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Posts Tagged ‘USCIS’

Income for the USCIS comes largely from application and petition fees. If the fee is waived for certain applicants, it means higher fees for the others. There are certain individuals who cannot afford the application or petition fee. The USCIS has recognized this and developed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, to assist the fee waiver request process.

Though the USCIS introduced Form I-912, they still continue receiving certain applicant-generated fee waiver requests (without Form I-912). The instructions that come along the Form have the principles that USCIS adopts while passing a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is through Form I-912 or via just an applicant’s written statement requesting a fee waiver. The instructions will guide the applicants on the process and the supporting documents that needs to be submitted. There are many avenues that are considered before coming to a final decision on fee waiver requests. The applicant’s income level or financial condition is reviewed.

Means-tested benefit is one that would have a say in the final decision for fee waivers. There are various acceptable means-tested benefits, and the kinds of acceptable evidence used to document the receipt of a means-tested benefit. This also will decide which family members will qualify for a fee waiver based upon the main applicant’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If you are receiving a means-tested benefit and you have included strong proof along with your fee waiver request, the USCIS will generally approve your fee waiver request, and no other information is required.

At the time of filing your request, is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines? If you have included adequate proof that your household income is at or below 150 % , your fee waiver will generally be approved. Forms I-90, I-191, I-751, I-765, I-817, I-821, I-881, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-565, N-600, N-600K are general fee waivers.

Battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or US Citizen, or having Temporary Protected can get Humanitarian Fee Waivers. VAWA self-petitioners or a foreign national who has or is requesting a T visa or U visa can also claim waivers under the humanitarian fee waiver. This also includes filings not otherwise eligible for a fee waiver or qualifying only for a conditional fee waiver such as Forms I-212, I-485, I-539, and I-601.

There are Conditional Fee Waivers too. You can apply for a fee waiver if you are subject to certain conditions. Apart from these, an applicant who does not have to show he/she will not become a public charge for admission or adjustment of status purposes may request a waiver for Forms I-192, I-192, I-485 and I-601. The USCIS is sole authority in deciding whether to grant a fee waiver or not and they have determined that some applications and petitions should be designated as fee exempt.

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USCIS will change the filing locations for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. From Jan. 1, 2012, petitioners have to mail their stand-alone I-130 applications to either the Chicago Lockbox or the Phoenix Lockbox, depending on where they stay in the US. The USCIS will inform about the new filing locations on Jan.1 on their website. This effort is to ensure more efficient and effective processing of Form I-130.

However, note that there will be no change in filing locations when an individual is submitting Form I-130 along with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Such petitioners can continue to mail them to the Chicago Lockbox facility.

Petitioners filing from outside the US in countries without USCIS offices will also continue to file at the Chicago Lockbox facility. If there is a USCIS office abroad, petitioners may send their I-130 forms to the Chicago Lockbox, or they may file their Forms I-130 at the international USCIS office. Petitioners should make sure they are filing at the proper location because submitting Form I-130 packages to the incorrect Lockbox location may experience a delay in processing.

In addition to this update, On Oct. 19, 2011, a USCIS announced processing improvements for certain naturalization and citizenship forms. It has centralized intake of Forms N-336, N-600 and N-600K to the Phoenix Lockbox facility. Form N-300 is handled by the Dallas Lockbox facility. This change is aimed at streamlining the way forms are processed, speeding up the collection and deposit of fees and improves the consistency of our intake process.

Forms that are received at local and district offices after Dec. 2, 2011, will no longer be forwarded to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facility. Beginning Dec. 5, impacted forms received locally will be returned to the petitioners and they will also be informed on how to re-file at a designated USCIS Lockbox facility. Petitioners are advised to read form instructions carefully before filing their form to ensure that they are filing the correct form type and edition at the correct location.

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The USCIS recently launched an enhanced Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and a redesigned Form N-560, Certificate of Citizenship, with additional features to strengthen security and deter fraud.

A state-of-the-art technology has been incorporated into the new documents which will help in detering counterfeit, obstruct tampering, and help in quick and accurate authentication. More than 1 million people are expected to get the new documents over the next year. The USCIS started issuing new EADs and will begin using the redesigned certificates from Oct. 30 , 2011.

With the added features, the EAD will better equip employees, employers and law enforcement officials to recognize the card as the most reliable proof of authorization to work in the US. The USCIS, in coordination with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Forensic Document Laboratory incorporated this technology and features as a measure to deter fraud. In addition, a secure printing process has helped in making the certificate more tamper-proof.

