Back To CourseUS Citizenship Study Guide
15 chapters | 140 lessons
Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
So, you want to come to the United States or you want to become a citizen. That's great! Now, what should you do to achieve this? Frankly, you will have to do a lot of paperwork. Immigration and obtaining citizenship in the United States can be a substantial bureaucratic process, so it's helpful to know exactly whom you'll be dealing with. The federal agency in charge of lawful immigration and citizenship is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS for short.
Throughout this process you'll probably need to contact them quite a few times, so some basic contact information will get you started:
If you don't feel ready to communicate with USCIS just yet, that's alright! There is plenty more information to give based on specific circumstances and activities, so read on.
You may need to locate a physical USCIS office, whether to visit personally or submit paperwork. The USCIS boasts over 200 offices worldwide, and there are many different kinds, but you are most likely to need either a field office or an international office.
A field office is a domestic center in the USA, and most states have one. This is where activities like interviews will occur. If you're applying from another country, you'll need to find an international office which provides services to US citizens and residents as well as some other people visiting or residing outside the US who need immigration help. You can find locations for both types of offices on the USCIS website in the ''Find a USCIS Office'' section.
If you are applying for a work permit using Form I-765 you may also need to find a specific field office because this form asks you to list an office associated with your case. On either your Employment Authorization Card or Notice of Action Form, there will be a long number with three letters in front of it. Those three letters are the codes for a specific office. For example, if the number on my card is CSC0000000000001, then the office working with me is the California Service Center (CSC).
Many applicants go through this application process with either a physical or developmental disability, and as part of the United States government, USCIS is mandated by law to provide accommodations to help these individuals. If you will need accommodations, you can do this by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283, or filing a request online (https://egov.uscis.gov/e-Request/Intro.do).
The request then goes to a field office (which you now know how to find!) and you can follow up with that field office directly if you need. It's important to remember that an accommodation is simply a modification to the application process, not an exception. You'll still be expected to fulfill the basic requirements of the process in some form or another.
Imagine that your application interview is fast approaching, you're excited, and then you catch the flu. What do you do? Well, USCIS promises that if you reschedule due to health or family emergencies, your interview will be rescheduled quickly and without any penalties. This being said, you have to take care of this process correctly. Failure to properly reschedule in advance could result in your application being labeled as abandoned, which means you would have to start the entire process all over again!
If you are sick, all you need to do is follow the instructions on your appointment notice paperwork to reschedule your appointment. The process sometimes changes, so following what your official USCIS paperwork says is the most reliable way to take care of it. They may ask for some kind of proof, so be prepared for that.
Sadly, most things are not free, so you have to pay for some of the services you get from USCIS. Some possible types of fees include application fees, filing fees, and immigrant fees, but there are many other options. Because USCIS fees change periodically, you should review the G-1055 Fee Schedule or call their service center at 1-800-375-5283 and ask for the fee information.
The exact instructions for most types of payment and who to contact should be listed on the paperwork you have from the USCIS. Let's look closer at the process to pay an Immigrant Fee.
Sometimes certain parts of the process can be paid by check, but you should be very sure before you try to use a check, because other fees are only payable by card or bank transfer. If you are submitting payment from outside the United States, contact the US Embassy or nearest international field office to see what forms of currency are accepted.
If you are having trouble with your USCIS Electronic Immigration System account, you can reach out on their contact form at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/contactus, too.
You've submitted everything, but you're nervous and you want to know what's going on with your application. Well, USCIS has an easy way to check your application status online. You will need your receipt number, so make sure to save that. Then, visit: https://egov.uscis.gov/casestatus/landing.do.
Through this site, you can find out where your application is in terms of the process, as well as its physical location. It's a good idea to check in on this regularly. USCIS handles a lot of applications, so you are going to be your own advocate. If it's been a while and your the application isn't moving, you can see where it is and call that office directly for find out what is happening and hopefully get it back on schedule. Don't call every day, though! This process takes time and you will need to exercise patience, too.
The application process for immigrating to the United States and seeking citizenship can be lengthy, but it doesn't have to be painful. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, has several ways to contact them for questions and concerns. Most of the numbers and field or international office locations can be easily found on their main website. We've been over quite a few specific issues in this lesson, but in general most questions can be addressed through the USCIS website at this address:
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Back To CourseUS Citizenship Study Guide
15 chapters | 140 lessons
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