Immigration Program

Center for New Americans offers help with immigration applications.

Some ways Center for New Americans can help:

  • Renew your green card
  • Bring family members to live in the US
  • Change from non-immigrant to immigrant status
  • Remove conditions on your status based on marriage
  • Change your address with USCIS
  • Guidance
  • Application Review
  • Legal Consultations and Referrals (Attorney Scott Clark holds information sessions at Center for New Americans in Northampton and works with Center for New Americans staff)​

For more information, contact Maureen at citizen@cnam.org

Center for New Americans is recognized by the Bureau of Immigration Affairs.  Maureen McMahon, Citizenship & Immigration Program Coordinator,  is accredited by the Office of Legal Access Programs.

 

Updated Information for New Legal Permanent Residents

When you become a legal permanent resident there are some things you should know and do.

If you are a Center for New Americans client, please tell us when you get your card.

Expired Card - When your card expires it does not mean that your status has expired.  Your card will expire and need to be renewed every ten years.  An expired card may be a problem if you travel, want to get a new job, get or renew a driver’s license, or apply for benefits.

Change of address -You must notify USCIS of your new address within ten days every time you move.  You may use form AR-11 and do it online or mail it in.

Removal of Conditions - If you got your green card through your spouse and you had been married fewer than two years, you will have a conditional status for two years.  In the 90-day period immediately before the conditional residence expires, you and your spouse will need to file a petition to remove the conditions.  Please, pay attention to this.  You could lose your permanent resident status if you do not file on time.

Keep Copies - Keep your green card in a safe place where you will be able to find it.  Carry a photocopy of your card with you at all times.  It might be a good idea to also keep a photocopy in a different safe place.

Important Travel Restrictions - You are allowed to travel out of the United States for up to six months at a time.  If you stay out of the U.S. longer than six months without first getting permission from USCIS you could be stopped at the border and possibly not permitted to enter.

Important Rules about Travel for Refugees & Asylees - If you came to the U.S. as a refugee or got asylum after you arrived here, do not travel to your home country.  The basis of your claim was that it was unsafe for you to be there.  Immigration may question your honesty on your application about the danger you were in if you go back.  If they believe that you lied, you may be deported.

 

Becoming a citizen

Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) may apply to become citizens of the U.S. after five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen for those three years).

If you want to become a citizen of the U.S. there are things you might need.  It is a good idea to keep all of the following in a safe place:

  • Copies of all immigration applications/petitions (I-485, refugee/asylum forms) you have submitted with the supporting documents;
  • Tax returns;
  • Birth certificates of all children (with English translations);
  • Certificates of marriage and final divorce decrees, if any (with English translations);
  • All your passports - current and expired;
  • Record of all travel outside the U.S., the countries visited, the dates left and returned (passports aren’t always stamped or easy to read);
  • List of all groups (political, professional, religious, etc.) to which you have belonged – purpose, dates, location;
  • Addresses where you have lived - the dates you moved in and moved out;
  • Employment  and schools– the name and addresses of the companies where you have worked or the schools attended, the dates you started and finished, and occupation at each job;
  • Certificates of marriage and final divorce decrees, if any;
  • Record of all traffic tickets, police encounters, date, location, outcome, copies of any reports; and
  • Certified court documents if you had to appear in court.

 

Standard Driver's License vs REAL ID Driver's license 

To get a learner's permit, driver’s license, or Mass ID in Massachusetts, you need to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence, a Social Security number, and Massachusetts residency. The documentation being required is more rigorous than previously required. Learn what documents you can use here. 

This is particularly important for people who have expired green cards. If your green card has expired, you need to renew your green card and then return to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). It can take 5-8 months to get the new green card.  With the receipt notice, people can make an appointment with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) to get their passport stamped. 

If you have the required documentation, you must decide between a Standard driver’s license/ID and a REAL ID driver’s license/ID. REAL ID is a federal ID that you can use, beginning October 2020, to fly within the United States or enter federal buildings. To get one, you need to provide additional documentation and come into an RMV service center. Learn more about REAL ID and whether or not you need one here.

What to Do if ICE Comes to Your Door

Videos from Brooklyn Defender Services and the ACLU offer guidance on worst-case scenarios for undocumented people.

Article by VICE

The ACLU animated videos: We Have Rights March 2018

English versions with English captions

If ICE Arrests Us

In Our Streets

Inside Our Homes

When ICE is Outside Our Doors

Also versions narrated in six other languages—Spanish, Urdu, Arabic, Russian, Haitian Creole and Mandarin.

 

Helpful App: An app has been developed to allow people who are detained to notify family and friends to care for children, call a lawyer.  Click here: https://notifica.us.

This app should only be used if you are at home.  We do not recommend that you reach for your phone if you are on the street or in a car when a member of ICE or a police officer approaches you.

Know Your Rights Fliers are Available in Multiple Languages:

Simplified Chinese

Traditional Chinese

Haitian

Arabic

Spanish

English

Portuguese

Somali 

Vietnamese

Family Preparation Plan 

English

Spanish

Update onTemporary Protected Status (TPS)

 TPS has been extended until January 2, 2020 for people from Sudan, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti.  Work permits are automatically extended too. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  had announced that it was not extending TPS for nationals from Honduras, Nepal, El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua. (People with TPS had permission to remain in the United States because their countries were deemed unsafe.)  The TPS extension to January 2020 is a result of court cases challenging this DHS ruling.

Nationals of countries that are under temporary protected status as of September 2018 and the current end dates:

•   El Salvador — initiated in response to the 2001 El Salvador earthquakes; temporary protected status of 263,280 Salvadorans will end as of September 9, 2019. 

