Interesting facts about USCIS which deals with INS forms

One of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) components is United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). As a part of the Department of Justice, formerly carried out by United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), USCIS performs many administrative functions. Promoting national security, to eliminate immigration case backlogs and to improve customer services are the avowed priorities of the USCIS. USCIS is headed by a director who reports directly to the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security.

Previously it was named shortly as U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), then became USCIS. Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as USCIS Director on August 12, 2009 after he was nominated by President Obama on April 24 and unanimously confirmed on August 7 by the U.S. Senate.

Functions and History of USCIS

Processing immigrant visa petitions, asylum and refugee applications, naturalization petitions, as well as making adjudicative decisions performed at the service centers come under the in-charge of USCIS. In short managing all other immigration benefit functions but not immigration enforcement which was performed by the former INS.

Following are other responsibilities:

•           Immigration services and benefits administration

•           Asylum claims adjudicating

•           Employment authorization documents (EAD) issue

•           Petitions for non-immigrant temporary workers like H-1B, O-1 etc.)

•           Lawful permanent resident status granting

•           United States citizenship granting

The jurisdiction of the Department of Justice includes the Executive Office for Immigration Review which includes the Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals, and which reviews decisions made by USCIS. The bureau consists of around 15,000 federal government employees and contractors who work in 250 local and field offices in the U.S. and all around the world.

Similar functions as under INS are performed but applications are processed efficiently and effectively. Reducing the applicant backlog and providing customer service through different channels, including the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) with information in English and Spanish, Application Support Centers (ASCs), the Internet and other channels are part of improving efforts of USCIS.

After the scandals especially that arose after September 11, 2001 the INS was broadly seen as ineffective. So on November 25, 2002, President Georg W Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law. Thus law transferred the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) functions to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

As a result the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took care of immigration enforcement functions while the immigration service functions were placed into the separate USCIS. The INS ceased to exist on March 1, 2003 and services provided by that organization transitioned into USCIS.

USCIS is funded almost entirely by INS forms user fees unlike most other federal agencies. Direct congressional appropriations made about 1% of the USCIS budget and about 99% of the budget was funded through fees under President George W Bush’s FY2008 budget request.

USCIS Immigration Forms

All forms and processing materials related to immigration and naturalization are dealt with by USCIS. Two kinds of forms, those relating to immigration and those related to naturalization are handled by them. A specific name and an alphanumeric sequence consisting of one letter, followed by two or three digits are designated to forms. Forms related to immigration are designated with an ‘I’ (for example, I-551 Permanent Resident Card) and forms related to naturalization are designated by an ‘N’ (for example, N-400, Application for Naturalization).

Online appointment scheduling service known as INFOPASS is run by USCIS. People with questions about immigration come into their local office and speak directly with a government employee about their case and so on under this system. This is an important way in which USCIS serves the public.

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Cleared test after applying for US citizenship!

Cleared test after applying for US citizenship!

The 36 year old French actor Gilles Marini would be US citizen after the oath ceremony later this year!An achievement he and US would be proud of. Truly dream come true for the actor.

Electronic and userfriendly Immigration system!

Electronic and userfriendly Immigration system!

US citizenship and immigration services accept online applications.To streamline the application process for immigration benefit seekers and their legal representatives. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services created a user-friendly system .

The USCIS recently launched the electronic immigration system (ELIS). It will also allow the agency to smooth the transition to electronic filing over time and retain a paper filing option for customers.

Overview on USCIS Affidavit of support form

You must accept legal responsibility of the financial requirements of the family member you bring into the US to live permanently with you.  By completing and signing a document, namely the Form I-864, called the affidavit of support you accept this responsibility and become the relative’s sponsor. Until that relative becomes a US citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work this legally enforced responsibility lasts on you.

Affidavit of Support for whom?

If you are bringing a relative to the US this USCIS Form I-864, the affidavit of support must be completed and submitted by you. Filing the Petition for Alien Relative, an USCIS Form I-130 or Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative, the USCIS Form I-600 is part of the process completion.

For all immediate relatives of US citizens who include parents, spouses and unmarried children under age 21, including orphans this affidavit of support is required.  Under any one of the following family-based preferences the relative needs to qualify for immigration to the United States:

  • First Preference: Adult meaning 21 years or older sons and daughters who are unmarried.
  • Second Preference: The lawful permanent resident’s spouses and sons and daughters who are unmarried, regardless of age and their children who are not married.
  • Third Preference: The US citizen’s married sons and daughters, their spouses and their minor children who are not married.
  • Fourth Preference: Adult US citizen’s brothers and sisters, their spouses and their minor children who are not married.

