In order to legally provide immigration services, each organization must be recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and have its own accredited representative. An accredited representative provides affordable, quality legal representation for those in need with respect to immigration and nationality law. Accredited representatives are authorized to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in exactly the same manner as are attorneys. (See 8 CFR §292.1(a)(4).)
In 2008, UCCW reached the long-term goal of becoming an accredited agency by the BIA and since that time has employed BIA representative to provide with any immigration advice, filling out immigration forms, and practicing immigration law. Accredited representatives, therefore, have the same basic obligations to their clients as do attorneys in carrying out this representation The mission of accredited representative is to help low and moderate income immigrants in the United States receive the rights and privileges that they are guaranteed under U.S. law.
For low-income families some services are offered FREE of charge.
If you would like to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States, you must file the following items with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
- Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Please review Supplement A to Form I-485 to see if additional fee requirements apply to you.
- Form G-325A Biographic Data Sheet (Between the ages of 14 and 79)
- Form I-693 Medical Examination Sheet (not required if you are applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a fiancé visa)
- Two color photos taken within 30 days (Please see USCIS Form I-485 for more instructions on photos.)
- Form I-864 Affidavit of Support (completed by the sponsor). (This requirement may not apply to you if you are adjusting to permanent resident status based on an employment petition.)
- Form I-765 Authorization for Employment (if seeking employment while case is processed). For more information, see How Do I Get a Work Permit?
- Evidence of inspection, admission or parole into the United States (Form I-94, Arrival Departure Record).
- If you have already been approved for an immigrant petition , you must submit a copy of the approval notice sent to you by the USCIS.
- If someone else is or has filed a petition for you that, if approved, will make an immigrant number immediately available to you, you must submit a copy of the completed petition that is being filed for you. Such applications include only immediate relative, special immigrant juvenile or special immigrant military petitions.
- If you were admitted into the United States as a fiancé of a U.S. citizen and married that citizen within the required 90 days, you must submit a copy of the fiancé petition approval notice and a copy of your marriage certificate.
- If you are an asylee or refugee, you must submit a copy of the letter or Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that shows the date you were granted asylum or refuge in the United States. You also must submit USCIS Form I-643 (Health and Human Services Statistical Data).
- If you are a Cuban citizen or native, you must use USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and submit evidence of your citizenship or nationality.
- If you have been a continuous resident of the United States since before January 1, 1972, you must submit evidence showing that you entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972 and that you have lived in the United States continuously since your entry into the country.
- If your parent became a lawful permanent resident after you were born, you must submit evidence that your parent has been or will be granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your birth certificate and proof of your relationship with your parent.
- If your spouse became a lawful permanent resident after you were married, you must submit evidence that your spouse has been granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your marriage certificate and proof that any previous marriages entered into by you or your spouse were legally terminated.
Overview and process
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is conferred upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:
- a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
- residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
- an ability to read, write, and speak English;
- a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
- good moral character;
- attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution; and,
- favorable disposition toward the United States.
All naturalization applicants must demonstrate good moral character, attachment, and favorable disposition.
Complete your application
Once you have Form N-400, you must fill it out completely. USCIS may ask for additional information if your application is incomplete. This will delay the processing of your naturalization application. When completing your application, you should answer all questions honestly. Be sure to keep a copy of your completed application for your records.
Collect the necessary documents
Applicants who are lawful permanent residents of the United States must submit photocopies (front and back) of Form I-551 (Permanent Resident Card). Depending on the circumstances, some applicants must send certain documents with their application. Be sure to send an English translation with any document that is not already in English. The translation must include a statement from the translator that he or she is competent to translate and that the translation is correct.
During your interview, a USCIS officer will also test your ability to read, write, and speak English (unless you are exempt from the English requirements). You will also be given a civics test in English (to test your knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government) unless you are exempt.
Even if exempt from the English test, you will need to take the civics test in the language of your choice or qualify for a waiver. Study materials have been publicly released by USCIS and are available at www.uscis.gov under Education and Resources.
Your English skills will be tested in the following ways:
- Reading. To test your ability to read in English, you must read one sentence, out of
three sentences, in a manner suggesting to the USCIS officer that you understand the meaning of the sentence.
- Writing. To test your ability to write in English, you must write one sentence, out of three sentences, in a manner that would be understandable as written to the USCIS officer.
- Speaking. Your ability to speak English is determined by your answers to questions normally asked by USCIS officers during the naturalization eligibility interview on Form N-400.
Your civics knowledge will be tested in the following way:
During your interview, the USCIS officer will ask you to orally answer a set of civics questions. You must answer six (6) out of 10 civics questions correctly to achieve a passing score.
A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States, or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must go through a multi-step process.
- The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, for you. This petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
- The Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United States. When an immigrant visa number is available, it means you can apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to you. You can check the status of a visa number in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.
- If you are already in the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available to you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you must then go to the U.S. consulate servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing. This is the other way to secure an immigrant visa number.
In order for a relative to sponsor you to immigrate to the United States, they must meet the following criteria:
- They must be a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and be able to provide documentation providing that status.
- They must prove that they can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line, by filling out an Affidavit of Support. The relatives which may be sponsored as an immigrant vary depending on whether the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
- If the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S:
- Husband or wife
- Unmarried child under 21 years of age
- Unmarried son or daughter over 21
- Married son or daughter of any age
- Brother or sister, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old, or
- Parent, if the sponsor is at least 21 years old.
- If the sponsor is a lawful permanent resident, they may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the U.S.:
- Husband or wife, or
- Unmarried son or daughter of any age. In any case, the sponsor must be able to provide proof of the relationship.
Many Immigration Forms require photographs to be submitted with the form. You will need to know the specifications for these photographs.
What is an Employment Authorization Document?
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you may work in the United States.
EAD: This document proves you are allowed to work in the United States.
Renewal EAD: You cannot file more than 120 days before your original employment authorization expires.
Replacement EAD: This document replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
How Do I Get A Travel Document?
What is a Travel Document and Who Needs One?
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may need permission to return to the United States after traveling abroad. This permission is granted through a travel document. Travel documents are also given to people who want to travel, but cannot get a passport from their country of nationality.
How to File
The alien must file USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos and applicable fees.
Each year, the Diversity Lottery (DV) Program makes 55,000 immigrant visas available through a lottery to people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The State Department (DOS) holds the lottery every year, and randomly selects approximately 110,000 applicants from all qualified entries. The DOS selects the approximately 110,000 applications since many will not complete the visa process. However once 55,000 are issued or the fiscal year ends, the DV program is closed. If you receive a visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program you will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.