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21 November 2016

USCIS Participates in NAFSA International Educators Conference

A report just released by the Institute of International Education shows that U.S. colleges and universities enrolled more than one million international students for the first time during the 2015-16 academic year. The total was up seven percent from the year before and represented five percent of all students at U.S. institutions. Fourteen percent of international students participated in Optional Practical Training (OPT), many of them in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) professions.

Earlier this month, Magteld La Bella, Branch Chief of External Communications and Coordination at Service Center Operations, Terry Scott, Management and Program Analyst at Service Center Operations, and Michelle Young, Students’ Portfolio Manager at Service Center Operations, had the opportunity to share information about the new STEM OPT rule during the NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in New Orleans. Joining by teleconference, they also discussed F-1 and M-1 visas; filing tips for Form I-765, Applications for Employment Authorization, and Form I-539, Applications to Change/Extend Nonimmigrant Status; and the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) Program from a Designated School Official’s perspective.

The 200 participants also had questions about topics such as:
Above: Magteld La Bella and Terry Scott with Service Center Operations at USCIS

10 November 2016

USCIS Grant Program Reaches Out to Smaller Organizations

Over the last seven years, our Citizenship and Integration Grant Program has helped more than 156,000 lawful permanent residents prepare to apply for citizenship through more than 300 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Recently, we welcomed representatives from the 46 community-based organizations funded under the fiscal year 2016 grant program to Washington, D.C., for a two-day orientation session. Among them: 10 organizations (listed below) that were selected to receive funding under a newly created grant opportunity called Citizenship Instruction.

This new opportunity is designed to assist nonprofit groups in establishing citizenship instruction programs or expanding the quality and reach of existing programs. Through this effort, we’re hoping to expand the availability of citizenship classes for permanent residents, particularly classes offered by small, community-based organizations that have not previously received grant funding from USCIS.

Each of the grant recipients has substantial experience providing literacy and English as a second language instruction to adult immigrants. Our goal is to transfer that experience and knowledge into robust and effective citizenship education programs by providing both funding and intensive support and technical assistance. We look forward to collaborating with these organizations as they work to support aspiring citizens in communities across the country.

The new grant recipients represent locations from Vermont to Hawaii, serving a highly diverse pool of individuals. The groups range from public school systems to public libraries, community- and faith-based organizations to traditional adult education and literacy organizations, as well as three mutual assistance associations. They embody the strong community spirit that has supported the integration of generation after generation of immigrants in America.

For more information on our FY 2016 grant recipients, including those funded under this new initiative, please visit the grant program section of the Citizenship Resource Center.

Organization
Location
Award
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York
New York, NY
$100,000.00
The Chaldean Community Foundation
Sterling Heights, MI
$100,000.00
Chinese Community Center, Inc.
Houston, TX
$100,000.00
Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services
Columbus, OH
$100,000.00
Irish International Immigrant Center, Inc.
Boston, MA
$100,000.00
Literacy Chicago
Chicago, IL
$96,000.00
Literacy New Jersey, Inc.
Edison, NJ
$100,000.00
Pacific Gateway Center
Honolulu, HI
$97,000.00
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Inc.
Colchester, VT
$100,000.00
Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay
Oakland, CA
$100,000.00

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11 October 2016

Summary of #AskUSCIS Twitter Town Hall on October 4

On Oct. 4, our customer service staff hosted their monthly USCIS Twitter Office Hours and answered your questions.

This month, as a part of National Customer Service Week, we were joined by the Department of State (@travelgov) to answer questions regarding visas and consular affairs, and to help differentiate between their services and those offered by USCIS.

Below you can find all of the questions and answers that we tweeted. You can also find these on Twitter by searching #AskUSCIS.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted questions. We look forward to engaging with you during future installments of USCIS Twitter Office Hours.

Q1: @MaherAlZubaidi my status is changed, but did not I receive my card for TPS ?! #AskUSCIS

A1: @MaherAlZubaidi You can start by checking your country page to see if there's an automatic extension: https://t.co/vXL9OAVZx5 #AskUSCIS

Q2: @bonedatt Why is there limit to # visas available for siblings of U. S citizens intending to migrate to the U.S.? #AskUSCIS

A2: @bonedatt Limited # of immigrant visas each year is part of US law - limits by visa type & per country -NVC #AskUSCIS

Q3: @AlifseYeh How long does it take from I-130 petition approval to interview? How to tell priority date by receipt no. #AskUSCIS

A3: @AlifseYeh For visa interview, it varies: how long it takes you to submit docs, is case current, # people waiting -NVC #AskUSCIS (1/3)

A3: @AlifseYeh NVC reviews cases only after receiving ALL fees/DS260s/civil & financial documents -NVC #AskUSCIS (2/3)