For a relative you must complete a Form I-864 if you are a US citizen or lawful permanent resident and filed an employment-based immigration petition namely USCIS Form I-140. The affidavit of support needs to be completed if you have a significant ownership interest say 5% or more in a business your relative works for and which filed an employment-based immigrant petition.

Self-petitioning widows or widowers or battered spouses and children after USCIS approval do not require this. Instead Form I-360, the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant needs to be filed. Affidavit of support is not required for relatives who entered as refugees or asylees also.

A original affidavit of support and accompanying documents are required for all relatives for whom you file a separate I-130 or I-140 petition. For any spouse or children immigrating along with your relative and listed on the petition you may submit photocopies of the completed affidavit of support. In the case of these family members photocopy of the accompanying documentation is not required. For parolees, students and diversity immigrants type of aliens the Form I-864 is not used for sponsoring. If an immigration or consular officer insists a different affidavit of support Form I-134 is used. The Department of State does charge a fee when the Affidavit of Support is reviewed domestically, although USCIS does not charge a fee for this form.

In title II of the Social Security Act there is no need to submit a Form I-864 if the immigrant can show either that he/she has already worked, or can be credited with, 40 qualifying quarters as defined. As amended by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the immigrant is the child of a citizen and that the immigrant, if admitted for permanent residence on or after February 27, 2001, would automatically acquire citizenship under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and needn’t Apply for US citizenship.

Certificate of Citizenship Of Naturalization Replacement

Applicants who need a replacement for citizenship certificate or naturalization certificate can use Form N-565 which can be filed online or through mail. It’s important to use the most recent form version when filing Form N-565 and after completion should be sent to correct USCIS office which is generally the local office with jurisdiction over a specific geographic area.

Why to apply?

Application can also be used to get a replacement for Declaration of Intention, Repatriation Certificate and also to apply for a special naturalization certificate as a U.S. citizen to be recognized by a foreign country.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or some courts before October 1991 used to issue a certificate of naturalization as proof to one who has successfully completing naturalization process.  As proof that a person is a citizen by birth when born to US citizens outside US a certificate of Citizenship is issued by the USCIS. Some individuals who have parents who became US citizens before an applicant was 18 years of age are also issued certificates of citizenship.

To prove your citizenship both the certificate of naturalization and the certificate of citizenship are important documents. To apply for a passport or if you decide to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the US these certificates are needed. It is important to file application at once in order to replace the documentation if your certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship is stolen, lost, or damaged.

When to file Form N-565?

By filing Form N-565 you can apply for Certificate of Citizenship Of Naturalization Replacementif you have damaged, lost or either of them were stolen. In case the information on either of the certificates is inaccurate also you can file Form N-565. In case of a name change after marriage or divorce new certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship will be issued once you file Form N565. Also to apply for a special naturalization certificate as a U.S. citizen to be recognized by a foreign country you need to file Form N-565.

Instructions to be followed

  • Two identical colored photos taken within the last 30 days should be submitted. They should be passport styled photos taken in a white background.
  • You must write your name and your Alien Registration Number very lightly in pencil on the back of each photo before sending these photos to the USCIS with your Form N-565.
  • The form should be completed correctly, signed and submitted with the correct fees current filing fee is $345.
  • You need to include the damaged certificate with your application if your original certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship was destroyed or damaged.
  • USCIS will delay processing or reject the petition if there are mistakes in the application process.
  • You may need to return to the United States to get your new certificate of naturalization or certificate of citizenship if you are filing Form N565 outside of the US
  • For change of name after marriage you need to apply for new certificate. You must submit the original document from USCIS and the marriage certificate or court order showing name change along with the application.

Where to file?

According to the jurisdiction your residence comes under, you need to file at one of following addresses:

1. USCIS

Texas Service Center

PO box 851182 Mesquite,

TX 75185-1182

2. USCIS

Nebraska Service Center

PO box 87565 Lincoln,

NE 68501-7565

Current filing fee should be paid by check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Applicants living in Guam or Virgin Islands should contact closest U.S. consulate or embassy on filing and payment instructions. If fingerprints are required biometrics fee also should be paid. Once the application is checked for completeness it will be approved and document will be issued.

 

After applying for US citizenship six years ago, Johan Limonta has become an American!

After applying for US citizenship six years ago, Johan Limonta has become an American!

Journey from being Johan to becoming so called “John”……….not an easy joke to go from Cuba to US and also becoming a US citizen for this baseball player, Rainiers outfielder!

Get to know the US Passport Renewal Process

An international travel document which is used to verify the identity and also nationality of the holder is a passport. The Department of State in the US is the only authority which deals with issue and verification of a passport. To enter and leave most of the foreign countries a valid US passport is required. Its validity is for 10 years if it’s issued when you are 16 and above years of age. If you are 15 or below years of age then passport issued is valid for 5 years.

