Saturday, June 18, 2011

English & Citizenship Classes

Hogar Immigrant Services (part of Catholic Charities) offers English and Citizenship classes. Fall registration is from August 1-3 from 10 am to 12 pm and 6 pm - 8 pm.

Classes are held Monday through Thursday in the morning or in the evening.

The cost is $115 for the semester and includes textbooks.

Hogar Immigrant Services is located at 6201 Leesburg Pike, Suite 307, Falls Church, VA, 22044. For more information, please call Hogar Immigrant Services at (703) 534-9805 Ext. 222.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Citizenship Toolkit

USCIS has unveiled a Civics and Citizenship toolkit which consists of a collection of civics and citizenship resources for immigrants and the organizations that serve them.

You have the opportunity to explore the toolkit on the website and view the contents. Unfortunately the toolkit is only available to organizations. Individuals can either purchase the materials directly or receive free study materials if you retain the Law Office of Amy A. Long, PLLC to assist with your naturalization legal matters.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Naturalization Based on Three-Years of Marriage

You’ve had your green card for three years and you’re married to a U.S. Citizen. Now is the time to file your naturalization application, right?

Not so fast. There are a number of eligibility requirements that applicants must meet before applying to naturalize. When applying based on 3 years of marriage to a U.S. citizen, the applicant must have been living with their U.S. citizen spouse for the three years preceding the date of filing the citizenship application. Specifically the couple must have been living in marital union, defined in the regulation as actually residing with each other. The burden is on the applicant to prove that his or her marital union satisfies this requirement.

If the couple divorces, a party dies, or the U.S. citizen spouse expatriates, then the applicant can no longer naturalize based on three years of marriage to a U.S. citizen. So what happens to an applicant who is separated but not divorced? The determining factor is whether or not the separation signifies dissolution of the marital union. Legal separations and some informal separations will serve to dissolve marital unity thus making the applicant ineligible to naturalize based on 3 years of marriage. Involuntary separation, such as that which occurs when one spouse is deployed in the course of service in the U.S. Armed Forces, does not dissolve marital unity.

This immigration benefit permitting a green card holder to apply for U.S. citizenship after 3 years if the applicant is married to a U.S. citizen is governed by 8 C.F.R. 319.1(a)(3) and Immigration and Nationality Act section 319(a). The U.S. citizen spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for the entire 3 years. If the relationship doesn’t work out, marriage to another U.S. citizen will not serve as a substitute for purposes applying for this benefit.

What can you do if you no longer qualify for this benefit? You can submit your naturalization application after you have had your green card for five years. USCIS should not penalize you in the event that you had applied after 3 years and were deemed ineligible for this reason (or you withdrew your application after discovering you were no longer eligible for the 3 year benefit). However, keep in mind that every application to USCIS gives the agency a new opportunity to dig into your immigration history. Should you have an irregularity in your past then you should see an immigration lawyer who can advise you on whether or not to proceed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Naturalization Information Session

USCIS will be hosting a naturalization information session to provide the public with information on citizenship requirements and steps to become a U.S. Citizen.

The session will also cover:

--overview of the naturalization process
--the naturalization test and what you can expect
--free educational resources

This event will be held on April 12, 2011 from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Thomas Jefferson Library, 7415 Arlington Boulevard, Falls Church, VA.

Please visit the USCIS website on Free Information Sessions for a time and location near you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Open House at USCIS (Washington Office)

The Washington District Office for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) is holding a meet-and-greet open house on Saturday, March 5, 2011 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The address for the event is:

2675 Prosperity Avenue
Fairfax, VA 20598-2400

This is an opportunity to meet the District Director and speak with staff members about issues that are important to you and your community. The open house will also feature:

* A Naturalization Ceremony
* Information on Applying for U.S. Citizenship (including the latest test preparation materials)
* Information on petitioning for relatives
* Overview of the Application Support Center (ASC) (where biometrics are taken in connection with an applicant's N-400 citizenship application i.e. your photograph and fingerprints).

You must RSVP to by March 2, 2011.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

USCIS Issues New Naturalization Fact Sheet

USCIS released a new Fact Sheet on eligibility requirements to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pending N-400 Applications: A Serious Matter

Did you successfully pass your naturalization exam and then find yourself waiting months, even years, without another word from USCIS?

You are not alone. As an immigration attorney, I often hear from clients who have gotten so far as to pass their English and Civics test in connection with their application to become a naturalized citizen (Form N-400) only to find themselves waiting and waiting to be scheduled for their oath ceremony.

The government's answer to this delay is that the government is conducting mandatory FBI checks on applicants for citizenship, and are unable to schedule those applicants for their oath ceremony until the background checks are complete. Due to long wait times with the FBI, this wait can take many months.

There are three steps that you can take while you wait which should give you a better idea where the government is in adjudicating your application as well as piece of mind:

1. Wait six months from the date of your citizenship exam. This should be long enough for the government to obtain criminal background results from the FBI.

2. Call USCIS customer service at (800) 375-5283 to follow-up on your application. Make sure to have your Receipt Notice handy which contains your Receipt Number. This is the notice that you received from USCIS that acknowledged receipt of your N-400 application. The receipt notice should also contain your Alien Registration Number (also known as your "A number"), which customer service may request.

3. Schedule an InfoPass appointment. When you schedule an Infopass appointment, you will make an appointment to appear in person to meet with a USCIS customer service representative, with whom you can discuss your case.

If none of these options produce the answers that you are looking for and deserve, then you may want to consult with an immigration attorney. Make sure to keep a record of all of your communications with USCIS, as it may prove useful to show the steps that you took in the event of litigation. Your attorney may recommend filing an action in your state's district court, asking the judge to adjudicate the application or remand the case back to USCIS with instructions to reach a decision on your application within a certain number of days.

Under current U.S. immigration laws, it is important for lawful permanent residents to have the opportunity to became naturalized U.S. citizens because of the benefits and protection that U.S. citizenship provides. Once you are a U.S. citizen you can vote, apply for a U.S. passport, and petition for immediate relatives. There are certain jobs with the U.S. government that require U.S. citizenship. Moreover, until you are a U.S. citizen you are subject to the immigration laws, including the laws pertaining to removal and deportation. This means that even one mishap with the law can potentially land you in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Therefore, the failure of the U.S. government to complete applications for citizenship is a serious matter for which it must be held accountable.