September 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
Most naturalization applicants are required to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language by reading, writing and speaking. In addition, applicants have to take a civics test. On Oct. 1, 2008, the USCIS re-designed the citizenship questions and switched over to a new set of questions. If you had filed on or after October 1, 2008, you have to take the new test.
Previously, the citizenship test had many questions surrounding basic historical facts of the US. Many of these questions were re-designed and now it just requires more than just a one-word answer for you to prove your knowledge on the subject. Topics in the civics section were expanded and the questions re-designed. The new test was aimed at leading citizenship aspirants to a deeper and better understanding of US history and government.
During the interview, the immigration officer will speak to you in English and will ask you questions related to the citizenship application package you submitted. You have to just prove that you can understand what the interviewer is asking, and answer in simple English. You will be dictated three sentences and you should be able to write at least one sentence correctly and possibly more if the officer is not satisfied with your writing skills. Remember that there are no standard sentences and it is the interviewer’s discretion what to ask and will generally base his/her decision on your level of education and background.
Apart from English, your knowledge in US history and government will be tested. The interviewing officer does not expect you to have in depth knowledge. However, you should demonstrate that you understand the system of the US government, how it works, how and why the United States was founded and about the important events in US history. This test will be oral and the interviewer will ask ten questions from the given bunch of hundred questions. If you can answer at least six out of ten questions correctly, you will be considered to have passed the test.
There are free study materials and public libraries also have the resources/study materials to help you prepare for the test. If you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment where that impairment is affecting your ability to learn English and Civics, you may be exempted from taking the test. You have to file Form N-648 requesting an exception and this form has to be filed along with the citizenship form, N-400. If you qualify for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement, you should be prepared to bring an interpreter with you for the interview.
April 29, 2011 § 1 Comment
Form N-400, the citizenship application asks for information about the applicants criminal record. It is mandatory for applicants to report their entire criminal record to the USCIS. The application might be rejected should any applicant fail to do so. Applicants who are not sure if they are eligible for naturalization because of their criminal record should ensure they consult an immigration attorney who can properly advise
Conviction of murder or any other aggravated felony may make one permanently ineligible to file the application for citizenship immaterial of how long ago the crime was committed. There are few other types of crimes that would result in temporary bars to citizenship. The details of the conviction are very important in making this determination. Quite common one is a DUI incident and that also have to be reported and it also depends in part on how long ago the offense was committed, whether the applicant has ever committed any other crimes, and whether there are any other factors which may lead USCIS to conclude an absence of “good moral character.”
Applicants should always be honest with USCIS about all arrests (even if they were not charged or convicted), convictions (even if their record was cleared or expunged), crimes they committed for which they were not arrested or convicted; and any countervailing evidence, or evidence in their favor concerning the circumstances of the arrests, and/or convictions or offenses that the applicant would want the USCIS to consider.
Even if it was a minor crime, you have to bring it to the notice of the USCIS official, else it may result in the denial of your case. Unless a traffic incident was alcohol or drug related, applicants need not submit documentation for traffic fines and incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine less than $500 and/or points found on the applicant’s driver’s license.
Per immigration laws, applicants should make sure to enter the complete details of any incident that is branded a crime(including the verdict). The USCIS will always do a background check for all applicants with the FBI. So in the best interest of the applicant, it is strongly advised to put down the details transparently. Being transparent in all disclosures will make the naturalization process easier. Simple traffic violations are mostly not considered as crime, but there are some exceptions. To know more about them, one can get in touch with nearest USCIS office or the contact the USCIS at 1-800-375-5283.
April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
If your green card is lost or stolen, ensure that you get it replaced by filing Form I-90, Application for green card replacement with the USCIS.
A permanent resident card (green card) generally valid for ten years has to be renewed on its expiration. You will also not lose your permanent resident status in the US if you do not renew/replace your green card. Permanent resident status does not expire.
