In the vast majority of cases, the path to citizenship in the United States goes through permanent resident status (green card holder). In other words, you generally must become a permanent resident before you can naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Therefore, to discuss the various paths to U.S. citizenship, we must illustrate the different ways to get to green card status.
Most people arrive in the U.S. and become permanent residents through family-based immigration. However, eligibility can also be derived from employment, asylum/refugee status and certain humanitarian reasons. There are even paths to citizenship for certain individuals currently with DACA, TPS or no status (undocumented). After becoming a permanent resident, the majority of citizenship applicants qualify for naturalization based on five years of continuous residence.
The next wave of Trump administration policy designed to reduce immigration is here. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed major increases in the immigration fee structure. The USCIS immigration fee increase would nearly double the cost of some applications.
The Trump administration is simultaneously squeezing immigrants with a new public charge rule and changes to the fee waiver rules that make it more difficult for low-income immigrants and their families. To add insult to injury, some of the new fees would go to pay for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Since September 2017 the Trump Administration has had a policy to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Although the decision to wind down DACA has been stopped in the courts for now, the future of the program is uncertain. The policy is being challenged in the highest court. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case (McAleenan v. Vidal ) that will likely determine the future for more than 700,000 DACA recipients. This has put a renewed emphasis for many DACA recipients to find other paths to legal status. Obtaining a DACA green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common ways to gain legal status.
After you’ve filed almost any application or petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will respond by mailing you a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, within approximately 1-3 weeks. (It may take longer to receive the I-797C for some other forms like Form I-751.) The I-797C, Notice of Action, is commonly known as a receipt letter.
For applicants who have incorrectly filed or included the wrong payment, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has rejected your case. You will need to refile. If you’ve prepared the form correctly and followed the USCIS directions carefully, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has accepted your case. Once the form has been accepted, USCIS will begin reviewing your case.
The receipt letter contains a unique 13-digit receipt number. Also known as a case number, it’s a very important number to help you track the progress of your case or identify a particular immigration filing.
Last week House Democrats announced a new immigration proposal that would give 2 million dreamers and other immigrants a path to citizenship. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would also provide protections for beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure programs. It’s a long-term immigration solution for dreamers and other beneficiaries of programs that the Trump Administration is trying to cancel.
Under the rules of the proposed law, dreamers would generally be able to apply for a 10-year conditional green card if they came to the United States when they were younger than 17 and if they have lived in the country for Continue reading →
Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no different than any other massive government organization – they are heavily burdened with a large workload and aren’t the most efficient organization. In fact, several agencies make up the overall immigration system. Consular offices, Department of State and the National Visa Center all play a role. Over 6 million forms are filed with USCIS each year alone. Even if you’ve used our tips for preparing USCIS forms, it’s not uncommon for these agencies to lose parts of your application package or even the whole thing. But there are some preventive measures so that you don’t have to call us to say, “USCIS lost my application!” Continue reading →
The initial application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an exhaustive and challenging process for many. But you should be pleasantly surprised to know that the DACA renewal application is significantly less complicated.
In fact, many DACA applicants are now able to prepare the DACA renewal application by themselves.
Eligibility for DACA Renewal
An individual may be considered for renewal of DACA if he or she met the guidelines for consideration of initial DACA and meets all the following guidelines: Continue reading →
For the second time, a federal judge has issued an injunction that orders the Trump administration to continue accepting applications for the DACA program. The New York ruling affirms an earlier court injunction in California that saved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from certain death. USCIS is now accepting DACA renewal applications.
On September 5, 2017, attorney general Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would phase out DACA. At the time of the announcement, eligible applicants could file a DACA application only until October 5, 2017.
Under the federal court ruling, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now run the DACA program as it was before the September 5 announcement. However, USCIS says that they will not be accepting applications for initial grants of DACA, only renewal applications. Continue reading →
It’s probably the first U.S.-government issued identification that you’ve ever had. So losing a work permit from your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grant can be an exasperating experience. Don’t despair; you can replace a lost DACA card.
It’s important to understand that losing the DACA card, officially known as an employment authorization card, does not mean that you’ve lost your grant of DACA. It’s only a card that proves your deferred action status and authorization to work in the United States.
However, not having the work permit in your possession can create at least two serious problems: Continue reading →
Several million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. received a stunning blow last week when the Supreme Court’s deadlocked decision effectively killed President Obama’s new deferred action plans. The immigration actions known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Permanent Residents (DAPA) and an expanded version of the already successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) appear to be hopelessly frozen.
For undocumented immigrants, the clear goal is a path to a long-term legal status. These paths to legal status lead to permanent resident status (green card) and U.S. citizenship. Certain immigrants with no legal status may have some paths available. This article covers those options and who could qualify for them. Continue reading →