Though the look and feel of the documents is new, the filing and the entire application process remain unchanged. EADs already in circulation will be replaced as individuals apply for their renewal or replacement. Remember that all EADs issued previously continue to remain valid until the expiration date printed on the card. Certificates of Citizenship issued earlier remain valid indefinitely.

These steps show USCIS’s efforts to producing more secure documentation. Earlier in 2010, USCIS issued a new Permanent Resident Card (green card), which had security features to the card and technology improvements in the card production process. Apart from this, they launched the redesigned Certificate of Naturalization that had the naturalization candidate’s digitized photo and signature on the document. The USCIS will continue its efforts of strengthening document security features as technology improves.

Features

You will find the card number on the front of the card and it has the alien registration number without the initial letter “A.” The front of the card also has the case number, which reflects the case receipt number. It is a fine-line artwork and the card is multi-layered making it difficult to reproduce. The design of the card and the personalized features are meant to deter fraud.

In addition, the new process of producing certificates will rely on a printing process that is more tamper and fraud resistant than the earlier methods used. The new certificate will have the updated physical security features that makes it less susceptible to fraud. This new process is less labor intensive, less prone to human error and more importantly, more secure.

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On Oct. 19, 2011, a USCIS issued an update announcing improvements in the processing of certain naturalization and citizenship forms. USCIS is enhancing the filing process for certain applications related to Naturalization and citizenship (N-Forms). From Oct. 30, 2011, applicants can file N-Forms at a secure Lockbox facility instead of the USCIS local offices through the new process. This change is aimed at streamlining the way forms are processed, accelerating the collection and deposit of fees focus on improving the consistency of the USCIS intake process.

As mentioned earlier, applicants have to submit forms directly to the appropriate Lockbox beginning Oct. 30, 2011. However, note that all such forms received by local USCIS offices during a transition period (Oct. 30 and Dec. 2, 2011) will be forwarded to the USCIS Lockbox facility. Forms received at local USCIS offices after Dec. 2, 2011, will not be forwarded but will be sent back to the applicant with further instructions on how to file again at a designated USCIS Lockbox facility. USCIS will be centralizing intake of Forms N-336, N-600 and N-600K at the Phoenix Lockbox facility. Form N-300 will be handled by the Dallas Lockbox facility and applicants filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, file at a Lockbox facility.

The USCIS has updated the information on their N-Form Web pages regarding filing forms at a Lockbox facility to clearly identify this change. Ensure that you read the form instructions thoroughly before filing the form to ensure that you are filing the correct form type at the correct location. It is very important to remember that applicants submitting the wrong form type for the benefit sought will not receive a fee refund. Instead, they will be required to re-apply using the correct form and pay a new fee.

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If you are an individual or an employer who wants to resolve a problem with the USCIS, you can get in touch with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman helps in fixing systemic problems and enhance the quality of services provided by USCIS.

The Ombudsman acts independently and is confidential and impartial and does not charge any fee for the service. The Ombudsman provides an impartial and independent ideas to the USCIS to resolve any problems you have with your application or petition. However, first try reaching the USCIS customer service for help before getting in touch with the Ombudsman for help.

Call the USCIS Customer Service Center at their toll free number 1-800-375-5283. You can track the status of your case online or make an INFOPASS appointment with USCIS.

The Ombudsman can be of help only in certain instances. They can help if you are facing an emergency or hardship caused by a mistake, error, or delay by USCIS. They can help if you are having a problem with your application or petition that you could not get it resolved with the USCIS OR if your application or petition is pending beyond the normal processing time.

However, note that the Ombudsman will not be able to help if you are looking for legal advice as the Ombudsman does not provide legal advice. Remember that the Ombudsman cannot help if you want assistance regarding an issue that does not involve USCIS. The Ombudsman’s authority is limited to assisting persons having problems that are related to USCIS applications, petitions, or services.

Though the Ombudsman’s Office can provide unbiased and independent recommendations to the USCIS to resolve problems, the Ombudsman’s Office are not authorized to make or change USCIS decisions. If your problem was not resolved in spite of having called the USCIS customer service options, you can ask the Ombudsman’s Office for help by submitting your case online using Ombudsman Online Case Assistance, through which you can request a direct, paperless submission of requests for assistance. You have another option where you can also download and complete Form DHS-7001, Case Submission Form, that will allow the Ombudsman’s Office to share your confidential information with USCIS.

