One year after granted asylum status, you will be allowed to adjust your status to legal permanent residence (green card). You are also allowed to submit petitions to petition for your family members – spouse, minor children, and unmarried adult sons and daughters for permanent residence in the US.
As an asylee, to apply for adjustment of status, you have to prove that
- you have been physically present in the US for one year after getting asylum status
- you still are a refugee (with a “well-founded fear of persecution,” etc.)
- you have not resettled in another country
- you do not fall under the “inadmissible” category or warrant a waiver of applicable grounds of “inadmissibility.”
It is mandatory you submit the following documents:
- Form I-485 along with the submission fee
- Form G-325
- 2 passport styled photographs
- Fee for fingerprinting
- Adequate proof of asylee status (copy of I-94 and letter granting asylum or decision by Immigration Judge)
- Birth certificate
- Evidence that you have been living in the US for the last year (copy of lease, bills, pay stubs, or receipt of government benefits)
- Proof of change of name legally (if you have legally changed your name since getting asylee status.
Asylees need not prove that they are not likely to become a public charge in the US. Persons receiving means-tested benefits (public assistance or SSI), will also qualify for legal permanent residence. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you can request a waiver of the filing fee for the adjustment of status application. Here you should prove that paying the fee would result in financial hardship.
After you file the application, you can expect to receive an interview notice along with a medical examination form that you will need to complete. In situations where you happened to enter the US with fraudulent documents (passport purchased on black market), it is mandatory you file an application for a waiver of inadmissibility (Form I-602). Though it is mandatory you submit the application with the necessary supporting documents with the USCIS, the interview will entirely focus on your eligibility for adjustment to green card status and not on the underlying asylum claim. Remember that not all asylee applicants filing for adjustment of status will have interviews. In some occasions, decisions on some applications are adjudicated simply on paper by mail.
After being a legal permanent resident for five years, you can file the application for naturalization (Form N-400) to become a US citizen. Note that after you, as an asylee are granted permanent residence, the date of admission is one year before the date of approval of the adjustment of status petition. It simply means that the five-year period required for Naturalization is reduced to four years. Remember that US Citizenship is the highest US immigration status and it has many advantages when compared to being in another legal status. The main advantage is the right to vote in federal elections.
Being a person of good moral character is one of the key requirements when it comes to applying for naturalization. You will not be considered to be of “good moral character” if you happen to commit certain crimes during the five years before you file the citizenship application or even if you lie during their citizenship interview.
General behaviors that show a lack of good moral character are:
• Drunk driving or being drunk most of the time.
• Illegal gambling.
• Lying 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.
You will never qualify for citizenship if you commit certain specific crimes. In such case, you will also be most likely removed from the US. These crimes are referred as “bars” to citizenship. Crimes those are “aggravated felonies” (if they were committed on or after November 29, 1990) are murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, violent assault, treason, and illegal trafficking in drugs, firearms, or people. These will result in permanent bars to naturalization.
Also note that immigrants who were exempted or discharged from serving in the US Armed Forces as they were immigrants and immigrants who deserted from the US Armed Forces are also subject to permanently bar. Your case will be rejected if you act in other ways that show you lack good moral character. There are other crimes that are temporary bars and it generally prevent you from becoming a citizen for up to five years after you commit that crime.
It is very important that you report any crime you committed when you apply for naturalization. You are also required to disclose all the crimes removed from your record or committed before your 18th birthday. If you try to hide it from the USCIS, your application will be rejected you can also be prosecuted. So remember to be transparent in all your disclosures.
There are many licensed and competent immigration lawyers who can help you with an immigration issue. Contact the local bar association to find one. There are some states that also certify specialists in US immigration law. If you need legal help on an immigration issue, but do not afford the fee to hire a lawyer, you do have a few low cost or free assistance options. Help is available from:
A Recognized Organization: is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). To qualify under this classification, the organization should have enough knowledge and experience to provide services to immigrants. They are entitled to accept a nominal fee for those services.
An Accredited Representative: are connected to BIA “recognized organizations.” These representatives too are entitled to charge a very nominal fee for the services they provide.