Even though your permanent resident status does not expire, per US immigration laws, you should always have proper evidence of your status (a valid, unexpired green card or temporary passport stamp). You will experience difficulties in getting employment, benefits and re-entry into the United States from abroad if you do not replace your lost green card. It is extremely important to apply for your new green card before you travel abroad and have with you on any trip the temporary documentation you received. If you try to re-enter the US with an expired green card, you might experience a delay during the inspection process at the port of entry.
Another important factor is that your employers will not accept an expired green card while verifying employment authorization for new hires. You can use other documents that you will find on Form I-9 (Employment eligibility verification form) such as social security card and driver’s license or carry temporary evidence of status, such as an I-551 stamp. Even the receipt notice that you received for your I-90, Application to replace permanent resident card will be of immense help.
It is also worth mentioning that if you do not get a replacement for the lost green card, you may not be able to file for American citizenship. Having a green card is one of the main eligibility requirements while filing the citizenship application.
The entire replacement process approximately will take three to four months.
April 8, 2011 § 1 Comment
All eligible green card holders applying for American Citizenship have to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS.
You can download N400 form at the government website www(dot)uscis(dot)gov . All the basic forms are free on the USCIS website. There are other private companies who specialize in the preparation and completion of the US Immigration forms and they provide you with services similar to those of an immigration lawyer.
The USCIS filing process at times is long, complicated, and confusing. US immigration laws keep changing constantly. Things that are true today might be wrong tomorrow. By filling out USCIS forms without professional assistance, applicants do face the risk of completing their forms incorrectly. This might lead to higher filing costs of additional forms or even having their application delayed or completely rejected by USCIS. In many cases, the USCIS does not give applicants a second chance to file.
After I Download N400 Form, What Next?
When you download N400 form, you can also download the instructions along with it. The instructions page will have all detailed information about the supporting documents that one needs to send with the application. Additionally, information about the mailing address and the appropriate fee will also be found in the instructions page.
Any application that is not signed or accompanied by the appropriate fee will be rejected with a notice that the Form N-400 is deficient. You may correct the deficiency and submit the application again. Until accepted by USCIS, an application or petition is not considered properly filed.
Once the application has been received, it will be checked for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence. If the applicant does not completely fill out the form, or file it without required initial evidence, he/she will not establish a basis for eligibility and the USCIS may deny your Form N-400. Additionally, the USCIS may request more information or evidence, or may request that you appear at a USCIS office for an interview. They might also request that the applicant submit certain original documents. They will return the originals when they are no longer required.
Finally, the decision on the application involves a determination of whether the applicant has established eligibility for the requested benefit. All applicants will be notified of the decision in writing.
The submission fee for Form N-400 is $595.00. However, all naturalization applicants filing under the military provisions, Section 328 or 329 of the INA need not pay the filing fee.
Apart from the submission fee, a biometric fee of $85.00 is required when filing the Naturalization application. After you submit Form N-400, the USCIS will keep you informed about when and where to go for biometric services. However, applicants above 75 years of age are exempted from biometric services fee.
Applicants may pay through one check or money order for both the application and biometric fees, for a total of $680.00. The check or money order should be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and should be payable in U.S. Currency.
April 7, 2011 § 4 Comments
In simple terms, Citizenship can be defined as the status of being a citizen of a particular social, political, national or human resource community. A citizen is a person with citizenship, being a member of a community such as a country or city.
Citizenship can also be understood as the relationship between an individual and a particular nation. In ancient Greece, the major political entity was the city or state. So citizens were generally members of particular city-states. However, during the last five hundred years, citizenship is most closely identified and related to being a member of a particular country.
Subsequently, the policy was divided between jus sanguinis (right of blood) and jus soli (right of soil) countries. A jus sanguinis or the right of blood policy gives citizenship based on ancestry or ethnicity, and very much related to the concept common in Europe. Whereas a jus soli or right of soil policy confers citizenship to anyone born on the territory of the state, very much similar to the one practiced by many countries such as the United States of America..