While filing Form DHS-7001 online, you have to include all USCIS receipt numbers on forms related to your application or petition. In addition, include copies of important information and documentation, such as paperwork you submitted to the USCIS, any documents you received from USCIS and other information you find is important to your application or petition. Make sure you do not send original documents. You can also send the signed Form DHS-7001 and any additional information to the Ombudsman’s Office by By e-mail (cisombudsman@dhs.gov)

Once the Ombudsman’s Office receives your request, they will review the information to make sure that they can help with your situation. Subsequently, they will research the status of the matter and if they feel they can be of help, will contact the USCIS on your behalf with recommendations on how to resolve the problem.

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The LPR population includes persons granted lawful permanent residence (green card) holders, but not those who had become US citizens. Data for the estimates were obtained primarily from administrative records of USCIS. The methodology used to figure out the 2010 estimates is the same as that was used in previous DHS estimates. An estimated 12.6 million green card holders lived in the US on January 1, 2010 and out of these 8.1 million were eligible for American citizenship.

Green card holders (LPRs) are eligible to file the citizenship form, N-400 after meeting certain requirements. Most LPRs have to fulfill a five-year residency requirement for naturalization. Spouses of US citizens can apply in three years. It was assumed that all LPRs have to satisfy a five-year residency requirement except for those whose status was as a spouse of a US citizen. Certain categories of immigrants receive credit for the period prior to the actual grant of LPR status. The credited time or earlier dates are not included in the residency records used for this analysis and must be estimated. Asylees are credited one year in asylum status toward their LPR status. So Asylees qualify for naturalization four years after approval of their adjustment of status application.

It is estimated that 12.6 million legal permanent residents were living in the US on January 1, 2010. Out of this 12.6 million, an estimated 8.1 million qualify for naturalization. Between January 2008 and 2010, the total LPR population and LPR population eligible for naturalization more or less remained the same. In general, the size of the LPR population changes less rapidly than the total legally resident population because increases in the number of persons becoming LPRs each year are offset by persons who opt for naturalization.

Per USCIS administrative records, 25.2 million foreign nationals obtained LPR status between 1980 and 2009. At the end of 2009, an estimated 9.7 million (38 percent) had naturalized, 1.3 million (5 percent) had derived citizenship before becoming 18 years old and 3.2 million (13 percent) died or emigrated. An estimated 4.6 million LPRs do not qualify for naturalization, leaving 8.1 million LPRs eligible to apply to naturalize in 2010.

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If you are in the United States illegally, you may qualify for immigration amnesty, a process for granting legal immigration status. Persons who entered the US illegally or persons who have overstayed on their visa may qualify for immigration amnesty.

If is important to remember that Immigration amnesty is mostly granted a specific group of people and issued only to those persons who have not committed any other illegal activity apart from the fact that they are in the US illegally.

From 1986 onwards, Congress has occasionally passed legislation that allowed immigration amnesty to specific groups of persons. Immigration amnesty has always been a much debated issue. Some people strongly believe that blanket amnesty should be granted to all persons who are in the US illegally but they should not have committed any other crime. They feel that if all the persons who are in the US illegally were removed, the US would have to face severe economic setbacks.

It is roughly estimated that there are twelve million persons in the US without legal immigration status. Others who oppose this, point out that persons who are in the country illegally have already broken the law and should not be granted legal status. According to them, granting immigration amnesty will also embarrass immigrants who go per the rules when applying for legal immigration status.

Immigration amnesty process :

Checking if you are eligible for immigration amnesty is the first step. As pointed out above, the laws concerning this issue change frequently. Normally, if you have overstayed your visa beyond the permitted limit or entered the US without the proper visa, you may be eligible for immigration amnesty. Should you meet the eligibility requirements, your child/ren or spouse will also qualify to apply for a change of status in the US

Having a qualified immigration attorney through the process would be of much help as applying for immigration amnesty is a a very sophisticated process because of the frequent changes in the the legislation regarding amnesty. Even if you feel you are competent enough to go ahead with the process yourself, ensure that you consult an immigration attorney to understand the best way to proceed.

You have to file the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485) with the USCIS. Complete Form I-485 and submit it to the USCIS. Along with the form, you will have detailed instructions regarding the fees and the supporting documents that you have to include. You may be allowed to apply for a work permit while your case is pending. Apply for a work permit so that you can remain and work legally in the US while you are yet to get a decision on your application filed.

The USCIS will review your application and will inform you about their decision. As you wait for the decision regarding your application, you cannot leave the US without completing certain documentation and forms. Not following or not giving importance to such rules may result in rejection of your application

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