- A Qualified Representative: provide free services. They have to know about US immigration law and the rules of practice in court. Examples of qualified representatives are law school students and graduates. People with good moral character who have a personal or professional affiliation with you also are eligible.
- Free Legal Service Providers: There are many attorneys and organizations willing to help foreign nationals in proceedings before the Immigration Courts. The attorneys and organizations help immigrants free of charge only in immigration proceedings. Some of them may not be able to help you with non-court-related matters (visa petitions, naturalization, etc.).
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.
If you are applying for Naturalization and have a physical or mental impairment that makes it difficult for you to complete the citizenship process, the USCIS will make accommodations or certain modifications under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 1973. The USCIS will make accommodations for such applicants with disabilities for whom the process needs certain modifications in order to demonstrate their eligibility.
Waivers for Citizenship Applicants
If you are using a wheelchair, the USCIS will make sure that you are fingerprinted, interviewed, and sworn in at a location that is accessible to a wheelchair. If you are hearing impaired, the USCIS officer interviewing you will speak loudly and slowly, or will co-ordinate with you in arranging for a sign language interpreter. If you require a sign language interpreter during the oath ceremony, you should mention it in the N-400 citizenship application in the section where you are asked if you need an accommodation for a disability. If you are using a service animal (guide dog), you can bring your dog along with you to the interview and oath ceremony.
The USCIS takes utmost care to make sure the naturalization process is easier for citizenship applicants with disabilities. If you need some kind of accommodation, you have to write a letter explaining your requirements and send it to the USCIS district office that will interview you after you receive your interview notice. If you have a physical or mental impairment because of which you cannot learn or demonstrate the required knowledge of English and civics, you can apply for an exemption to the tests. To request an exemption, you are required to file a “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions” (Form N-648). If you are eligible, get in touch with a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist and he/she has to complete and sign your N-648 form.
If you are eligible for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement, you have to bring an interpreter along with you. To qualify for a disability exception, your disability has to be at least one year old (or be expected to last one year) and not caused by illegal drug use.
The USCIS needs enough advance notice to respond to accommodation requests. You have to state you need in the place provided in the naturalization application. Even if you are eligible for an exception to the English and civics requirement, you still have to take the Oath of Allegiance to the US. If you are not able or cannot establish an understanding of the meaning of the Oath because of your physical or mental disability, the USCIS may excuse you from this requirement.
While taking the Oath, you must promise to renounce all foreign allegiances while becoming a US Citizen and promise to support and defend the principles of the Constitution and the laws of the US. As and when required, you must be willing to fight in the US Armed Forces, perform noncombatant service in the US Armed Forces, and perform civilian service for the US.
The lawful status of persons immigrating to the US varies according to the category through which they entered the US. You can use the non-immigrant visa if your stay in the US is temporary and you can come through an immigrant visa if your intention is for a permanent stay.
All immigrants have two options – become permanent residents (Green Card holders) or become citizens. Though both these statuses give you the right to live and work legally in the United States, certain advantages are conferred only to the US citizens. But if you want to apply for citizenship, you have to be a green card holder. In addition to this, there are other requirements you need to satisfy, should you want to apply for citizenship.
As far as green card is concerned, there are many ways to get one. One is through marriage. Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) has to be filed by a US citizen or US lawful permanent resident (LPR) to establish the relation to his/her relatives who want to come to the US. If you are a US citizen and your spouse is already in the US, your spouse can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status with the USCIS at the same time as you file the petition for Alien Relative.
Another way to get a green card is through the Diversity Visa lottery program that is conducted annually. You can also get one through employment. Immigrants under the Refugee or Asylee status can also apply for a green card.
If you become a US citizen, you have the right to hold federal jobs and the right to vote. You are free to travel wherever and for however long you want to. You will be protected even when you are traveling overseas. The State Department will make sure you travel home safely and will assist you through the US consulates abroad. Your spouse, children and other children you adopt can also become US citizens through your status. Though you will be required to file certain applications to document their status, the process will be less difficult.