•   Haiti — initiated in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake; temporary protected status will end as of July 22, 2019. 

•   Honduras — initiated in response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998; temporary protected status ends as of January 5, 2020. 

•     Nepal — as of June 25, 2015, in response to the conditions resulting from the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, and the subsequent aftershocks; terminates on June 24, 2019. 

•   Nicaragua — initiated in response to Hurricane Mitch in 1998; protection ends as of January 5, 2019. 

•   Somalia — since 2012, in response to the ongoing Somali Civil War; extended through March 17, 2020

•   South Sudan — since 2016, in response to the ongoing South Sudanese Civil War; extended through May 2, 2019

•   Sudan — since 2013, in response to the ongoing Sudanese conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile; protection ends as of November 2, 2018. 

•   Syria — as of March 29, 2012, in response to the ongoing Syrian Civil War; designated through September 30, 2019. 

•   Yemen — as of September 3, 2015, in response to ongoing conflict in the area as a result of the Yemeni Civil War; extended through March 3, 2020. 

As it stands, once TPS ends for their country, people with this status will lose any legal right to live and work in the United States.  The most serious concern is for anyone who has a current deportation order against them; DHS may detain or deport them. 

 

This Ruling is Now on Hold Thanks to a Court Ruling

The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security that it was ending Temporary Protected Status was challenged in court.  On October 3, 2018, a U.S. District Court in California ruled in  the case, Ramos v. Nielsen, that the Department of Homeland Security may not end Temporary Protected Status for residents of Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador while the case is being argued in court.

 

TPS Extended for Residents of Yemen and Somalia

TPS has been extended for people from Yemen and Somalia.  People from those countries who already have TPS must re-register in order to maintain their protected status.  Yemenis must re-register by October 15, 2018.  Their status will be good until March 3, 2020.  Somalis must re-register by October 26, 2018.  Their status will be good until March 17, 2020.  

For more information you can check the following website:

https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status.  

 

My TPS Is Ending – What Can I Do?

You may choose to leave the U.S.  Maybe you have lived here for decades and have family here.  You may not want to leave.  There are options that will allow some people to obtain legal status and remain in the U.S.

Recommendations

1.  Verify whether there is a deportation order out for you.  TPS recipients can check by calling 1-800-898-7180 and entering your A number.  Enter option 1 to learn if you have a hearing date.  Enter option 3 to learn about any decisions that were made about your case. If there is no information about you then there is no deportation order for you.

2.  Get your records now.  Find out what information is in the government’s official files.  It is important to know if there is something you have forgotten about or is different from the way you remember it.  Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides access by anyone to government records.  The Privacy Act (PA) allows an individual to access his/her individual records from government.  

File Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)/Privacy Act (PA) requests with any of the following offices with which you have had contact:

• USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)

• ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

• CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

• EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review is an office of the U.S. Dept of Justice) 

There are different processes depending on which office has the records you want.  Check the websites for more information.

• USCIS   https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/freedom-information-and-privacy-act-foia/...

• ICE       https://www.ice.gov/foia/overview and  https://www.ice.gov/foia/request 

• CBP      https://www.cbp.gov/site-policy-notices/foia/faq-foia

• EOIR     https://www.justice.gov/eoir/freedom-information-act-foia and https://www.justice.gov/eoir/foia-submit%20a%20request 

3.  Make a list of all the contact you have had with those offices. Did they stop you, pick you up, detain you, or deport you?  Did you go to immigration court?  Did you apply for any immigration visas, refugee status or asylum?  Did anyone apply for you?  If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, you should talk to an immigration professional.

4. See if you can get legal permanent residence (a green card).

There are limited ways to get permanent residence: family-based, employment-based, diversity visa, refugee/asylee, money to invest, extraordinary talent or being a victim of crime/violence.

• Family-based means you have a spouse, adult child, parent or sometimes a sibling who can petition for you.

• Employment-based is when an employer petitions for you, after proving that no one else who is able to do the job is available.

• Every year, there is a lottery for people who want to get green cards.  Interested people submit their applications and a few lucky people are allowed to get green cards.  In order to enter the lottery you have to be outside the US or here legally.  Many people would be eligible to apply for this.  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-...

• People who enter the US already classified as refugees from persecution or who are granted asylum so they do not have to return to a country where they would be persecuted may apply for green cards after one year

• People who have a lot of money and plan to open a business that will provide employment to a certain number of people may be eligible to apply.

• People who have very unusual abilities may also apply, such as athletes, artists, and scientists.  

• People who were victims of certain crimes and cooperated with the police or were the spouse (child/stepchild) of someone through whom they got their immigration status who abused them. 

 

For more information you can check the following websites:

https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/eligibility-categories 

https://www.uscis.gov/non-uscis-forms (tourist visas, passports, etc.)

 

Public Charge

The Trump Administration proposed new rules for "public charge."  The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on October 12, 2018.

The proposed rule reverses longstanding public policy that draws a line between the nutrition, health, housing and other public benefits that may be used without causing public charge consequences, and those that may not. This rule dramatically expands the list of programs that could trigger a public charge determination with adverse immigration consequences. The Food Research & Action Center has produced a factsheet  to explain the potential impact.  The Immigration Advocates Network also has a helpful overview of the current public charge policy.

Many healthcare providers are concered that the new rule will increase poverty and harm health.  Immigrants can continue to access benefits now, but should continue to check this website for updates with respect to the consequences of accessing these benefits.

All new rulings require a public comment period.  That period ended in December, 2018. The Administration must review all of the public comments that were submitted before implementing the rule.

 

Referrals and Legal Resources 

List of Referrals in Massachusetts

Free Immigration Clinic in Cambridge 

 

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