an average of $562 each. The Border Patrol enforcement’s new strategy, introduced in Tucson last year and later extended to the entire border, believes on tougher punishments that were rolled out recently. One calls for jail for up to six months and another one transports migrants to border cities deep to be deported there.

Welcoming Immigrants to the United States

September 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

The United States, more than any other country ever lures the downtrodden, the persecuted, and all those who dream to cash in on the opportunities in the US. America willingly accepts those who come here honestly, having strong work ethics, in search of opportunities of the American Dream. One of the major reasons for the success of American immigration is its deliberate and policy of patriotic assimilation. America welcomes immigrants while stressing the importance of learning and knowing its civic and political culture. While the debates continue regarding the number of immigrants US should accept and procedures through which they should become citizens, there has always been a widespread belief that those who come here should become Americans.

The result of this assimilation policy resulted in strengthening of social capital and the expansion of the US economy. When America was founded, this American theory of citizenship was totally new to the world. All citizens, native/naturalized have the right to civil and religious liberty as a matter of right. Every immigrant is required to conduct themselves as good citizens of the US and be faithful to American constitutional government.

Immigrants add to the moral capital of the US, bringing with them the attributes needed for the effective workings of free government. Immigration by itself brings a diversity of beliefs to the US. Naturalization is the process through which immigrants become citizens voluntarily. The Naturalization process works differently in the US than it does in other countries. A foreigner of any ethnic heritage or racial background can come to the US and become an American. This is possible in the US because of its openness to diverse backgrounds. Through the immigration laws, the people of the US approve immigrants joining them, under certain conditions, as residents, and in many cases, as citizens.

As immigrants lack the natural advantage of having been born and raised in the US, they are required to receive specific education in the history and political ideas of the US. They are welcomed for the many contributions they make and also because they accept the allegiance inherent in US citizenship. The word citizen is associated with membership and participation in one particular political order. So becoming a citizen of the US means having a primary allegiance to America. There is a constitutional responsibility to establish an uniform rule of naturalization to ensure the fairness and integrity of the process by which immigrants enter the US, become permanent residents and gain citizenship.

Coming to the United States Without a Visa

September 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

Through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), nationals of 36 countries can travel to the US for tourism or business (B visa purposes only) and stay for a maximum of 90 days or less without getting a visa that is otherwise required for persons entering the US. The VWP was actually started to remove unnecessary barriers while traveling, to stimulate the tourism industry, and permit the Department of State (DoS) to concentrate its consular resources in other areas.

Persons eligible under the VWP can also apply for a visa, if they want to. It is important to note that persons from VWP countries have to fulfill certain eligibility requirements for them to travel without a visa. So it is not that all the persons from VWP countries can travel through this program. If you are choosing to travel under this program, you should have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before your travel. You will be screened at the port of entry into the US and be enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.

So how does your country qualify under this program? Your country must meet various security and other requirements, which includes enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the US and timely reporting of both blank and issued lost and stolen passports. Your country should also maintain high counter terrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards. Even if your country meets the requirements of the VWP, note that designation as a VWP country is at the discretion of the United States government.

Countries such as Canada, Mexico and Bermuda are not a part of the Visa Waiver Program. According to the Immigration and Nationality Act , there are other provisions for nationals of Canada and Bermuda to travel without a visa under certain circumstances. As these countries do not fall under the Visa Waiver Program, VWP requirements for machine-readable or biometric passports do not apply to them. Remember that some nationals of Canada and Bermuda traveling to the US should have non immigrant visas.

Another feature of this program is that VWP travelers who have been admitted can make a short trip to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island. They can be re enter the US under the VWP for the balance of their original admission period.

Do You Qualify for the 2014 DV Lottery Program?

September 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

The 2014 DV lottery program will be open from 2nd October 2012 to 3rd November 2012. This lottery program is conducted by the US Department of State Kentucky Consular Center through which 50,000 visas are given to people from different regions. To qualify for this program, you have to meet a couple of simple eligibility requirements.

  • You have to be a native of a qualifying country.
  • You should have a minimum high school education or you should have professional working experience of 2 years during the last five years. This also means that applicants below the age of 18 will not qualify.

There are no paper based applications and you have to submit an application online.All applicants are not allowed to submit more than one application during a year. Submitting more than one entry will lead to direct rejection of all our entries. If you are married, make sure to include the name of your spouse, and details of his/her nationality. Also remember to include the same information of your child(ren) below the age of 21. If your spouse or children are US citizens, there is no need to include information about them in the form.

Selection Process

The Kentucky Consular Center is the place where the selection process takes place. Here all the entries will be checked for accuracy and entries that are incomplete will be set aside. Other applications that are error free and complete will be assigned a unique case number, also known as registration number. A computer will shortlist or rather select 50,000 applications randomly. It is selected in such a way that each application has equal chances of getting selected in this lottery program. Each selected application is then assigned a serial number. For example, the first randomly selected entry will be numbered 1; second will be numbered 2, third as 3 and so on.

Applicants will be able to check the results only through the online entry check at the official website using the confirmation number they would have received at the time of filing. Remember that the online check is the only way to check the results. So if you receive any mails or emails stating that you have been selected in the DV lottery program, just ignore it. Those are mails sent to cheat you. Selected candidates will get further instructions and information about fees.

After you get a confirmation of an interview with immigration authorities, you will have at least one month to 6 weeks time. If you are eligible for a visa and all goes well in the interview, you will get a visa to enter the US. Every year, the selected applications in this program is more than the number of visas that will be issued. This is due to the fact that not every selected applicant will be eligible for a visa nor does everyone choose to complete the green card lottery process. The program closes for the year once all 50,000 visas are issued.

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