Naturalization is hopefully the last time an immigrant will deal with USCIS. This is the final step an individual will take to become a United States Citizen. USCIS deals with Naturalizations in a different manner. For one, the process for Naturalization is speedy, usually within 3 months. This is beneficial for the client because they have waited many years to finally become a US citizen. Secondly, USCIS accepts Medical Certification Disability Exemption. This allows the immigrant to not take the civics test due to a disability. Many immigrants struggle with the civics test due to a language barrier or a physical disability and this exempts them from taking the test. Once the forms are all submitted, the client must attend a Naturalization Interview. The interview is usually generic and short, unless there is any criminal charges or discrepancies on the dates in the United States. If the interview goes smoothly and the case is approved, the client attends a naturalization ceremony and is sworn in as a United States Citizen. This is the most rewarding feeling for our office especially if we dealt with their whole immigration process. One thing our clients enjoy the most is that they no longer have to deal with USCIS or the stress that comes with their system. It is a bitter sweet moment that our office has successfully gotten citizenship for a client, but we know that there is many more clients to follow the same footsteps.
Nothing in life is free, and the same goes for USCIS. Most applications require a specific fee that must be included with the completed application. With each form that you can download from USCIS, it has instructions and informs the immigrant of the filing fee associated with the form. USCIS is very particular on the filing fees and how they are paid. With most forms, other than electronic filing, the fee must be paid by personal check, cashiers check, or money order. The fee’s cannot be paid in separate payments and the full amount must all be on one of the acceptable forms of payment. USCIS will reject the application if the fees are not appropriate. Most people are very surprised when they find out the price of an application. USCIS had raised the application fees for some forms on November 23, 2010. There has not been an increase in fees since then, but USCIS may raise the fees in the future. I understand that fees must be paid to keep USCIS running, but most application fees seem inappropriately priced. It can be hard for families to gather up the money to pay for these fees, so USCIS does offer a fee waiver that can be included with each form. The problem with the fee waiver, is your family has to be in extreme poverty to have the fee waiver approved. Also, not all applications accept fee waivers which can be costly for some families. I believe that USCIS should work on lowering application fees because nobody wants to start a new life in a new country with no money in their pockets.
Most Non-US Citizens have to report a change of address within 10 business days of moving. USCIS implemented a new electronic filing system to file a change of address form (AR-11) more easy. The problem with the system is you receive a receipt number when updating the new address but many times USCIS does not update their records. You are instructed to call USCIS upon completion of the Change of Address online, but in a way it defeats the purpose of filing the online change of address. Many times, clients do not receive correspondence from immigration after completing the change of address. This can cause a delay in the case because the client misses information that USCIS has sent. In theory, the e-file could benefit USCIS, but there seems to be a glitch in their system. The best option for doing a change of address is to file it online, send in a paper copy of form AR-11, and notify immigration by phone that the immigrant has moved. It is a lot of work to notify USCIS of an address change, but the client will be up-to-date on any correspondence sent to them.
Infopass is one of the best things that USCIS has to offer. An infopass is an appointment with an officer at the field office that has your case. An infopass is much more useful than calling USCIS, because the officer at the field office has the physical file with them and can answer questions more directly. An infopass appointment can also expedite a case by speaking with an officer. The officer sees that the case and will point out any errors or give an answer as to why the case hasn’t been processed yet. The biggest benefit from an infopass is that when an officer sees the case and notices that everything is good to go, they usually schedule an interview within a month of the infopass. The file may have been backlogged and no officer has looked at the file for months, so an infopass gives that extra push to get the case finished. The infopass can only be done with the applicant, petitioner, or legal representative. Since our clients retain us, we go to the infopass and the client appreciates the results. The only problem with infopasses are that appointments fill up fast so you may have to wait a week or two to speak with an officer. Other than that, infopasses are a huge asset to USCIS.
One of the hardest times for a family obtaining a visa is the interview process. The interviews themselves are scheduled fairly quickly, but the waiver for unlawful status was a nightmare. Immigrants that were approved for a visa at their consulate interview after residing in the United States for more than one year, had to go through a waiver process. The waiver process is what eliminates the bar for being in the US illegally and allows the immigrant to rejoin their family. The waiver process must show a hardship to a US citizenship if the immigrant was not permitted to go back to the United States. The normal process for a waiver outside of the US could take months to process. This was very hard financially and emotionally for families. With Secretary Janet Napolitano’s memorandum on January 2, 2013, waiver interview are now able to be conducted in the United States, before the immigrant attends their consulate interview. This eliminates the time apart from each other for families and is a smoother process than before. Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers are another huge step in this countries immigration policies. Nobody wants to be away from their loved ones and provisional waivers allow the immigrant to only be out of the country for the consulate interview.
With the bill passing the Senate with flying colors, it may die out in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, it is unconstitutional in the aspect of additional tax. Only the House of Representatives can generate a bill with additional taxes. The bill may still have a chance, but if it fails, the House of Representatives will have other options for undocumented immigrants.