One of the biggest obstacles for undocumented immigrants seeking permanent residency is the fact that they entered the US illegally. The unlawful entry often prohibits them from getting a green card even if they have a family member who could sponsor them. However, there are some very unique exceptions. One of those involves Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
You’re finally ready to take the last big step and become a US citizen. The application for naturalization seems straightforward and you haven’t had any previous immigration problems; so you decide to take care of this yourself. That could be a big mistake.
When an application for citizenship is received, USCIS doesn’t just do a simple check and move on. It reviews the applicant’s entire file. The information already in the file has to match the naturalization paperwork exactly. USCIS will also run a criminal background check for arrests, citations, and detentions. Unfortunately, when applicants handle the application on their own, they can make errors or fail to disclose pertinent information. Here are a few of the most common problems people have when they’re applying for citizenship:
- Dates and locations of residences. Applicants must disclose where and when they resided in the last 5 years. Dates and addresses must be correct (no typos) and must match what is in the existing file. It’s not unusual for mistakes to appear especially when immigrants have moved several times. I’ve seen this most often when immigrants come to the US on an employment-based visa and then have to move frequently for work-related reasons.
- Dates and locations of employment. Again this information has to be accurate and match immigration files. Every job must be reported.
- Time outside the US. Applicants must report all trips of over 24 hours taken outside the US for the last 5 years. The exact dates of departure and return to the US, countries visited, and total days outside the US must be documented. This might seem straightforward, but it’s easy to make mistakes with dates. It can also be surprisingly complicated calculating total days spent outside the US and frequently immigrants don’t do that correctly.
- Criminal activity. The citizenship paperwork requires disclosure of any incidents where an applicant was arrested, cited, detained or convicted of a crime or an offense. This is broader than many immigrants realize. Recently, I had two clients who came to me after their applications were denied and they were threatened with losing their green cards. In one case, the client failed to disclose that he had been stopped and questioned by immigration officials a few years ago. He didn’t realize that was considered a detention and needed to be disclosed on the form. In the other case, the client had received a citation for driving without a license. That also needed to be included on the form.
The citizenship paperwork shouldn’t be treated as a simple matter. Immigrants can request to see their USCIS file by making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request before they apply for citizenship. This way they can minimize the risk of problems with their application. However, the best course of action is to go to an attorney. Particularly if you’ve been working with an attorney who has copies of all your paperwork. It’s a simple matter for an attorney to handle the naturalization application. You’ve been on a long road to get to this point: actually applying for citizenship. Don’t take this final and most important step by yourself.
For help with handling your application for naturalization, contact us.
For those waiting to file for an I-495 adjustment of status and get a green card, newly revised procedures will provide much needed information for determining visa availability. The new rules implement the White House’s initiatives to modernize and streamline the immigration process.
The I-495 adjustment of status process allows eligible individuals already in the United States to get permanent resident status without having to return to their home country to complete visa processing. However, applicants waiting to file for employment-based or family-sponsored preference adjustment of status must wait until a visa is available in their category. Applicants must regularly check Visa Availability & Priority Dates to see if a visa is available. Under the old procedures, there was a great deal of uncertainty in estimating when a visa might become available. The revised method is a significant improvement.
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced his decision to designate Yemen for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months due to the ongoing armed conflict within the country. Yemen is experiencing widespread conflict and a resulting severe humanitarian emergency, and requiring Yemeni nationals in the United States to return to Yemen would pose a serious threat to their personal safety. As a result of Yemen’s designation for TPS, eligible nationals of Yemen residing in the United States may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Federal Register notice posted today provides details and procedures for applying for TPS. [Read more…]