The Citizenship Application Process:
Once you satisfy all the eligibility requirements that is needed to apply for citizenship, you can file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the USCIS. You will have to mail the completed US citizenship application along with your photographs, fees and supporting documents to the USCIS address mentioned in the instructions that come along with the citizenship form.
Once the USCIS receives your form, they will send you an appointment letter for fingerprinting. After your fingerprints are taken, you will have to wait for a letter of appointment from the USCIS for your interview. They will send a letter (Notice of Action) that will have the date, time and location of the interview.
Your knowledge of basic English Language and history of the US government (which is another requirement in the citizenship process) will be tested. If you prove your ability in the tests, you will be called to take the Oath and indeed, receive your Certificate of Naturalization. If you do not attend the Oath Ceremony, you should return the Form N-445, ‘Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony’ to the designated local Application Service Center (ASC). You should also attach a letter that would explain why you were not able to make it to the original ceremony. Then the USCIS will reschedule the date for your Oath Ceremony and will send new Form N-445 (Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony) that would have details of the ceremony.
The law requires naturalization applicants to demonstrate proficiency of U.S. civics and the English language. Individuals with certain disabilities or impairments may request exceptions from either or both of these statutory requirements. Form N-648 was revised following extensive dialogue among USCIS subject-matter experts, customers, medical professionals, community-based organizations and legal practitioners.
The form revisions are intended to clarify the Waiver requirements and instructions and to standardize the process for applicants, medical professionals and USCIS officers.
USCIS will accept the previous version of the Form N-648 for 90 days, from Dec. 22, 2010 until March 21, 2011. Beginning March 22, 2011, USCIS will only accept the current version of Form N-648, dated 9/24/2010.
Permanent residents have the authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. United States allows US citizens and permanent residents to help their immediate relatives to immigrate to United States on a permanent basis. Family based immigration is an immigrant visa classification which allows a foreign individual to become a permanent resident through a family member in the United States who is either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may then petition for your immediate relatives for a green card. Obtaining a Green Card for your family is a two step process. The first step is filing the Family Immigration Petition. This is filed to establish a qualifying relationship between yourself and your immediate relative. The second step involves applying for a green card. If the family member is inside the United States, then the applicant may qualify to adjust status to permanent resident without returning to their home country. Or if the family member is outside the United States, then the applicant must file the petition at the United States consulate or through an US Embassy that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence.
Green Card for Your Father:
Although the immigration law has given the privilege to both US citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for their family members, only US citizens are allowed to petition for their parents. If you are looking out to obtain green card for your father, then you need to satisfy the following requirements.
1. To be eligible to petition for your father:
- you must be a US citizen
- you must be at least 21 years of age.
2. Your father must fall into one of these categories.
- Must be your natural father
- if step father, then he must have married your mother before you turned 18
- if adopted father, then you must have been adopted before you turned 16.
3. You must then file Form I 130 to petition your father. This form is used to request an immigrant visa for your father. You need to file your petition with USCIS along with supporting documents such as naturalization certificate or a US. passport. Submit your petition to the appropriate USCIS address.
4. When you send your petition to USCIS you must ensure you include the required supporting documents. The list of the supporting documents is given below.
- Birth Certificate showing he is your natural father
- Provide name change proof if your father has changed his name
- Natural parent’s marriage certificate. (If stepfather, provide marriage certificate to your biological mother)
- If you were adopted, then adoption decree before you turned 16 and a statement which mentions the places and time you lived with your adoptive parents
5. Once the I 130 petition to obtain a green card for your father has been approved, your father can apply for a green card. If your father is outside US he has to apply at a US consulate. If he is inside US, he should apply for adjustment of states with USCIS.
Are you a US citizen wishing to have a lasting marriage and staying with your spouse for the rest of your life? It can be possible if you get the US citizenship for your foreign spouse. The phenomenon of foreign marriage is growing these days as is the desire to share their dreams, values and a lifetime with their soul mates. If you have found a foreign spouse and want to bring him/her to the US and live with her/him it is recommended to get the US citizenship for the spouse.