Another way is getting married to a person holding the citizenship (jure matrimonii) or through the naturalization process.
“Commonwealth Citizenship” is another concept, and it has been in place ever since the establishment of the Commonwealth of Nations. Only citizens of a Commonwealth member state can hold such type of citizenship and it offers specific rights and privileges within some Commonwealth countries: Then there is “honorary citizenship” that is conferred by certain to those who are considered to be especially admirable or worthy of the distinction.
US Citizenship is the status granted to a legal member of the United States. A US citizen is entitled to special rights, duties, privileges and economic benefits including federal assistance. The United States also has a dual citizenship system where you can be a citizen of the state of residence as well be a US citizen. To qualify for US citizenship, you should be at least 18 years old and a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder). Apart from these, there are other requirements too. Green card holders meeting all the requirements should file Form N-400, the citizenship application with the USCIS.
April 1, 2011 § Leave a comment
The US citizenship test is not a multiple choice test. Applicants’ knowledge in US civics will be tested orally. The USCIS interviewing official will ask ten questions from the available hundred questions. You will be considered to have passed if you are able to answer at least six out of ten questions correctly.
In English, your speaking, reading and writing ability and how well you understand English will be judged. Out of the three sentences, you should read one sentence correctly to prove to the USCIS officials that you understand the meaning of the sentence. Apart from this, you should also write one sentence correctly from the given three. Your ability to speak English will be judged by the way you reply to the questions asked by USCIS officers during the interview. The final result of your test will be based on how you performed in the test.
If I Fail The Immigration Test?
If your application was rejected/denied because you failed in the English or Civics test, you can apply again as soon as you think you have learned enough English or Civics to pass the tests. You will be given a second chance if you fail any of the tests at your interview, and will be retested on the portion of the test that you failed between 60 and 90 days from the date of your original interview. If you fail again, your case will stand denied.
If you think the USCIS made a mistake in rejecting your application, you can request a hearing with an immigration official. The denial letter that USCIS sends to you will have all the details about how to request a hearing. In this case, you have to file Form N-336,”Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings” under Section 336 of the INA with the correct fee within 30 days from the date you received the denial letter.
After the appeal hearing, if you still feel your case was wrongly denied, you can file a petition for a new review of your citizenship application in a US district court.
March 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
A United States permanent resident card (green card) is normally valid for ten years. On its expiry, you have to get it renewed by filing Form I-90, Application for green card replacement with the USCIS. Though those not renewing expired green cards will not be penalized, always ensure that you renew your card at the earliest. Form I-90 should also be filed if you want to change any biographic information on your green card i.e if your name has changed because of marriage. Form I-90 is also used when you lose your green card and need a replacement. However, you will not lose your permanent resident status if you do not renew your green card as permanent resident status does not expire.
Per US laws, you have to carry evidence of your current status (a valid, unexpired green card or temporary passport stamp). When you do not renew your expired or expiring card, you may find it difficult obtaining employment, getting other benefits and also while re-entering the US from abroad. If you are traveling , always apply for your new green card before you travel and have with you the temporary documentation you received. If you try re-entering the US with an expired green card, you might experience delay during the inspections process at the port of entry,
Your employers will also not accept an expired green card to verify employment authorization for new hires. You can use other documents that you will find on the Form I-9 (Employment eligibility verification form) such as social security card and driver’s license or have a temporary evidence of status (I-551 stamp) or even the receipt notice for your Form I-90, Application to replace permanent resident card.
After you have sent the completed I-90 application to the USCIS, you will receive an Application Receipt Notice with an application receipt number within 30 days of having sent your application. This notice is a proof that the USCIS received your application. You can monitor the progress of your application with this receipt number. You also will be informed about the dates for fingerprinting and subsequently, the date for your interview with instructions related to the supporting documents you are supposed to bring. On the whole, the green card renewal process approximately takes three months.
The advantage of having a valid green card is that, if eligible you can file the citizenship application, Form N-400 and enjoy the rights of a US citizen.