Adult passport holders may renew their 10-year U.S. passports, got after you Apply for US citizenship in person or by mail.  We reserve the right to request an interview with respect to any passport application. If choosing to apply in person, appointments are required.

When and how to renew?

If already you have a undamaged US passport which was issued within past 15 years when you were 16 years and above of age with the same name or want to legalize your new name that’s when you need to go for US passport renewal. This can be done by mail.

US Passport renewal can be done at the closest consulate or embassy in case the US citizen is residing abroad. You need to mail a renewal application viz., DS-82 to the address on the form if you are in Canada with a pay check in US currency.

You need to apply in person in case passport is damaged or disfigured. Also if you are financially supporting your child get a passport you must apply in person.

US passport renewal by mail

Application for passport by mail Form DS-82 needs to be completed along with sign and date.

Documents to be sent along include:

  • Passport style two identical 2×2 photographs.
  • Most recent passport
  • Check or money order for $67 payable to US department of state as fee
  • In case of a name change a certified legal document like a divorce decree, marriage certificate, adoption decree, court order must be included.
  • Prepaid overnight return envelope.

Photographs for a US passport renewal application should be taken with a high-resolution in either the conventional or digital printing method without dot patterns. The focus should be on entire face and in the photo facial features should be clear and captured from just above the hair top to the middle of chest with eyes looking at the camera and open. Height of head should measure 1inch to 13/8 inches. From the bottom of the photo eye level should be between 11⁄8 inch to 13⁄8 inch (28 mm and 35 mm). Plain white or off white background should be used. Head gears and prescription glasses normally used by you should be worn for the picture. Natural skin tone should be reproduced in photos, could be black and white or color and printed on thin paper.

Documents and application for US passport renewal all put together in a padded envelope should be mailed to:

National Passport Processing

Attn: Department 13349

1617 Brett Road

New Castle, DE 19720

Within a fortnight you can receive new passport. Most of the foreign countries insist for a validity date of the passport to be at least six months beyond your trip.

 

Looking for Help to Apply for US Citizenship?

The status that individuals obtain, which allows them certain rights, privileges and benefits and entails certain duties, is what citizenship in the United States means. It works as a legal marker for the right to live and work in the United States and to receive federal assistance and government services.

Why to Apply for US Citizenship?

By becoming an American citizen you earn yourself the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury and also to help relatives immigrate more quickly to the United States. In addition, you get the right to travel with a United States passport and also the right to hold public office and obtain government jobs.

 

Who Can Apply?

The eligibility criteria requires you to be a lawful permanent resident  and  not on probation at the time of your naturalization interview, also at the time of submitting the application you must be at least 18 years of age. You must have been a resident, for at least 3 months, of the state or district where you are Applying for US citizenship. For the five years prior to applying for citizenship  and continuing up to the time of swearing in, you must demonstrate good moral character.

 

If applying for citizenship, it is compulsory that you must be a  legal permanent resident for the last five years; else as the spouse of an American citizen, you must continue to be married and have lived for last three years with that spouse until the time of swearing in. You need to have been present physically in the United States for at least one-half of the five (or three) years of residency including period of travels abroad  provided you did not take any trips abroad that lasted for more than six months. You would be asked for support documents as proof of travel. With exceptions only for certain special cases you must be able to read, write, and speak basic English and be able to pass the civics test.  Lastly you must be able to pass a test in basic United States history and government and also be able to take a loyalty oath.

Persons born in the United States are citizens regardless of whether their parents are citizens, green card holders, students, tourists, or illegal aliens. Also, children born to US citizens outside the United States may become a citizen by virtue of the citizenship of his or her parent(s).

How to Apply?

You must submit an N-400 application with USCIS to Apply for US citizenship. Following which you need to submit your fingerprints for FBI investigation and on successful completion of an interview with USCIS you should participate in US Oath Ceremony. Once you receive your certificate of naturalization, you are a citizen and can register to vote, begin petitioning for family members and also receive the benefits of U.S. citizens.

As soon as possible following the ceremony you will qualify for a United States passport, and must obtain one. In case you lose your Naturalization Certificate and you if you also do not have a U.S. passport, you will not have proof of citizenship until you can obtain a replacement certificate using the N-565 form.

Currently $595 is the filing fees for the N-400. All applicants under the age of 75 also need to pay additional $85 for fingerprinting services. If you are a citizen and your child is under 18, you will be able to apply for your child’s citizenship by filing an N-600.

