The DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) was a proposal enacted by the US legislation on August 1, 2001. It was re-introduced in the US Senate on May 11, 2011. Through this enactment, illegals and foreign national students who graduate from US high schools having good moral character, but are deportable can get conditional residency. To qualify, they should have entered the US legally or illegally as minors. In addition, they should have been in the US continuously for a period of at least five years before the bill was enacted.
The DREAM Act can turn to a win-win situation. It would give legal status to illegal students, who can contribute to the US and on the other hand, the US can use the students’ education and talents. If you (the student) contribute two years in the US military or two years at a four year institution of higher learning, you will qualify for six years of temporary residence. Within this six year period, you are required to get a degree from an institution of higher education in the US or completed at least two years in a program for a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in the US OR served in the armed services for at least 2 years. If you served in the armed services and discharged, it should have been an honorable discharge.
If your permanent resident status is terminated, you will return to the immigration status you were immediately before you got conditional permanent resident status under the DREAM Act. Per the 2009 version of the senate bill, you should submit evidence of having arrived in the US before reaching 16 years of age. You should possess residence proof in the US for at least five years since you arrived. In addition, you should have registered with the Selective Service (if male) and be between 12 and 30 years old at the time the DREAM Act was enacted. Apart from the said requirements, you should have graduated from an US high school, got a GED, or admitted to an institution of higher education. Not to forget having a good moral character.
If the DREAM Act is passed and you meet all the requirements mentioned above, you have to apply for the DREAM Act. There are no clear guidelines on how to apply as the bill is not passed as yet. After it is approved and you are given conditional residency, you are required to enroll in an institution of higher education to get a bachelor’s degree or higher degree OR enlist in one of the branches of the US Military. Before completing six years of approval for conditional residency, you should have completed at least two years of one of the points mentioned in the previous sentence. After you complete five and a half years of the six year period, you are eligible to apply for Legal Permanent Residence. You then subsequently qualify for American Citizenship five years after being a legal permanent resident.
If you have already completed at least two years of college education towards a bachelor’s degree or higher degree, you still are required to wait the five and half years to qualify for Legal Permanent Residency though you might already got a degree.
As part of the Naturalization process, it is mandatory that all applicants attend an interview. If you cannot attend the interview on the scheduled date, you can write to the USCIS office where your interview is to be held at the earliest and request to re- schedule your interview.
Though you are allowed to re-schedule the interview, remember that it will further lengthen the naturalization process, leading to an unnecessary delay in getting your certificate. So in your best interests, try not to change the original interview date. But if you don’t attend the interview and fail to inform the USCIS, they will “administratively close” your case. Another fact is that if you do not contact them to schedule a new interview within one year after they close your case, they will reject your citizenship application.
Make sure USCIS has your most current address; else you may not receive any notification from them. If you do not keep them informed, they will not able to notify you about the date and time of your naturalization interview or about additional supporting documents you have to send or bring for the interview.
If you move to a another address after filing your application, it is mandatory that you call the USCIS at their toll free telephone number 1-800-375-5283 to bring to their notice about the change in your address on your pending application. You are required to inform the USCIS of the new address each and every time you shift to a new place. Calling the customer service alone will not suffice. You should file Form AR-11, “Alien’s Change of Address Card”. It is important to note that you should file this Form within ten days after having moved and you need not pay and fee while filing this form. Another aspect is to keep the U.S. Postal Service aware of your new address so any mail to you can be forwarded to your new address.
You will reach the highest immigration status in the US by becoming an US citizen as soon as you take the Oath of Allegiance to the US in a naturalization ceremony. You can either take the Oath the same day as your interview or have the ceremony at a later date. The USCIS will notify you of the ceremony date through Form N445, “Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony”. If you cannot attend the oath ceremony as scheduled, you should return the Form N-445 to the local USCIS office. Attach a letter stating why you cannot attend the ceremony. Make copies of the notice and your letter before you mail it to USCIS. Once the USCIS receive your letter, they will reschedule the date and send you a new Form N-445 that will have the re-scheduled date.
The hard truth is that not all applications will be approved. If your request is rejected and you feel that USCIS was wrong in rejecting your case, you can request a hearing with an immigration officer. USCIS will send a letter that will have the details as how to request a hearing and will also have the form you need. Form N-336, Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings under Section 336 of the INA” is used to file an appeal. You should file this form, along with the appropriate fee to USCIS within 30 days of having received the denial letter.