June 16, 2014

Medical Exam Change for AOS Applications

On June 1, 2014, USCIS limited the validity period for all Forms I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to one year from the date of submission to USCIS. Applicants must also submit Form I-693 to USCIS within one year of the immigration medical examination. USCIS also will provide additional ways to submit Form I-693. As outlined in policy alert PA-2014-005, this updated policy applies to any Form I-693 supporting a benefit application that USCIS adjudicates on or after June 1, 2014.

February 3, 2014

GOP Drafts Immigration Reform Principles

House Republicans released a draft of principles on immigration reform as House GOP members gathered for their retreat to discuss their position on a range of issues.
Here is a synopsis of the draft on Immigration Reform:

Reforms to Employment-Based Immigration
The draft emphasizes the importance of employment-based immigration reform. Stating that each year thousands of foreign nationals pursue degrees at U.S. colleges and universities, particularly in high-skilled fields, the draft states that because of current laws, their expertise doesn’t spur economic growth or create jobs for Americans. The GOP’s draft calls for Visa and Green Card allocations that reflect the needs of employers and the need for these individuals to help the U.S. economy.
The draft states that the goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen national security by creating realistic, enforceable, usable, legal paths for entry into the United States. Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry. It is imperative, the draft states, that these temporary workers are able to meet U.S. economic needs and do not displace or disadvantage U.S. workers.
Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement
Full implementation of a workable electronic employment verification system.
Border Security and Interior Enforcement
First on the GOP agenda is securing the U.S. borders. In addition, once immigration reform is enacted, the draft emphasizes zero tolerance policy for those who cross the border illegally or overstay their Visas in the future.
Implement Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System
The Republicans want a fully functioning Entry-Exit system, which has been mandated by eight separate statutes over the past 17 years. At least three of these laws call for this system to be biometric, using technology to verify identity and prevent fraud. The Republicans want to implement this system to identify and track down visitors who abuse U.S. laws.
The draft outlines provisions for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to the United States as children once they meet certain eligibility standards, serve honorably in the U.S. military or attain a college degree.
Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law
The draft outlines a national and economic security policy that will require people living and working in the U.S. illegally to come forward – offering them the opportunity to live in the U.S. if they are willing “to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).” Criminal aliens, gang members, sex offenders, and those who do not meet the above requirements will not be eligible for this program.

January 14, 2014

Undocumented Immigrants Eligible for CA Driver’s Licenses

In October 2013, CA Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 60, allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for CA driver’s licenses. When the law takes effect January 1, 2015, California will be the ninth state (along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) to allow undocumented immigrants to drive legally.

Under the law, the CA Department of Motor Vehicles is required to issue driver’s licenses to an undocumented immigrant who can prove his or her identity, has established CA residency, and passes the requisite driving exams. Officials have estimated that 1.4 million individuals will apply for licenses under the law.

Details about how the new licenses will look and the exact process for obtaining them are still unknown. However, Federal law does require the card to have some distinguishable letters. For example, the front of the licenses may read “DP” for “driving privilege” before the license number rather than the “DL” used on traditional licenses. Additionally, language may be added to the back of the license stating limitations, such as that the holder may not use it for federal identification purposes.

Related bills that await Governor Brown’s signature include allowing non-citizens to serve on juries and making it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers by threatening to report them to immigration authorities. Earlier this month, California allowed the first undocumented immigrant to be admitted to the CA Bar Association and legally practice law in the state.

For more details regarding the new law, please see the Reuter’s article “Illegal immigrants can get driver’s licenses under new California law.”

January 3, 2014

Undocumented Immigrant Granted CA Law License

On January 3, 2014 the California Supreme Court granted a California license to practice law to an undocumented immigrant. Sergio Garcia, 36, is from Mexico and has lived in the United States for years. He first entered California when he was less than two years old, returned to Mexico at 9, and illegally re-entered the United States at the age of 17. He attended Cal Northern School of Law and passed the California Bar exam. However, he has not yet been granted a visa due to the long backlog of applicants (his father has resident status and filed for a visa on his son’s behalf in 1994).

Garcia challenged a 1996 law barring undocumented immigrants from receiving professional licenses from government agencies or with the use of public funds. The federal government argued the California courts were funded by public money, thus precluding him from being granted a license. Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a series of immigrant rights bills in October, including one allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain law licenses. This law took effect January 1, 2014. On January 3, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Garcia, determining he “possesses the requisite good moral character to qualify for a law license.”

Two similar cases are pending in Florida and New York. The Obama administration has made it clear that it will oppose Bar entry to undocumented immigrants unless each state’s Legislature passes its own laws allowing it. This position is surprising considering the Obama administration has shielded from deportation those who were brought to the United States illegally as children, graduated from high school, and have a clean criminal record.

