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Should Immigrants Apply For Citizenship Before New USCIS Policies Take Effect?

Congratulations New Citizens

There are organizations, law firms and state governments that offer options to “green card” carriers

The answer to the question of the title of this article is “yes”. Yes it is viable and it is necessary that immigrants who meet the requirements to apply for naturalization in the United States, do so without fear.

There are organizations, law firms and state government programs that offer free legal advice to perform the process, including how to apply for an exemption from the $ 725 processing fee, $ 640 for the application and $ 85 for the photo and fingerprints fingerprints

One such option is Catholic Immigration Services, which has agreements with law firms with pro bono programs, such as New York Lawyers for the Public Interest / NYLPI.

Recent adjustments by the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office outline more thorough monitoring for those who apply for the Permanten Legal Residence or “green card” and naturalization. Now, if he rejects an application, the officers will be able to turn cases over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) to initiate a deportation process, which has raised concern among the immigrant community. So, is it a good time to change the immigration status?

“What we do is take into account the pre-evaluation … we guide people to know how complicated their case is, if someone could be in danger of applying, we warned them about their situation,” explained legal representative Chloe Moore. “It’s sad that people who have nothing to fear, because they did not commit a crime … and are afraid to apply for citizenship … but our volunteers explain everything to them.”

Annamaria Santamaria, of the Pro Bono Program of the NYLPI, which has been collaborating with these support projects for three years, explains that the workshop for “green card” bearers begins with a pre-evaluation via telephone.

“In this workshop we provide the ‘green card’ carriers with the service so that they can apply to the citizenship … through volunteer lawyers. If the immigrants are eligible … we follow up on their cases, “explained Santamaria.

The program is designed to guide and complete the Form N-400, as well as offer suggestions on the interview with USCIS, and evaluate whether a person can be exempt from the payment for the procedure.

“(In the) first interviews, if we detect that they have a criminal history, problems with taxes, for example, we tell them if it really can represent a problem,” adds Moore, who is incisive in pointing out that there is no minimum or maximum number of questions to answer, since “each case is different”.

In the interview with the experts, including Natasha Venegas Abarca, it was indicated that the consultants are professional and honest with the immigrants, in order not to give false expectations.

“We talk about their experiences … the volunteers have a lot of experience. (Changes in USCIS) are happening and it is not right (fear), but we try to make sure that these people can apply, “said Moore. “We are honest with the applicants, if you are not viable, it is better not to apply.”

Moore pointed out that in some cases it could be more complicated, due to the past of an immigrant, but insisted that it can not be generalized, since a personalized evaluation is necessary.

Signatures such as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, and Goldman Sachs volunteers join this help for immigrants.

In April of this year, for example, they managed to get 30 clients to complete their naturalization, allowing savings of more than $ 10,000.

So far, the program has allowed serving more than 600 immigrants from countries such as Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic.

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