Ways of getting US citizenship:
Us citizenship is obtained either by birth or through naturalization. To get citizenship for your spouse the only possible way is through naturalization. For your spouse to apply for citizenship he/she must be at least 18 years of age, should have been married to you, the US citizen, and lived in the US for a period of 3 years without disrupting the stay in the US, all this while having a green card. Initially, you could sponsor your spouse for a green card through marriage process and once your spouse meets the requirements he/she will be able to apply for US citizenship.
Documents to be submitted:
While applying for citizenship based on the marriage to the US citizen, it becomes necessary to submit the following documents,
- Form N 400 which is completed
- Copy of the Permanent Resident Card (Back and front)
- Two color photos with the applicant’s name and A number the back of the each photo.
- Evidence to prove that your spouse is a US citizen. The proof can be a birth certificate, citizenship certificate, passport etc
- Your current marriage certificate
- Proof of termination of other previous marriages if any
- Documents to prove that you and your spouse have a good marriage and live together – proof in the form of tax returns, bank accounts, birth certificate of children, etc.
Once your application is complete and is mailed to the USCIS with the required documents, on approval you will be called for the fingerprinting and interview by the USICS. Honest and truthful answers will be favorable with regard to your application. You will be tested for your knowledge in English and your knowledge on the history of the US as well. Based on the interview you will be granted the US citizenship after taking the oath of allegiance . There can be cases when the citizenship will be denied; in such cases an appeal can be made to reconsider the case, but the whole process has to be started from scratch. The oath of allegiance is the final part of the citizenship process which will be conducted as a ceremony notified by the USCIS. This is when you will be receiving the certificate of naturalization and there on you become a US citizen.
The US citizenship rights and benefits that your spouse obtains are numerous. He/she will have the right to vote, apply for a passport, apply for federal jobs, receive social benefits, etc.. Acquiring US citizenship will secure your spouse from anti immigrant laws; not only this, but your spouse can inherit the rights to sponsor relatives and family members to immigrate to US. To have a peaceful and happy life, the ultimate goal for your spouse will be to obtain the US citizenship and enjoy its many benefits.
An immigrant can become a US citizen either by birth or through Naturalization. Naturalization is generally referred to as the procedure through which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. Citizen. Immigrants who wish to get US citizenship should file Form N 400, Application for Naturalization.
Who Can File N-400 Form for Citizenship?
You need to meet certain eligibility requirements before filing Form N 400. You should be 18 years or older and a permanent resident (Green Card holder) now and during all of the past 5 years.
You must reside in the United States for a continuous period before filing the naturalization application. If you are not married to an American citizen, you should reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years after admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you must reside in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years following admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
A prolonged absence from the U.S. will break the continuity of your residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes. However, it may not affect your ability to return to the U.S. as a permanent resident. An absence from the U.S. of less than six months does not break your continuity of residence in the U.S. for naturalization purposes. However, if you are absent from the U.S. for a period of six months or more it breaks the continuity of your residence. If the break is between six months and one year, the break can be excused if a reasonable explanation can be given for your absence (e.g. overseas employment). If the break is for over a year, the continuity of your residence can be preserved and the break excused, if steps are taken prior to your trip abroad to preserve the residence and if you meet certain qualifications. Buy DVD on Naturalization test and interview.
Additionally, you should have met your physical presence requirements too. It means that you have actually been in the United States. Mostly, you must be physically present in the United States for a certain number of months to be eligible for naturalization. Prior to applying, you should have resided in your current state for at least 3 months. It is the state where you are submitting the application for naturalization.
Most importantly, you should not have broken any immigration law and you should not have been ordered to leave the United States. You should also prove at least 5 years of good moral character. In order to file Form N 400, you should take an English language test and a Civics test. Generally, form N 400 applicants must establish to the satisfaction of the interviewing officer that they are able to read, write and speak basic English and that they have basic knowledge of US history and government. If you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, where it affects your ability to learn English and Civics, you can be exempted. And finally you should be prepared to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.