Once the procedures are over, U.S. citizens become eligible for a wide range of benefits and assistance programs offered by the government, including Social Security and Medicare along with rights and benefits enjoyed by long-time legal permanent residents.

 

Easier to make the decision to renounce US citizenship nowadays?

Recent increase of events of renouncing US citizenship cannot be ignored. More confusing is that people renounce their dual citizenship with other countries to strengthen ties with United States. The news that Eduardo Saverin co- founder of Facebook Inc. (FB) gave up U.S. Citizenship to settle in Singapore and Michele Bachmann, Minnesota congresswoman and former US presidential candidate and also Swiss citizen since 1978, giving up Swiss citizenship couldn’t have missed your eye. Saverin is one of many who are renouncing US citizenship lately and could have done so to reduce his tax bill. Reason behind Bachmann’s decision could be because Americans have troubled relationship with multiple citizenship’s.

According to reports as much as 1800 people have renounced their US citizenships during the last one year 2011. They have cited tax purposes as the reason. The number of U.S. citizens who have voluntarily expatriating in 2011 is supposed to be more than double the number in previous years. In fact U.S. citizens who have turned in their passports in 2011 are more than total number of people who have renounced US citizenship in 2007, 2008, and 2009 put together. Also a new tax law requires foreign banks and other financial institutions to disclose data about their U.S. clients finance data to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) each year. If the US citizenship staying outside US failed to pay tax they are supposed to pay fine amount starting from $10,000 and also face criminal charges.

U.S. citizenship is priceless to some, worthless to others. But now the State Department has a dollar figure: U.S. citizenship is worth $450.At least that’s what it will cost you to renounce it. Under new consular fees published recently in the Federal Register, the cost of processing a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship skyrocketed from $0 to $450. So apart from the exit tax the person renouncing US citizenship should make sure he has completed the formalities in US. The amount $450 should definitely not be an issue for billionaires like Saverin who should be more than happy to get things finished off and done with asap!

Aware of Applicant Steps to Adjust Status in the US?

Any applicant with the legal status staying in US can upgrade to green card holder status when the visa is available. U.S. citizen’s immediate relative or one who qualifies into one family-based preference categories need to maintain their relation during the green card application process. The National Visa Center will notify the applicant in the US when the priority date is close to being current and also ask if the applicant wants to adjust status in the U.S. or if he/she will process the immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate.

The National Visa Center will proceed with the appropriate steps. The applicant must be lawfully admitted and present in the U.S. in order to be eligible to adjust status in the U.S. and must maintain a qualifying relationship with the U.S. sponsor, and must have a current priority date.

The Form I-130 and Form I-485  both should be filed simultaneously by the immediate relative who is in US at the National Benefits Center not waiting for the approval of I-130 or for the priority date to become current.

The National Visa Center will make a note if the applicant chooses to adjust status in the US and hold the case until USCIS requests it for processing. The following are the forms needed to be completed by applicant to adjust the status in the US.

Step 1: Complete the forms

•           Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status)

•           Form G-325A (Biographic Information)

•           Form G-1145 (Electronic Notification of Application Receipt/Approval)

•           Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) for each applicant, including family members.

While the application is being processed by USCIS an added benefit to adjusting status in the U.S. is the ability to request work and travel authorization. Processing time for adjustment of Status applications can sometimes take more than a year. Legal ability to work and travel in and out of US is beneficial in this case. Form I-765 for Employment Authorization and application travel document Form I-131 for Advance Parole authorization is the optional applications to be filed. Starting July 30, 2007 USCIS charges all adjustment of status applications filing fees includes fees for these optional travel and work authorization applications even if the applicant does not want to file them.

 Step 2: Assembling the Documents

For an adjustment of status application it can take some time to gather supporting documents especially when they may have to come from overseas. To ensure everything is ready and available while submitting the application it’s important to gather all supporting documents as soon as possible. Supporting documents are birth certificates, marriage certificates, financial documents, documentation of lawful presence, photographs and copy of passport.

Step 3: Complete Medical Exam:

The required medical exam by a designated “civil surgeon.” to determine if there is any health-related inadmissibility issue must be completed by every applicant. Government approved physician to administer physical exams for adjustment applicants is a designated civil surgeon.

The applicant’s medical history will be reviewed during the examination and determined if any vaccinations may be required.  A tuberculosis (TB) skin test and/or chest x-ray, as well as a blood test is given to all applicants.

In a sealed envelope the Form I-693 listing the medical exam results will be given to the applicant and it should be included with the rest of the application documents. The results are invalid if the applicant opens the envelope but applicants may wish to ask their physician for a copy of the results. Generally for a 12 months period the medical exams are valid and so should be scheduled close to the date adjustment of status application is being filed to avoid having the results expire.