Some questions on this matter remain unresolved. It is unclear how many people will qualify to practice law under the ruling. It is also unclear whether Garcia can argue cases in federal court or in other states. It is illegal under federal law for law firms to hire him.

This ruling may lead the way to allowing undocumented immigrants to receive professional licenses in other fields, such as medicine, nursing, and accounting.

More information about Garcia and the case can be found on CNN.

November 26, 2013

Poll: Majority in U.S. Support Path to Citizenship

At a time when the prospects of the House taking up immigration reform legislation any time soon do not look promising, a new poll finds a solid majority of Americans favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“Today, 63% of Americans favor providing a way for immigrants who are currently living in the United States illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements, while 14% support allowing them to become permanent legal residents but not citizens,” states a new report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. The report found the number of Americans supporting a pathway to citizenship is even higher when the question mentions certain requirements immigrants must meet in order to qualify.

The results show Americans have remained consistent on the issue for the past year; the institute found the same number (63 percent) in March and August.

These findings are consistent across regions of the country, as well as political parties and religions. Broken down, this includes 73 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of Republicans, and 57 percent of Independents. Roughly six-in-10 residents of Arizona, Ohio, and Florida also agree, as well as white evangelicals (55 percent), minority Protestants (69 percent), white, mainstream Protestants (60 percent), Catholics (62 percent), and those with no religious affiliation (64 percent).

Fifty-five percent of Hispanics thought immigration should be a priority for the President and Congress, a significantly higher number than non-Latino whites (38 percent) and non-Latino blacks (39 percent). In total, about 4 in 10 say this should be a priority.

by Sandra Lilley/NBC Latino News

January 7, 2011

USCIS Publishes “Important Information for New Citizens”

The USCIS has published a form entitled “Important Information for New Citizens” that provides a list of some of the top rights and responsibilities assumed by all U.S. citizens, including the right to freely express oneself and the responsibility to uphold the Constitution. The publication also provides a summary of the actions to be taken upon becoming a U.S. citizen. The next steps include the following:

• Applying for a U.S passport
• Updating your Social Security record
• Registering to vote
• Obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship for your children
• Sponsoring family members to come to the U.S.

To view the publication in full, see http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Office%20of%20Citizenship/Citizenship%20Resource%20Center

October 11, 2010

On-Line Citizenship Resource Center

USCIS offers a U.S. citizenship on-line resource guide, including citizenship preparation materials and classes for immigrants, teachers, and community-based organizations. For more information on the USCIS Citizenship Resource Center, see http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.2182d258012d5eb62b6859c7526e0aa0/?vgnextoid=37decf2351488210VgnVCM10000025e6a00aRCRD&vgnextchannel=37decf2351488210VgnVCM10000025e6a00aRCRD

April 11, 2010

Naturalization Video Now Available

The USCIS has issued a 16-minute naturalization (U.S. citizenship) video for applicants, which includes information about eligibility requirements, the application process, the interview and the required tests. To see the video, please visit this link: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=76574bbe6cb97210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=d6369ddf801b3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD.

March 8, 2010

U.S. Passport Day Comes to San Francisco - 03/27/2010

The U.S. passport agency in San Francisco, California, is joining passport agencies around the country in holding an event on 03/27/2010 from 10AM - 3PM to provide current and prospective U.S. citizens passport information and to accept passport applications. The San Francisco Passport Agency is located at 95 Hawthorne Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California 94105. If you'd like information about U.S. passport requirements and the application, please visit travel.state.gov or call 1-877-487-2778. Please note that you do not need to pre-register for U.S. passport day.

March 4, 2010

U.S. Citizenship Statistics

50 new individuals become naturalized U.S. citizens March 1, 2010 in a special ceremony at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice's Great Hall. In light of this special ceremony, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has published the following citizenship statistics:

1907: 7,941 individuals naturalized
1908: 25,975 individuals naturalized
1971-1980: 1.5 million individuals naturalized (main areas were Europe, Philippines, Cuba and China)
1981-1990: 2.3 million individuals naturalized (main areas were Asia, Canada and Mexico)
1991-2000: 5.6 million individuals naturalized (main areas were Philippines, Vietnam and Mexico)
2001-2010: Over 5.6 million individuals naturalized (main areas are Philippines, Vietnam and Mexico)

January 20, 2010

Expedited U.S. Citizenship for Members of the Military

The DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced January 15, 2010 that the citizenship process for men and women defending the U.S. has been streamlined by a new law amending former DHS regulations. This new law reduces the time requirements for naturalization through U.S. military service from 3 years to 1 year for applicants who served during peacetime. The law also extends benefits to members of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve of the U.S. Armed Forces. Members who have served honorably in active-duty status or in the Selected Reserve for any time since 09/11/2001, can file for citizenship immediately. In an effort to increase efficiency and honor those defending the U.S., the new law also eliminates the need for military members to provide certain redundant biographic information with their citizenship applications.