A3: @AlifseYeh Priority dates are on the Form I-797 you receive from USCIS. It is usually the date petition was filed -NVC #AskUSCIS (3/3)

Q4: @abegailmartin12 Can I use the G-1450 form if I reside in Guam? #AskUSCIS

A4: @abegailmartin12 You can file the G-1450 along with your Form N-400. Check where to file here: https://t.co/zmN1cLJ4tK #AskUSCIS

Q5: @HackyMoto Why is the USCIS processing time website so far behind (2 months at the time of posting) and not real time? #AskUSCIS

A5: @HackyMoto We must validate processing times before posting. To see most recent info for your case: https://t.co/EhZiOhv8gu #AskUSCIS

Q6: @bonedatt Why do you guys charge so much to process an application? It's like you're selling immigration status. #AskUSCIS

A6: @bonedatt Fees based on “Cost of Service Model.” @travelgov looks at actual cost of staff/supplies/systems to set fees –NVC #AskUSCIS

Q7: @navsihag my question is what is the current status of my petition & how long I have to wait for my visa? #AskUSCIS

A7:@navsihag Please delete case # on your post. Reach out to https://t.co/dct4WPgwvI or call 603-334-0557 so we can help. -NVC #AskUSCIS

Q8:@kassala67 The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum processes applications for all visa type family sponsored F2A? #AskUSCIS

A8: @kassala67 Yes @USEmbassyKRT processes Immigrant Visas, including F2A. Learn more at https://t.co/1QPRHCXFer -NVC #AskUSCIS

Q9: @jayesh_patel45 Can  NVC take petitioner's email prior to receiving  I-130 case from USCIS to notify when case was received? #AskUSCIS

A9: @jayesh_patel45​ No, NVC doesn’t have a case file for you until we receive your approved petition from USCIS –NVC #AskUSCIS

Q10: @kamidaju  How long does it take to call for interview once you have done your fingerprint?​ #AskUSCIS

A10: @kamidaju It depends on which form you filed. You can check processing times here: https://go.usa.gov/cyyUe  #AskUSCIS

Q11: @MatthewHoppock Why not clear up the visa number backlog by using the visa numbers that were unused in years past? #AskUSCIS

A11: @MatthewHoppock The INA imposes the fiscal year limit.- NVC #AskUSCIS

Q12:  @ilananbu My H1B EA in processing over 5 mnths and till its approved we cant review our DL can something be done?​ #AskUSCIS

A12:@ilananbu DL requirements vary, check state motor vehicle agency extensions. For processing times: https://go.usa.gov/3aFbA  #AskUSCIS

Q13: From Facebook - What's the normal time of NVC step completion after I 130 case approval from USCIS? #AskUSCIS

A13: From Facebook - It varies: how long it takes you to submit docs, is case current, # of people waiting. –NVC #AskUSCIS

Q14: @dcmullins I-824 is approved for VAWA derivatives to consular process, how long till NVC/consulate reach out to atty? #AskUSCIS

A14: @dcmullins The VSC handles VAWA cases. Due to sensitivity, please call 1-800-375-5283 to discuss further. #AskUSCIS

Q15: @edemkdgh​ Are qualified winners of dv lottery required at a visa interview to have ties to their home country? #AskUSCIS

A15: @edemkdgh No. Since DV applicants are intending immigrants to the US they are presumed to not have ties. -NVC #AskUSCIS

Q16: @Samarz76 My I-824 on an approved petition has been under process since April , NVC has not contacted me ,is it normal​ #AskUSCIS

A16:@Samarz76 If I-824 is beyond processing times submit an e-request to check status: https://go.usa.gov/3aFfw  #AskUSCIS (1/2)

A16: @Samarz76 Once I-824 is approved by USCIS, NVC will contact you. #AskUSCIS (2/2)

Q17: @loveisonlylife Does Mumbai consulate will consider divorce decree from USA during my immigration process. #AskUSCIS

A17: @loveisonlylife Yes, if you were divorced in USA @USAndMumbai will accept US Divorce Decree for immigration purposes. –NVC #AskUSCIS

Q18: @AnugunjT about to apply i-130 for my mom who's been US on B2 visa last 2 months. Will it be seen as misuse of NIV? #AskUSCIS

A18: @AnugunjT Based on this, it won't be seen as misuse of NIV, unless CBP granted entry for less than this amount of time-NVC #AskUSCIS

Q19: @fsaleh05 Thanks for giving this opportunity, I would like to ask about the processing time of EB5 I526. #AskUSCIS

A19:@fsaleh05 No set NVC timeframe. Self-paced process: you submit fees/docs, NVC reviews them, wait in line for interview –NVC #AskUSCIS

Q20: @herrerajoha I went for my fingerprint apt for N-400. Still waiting for  interview. How long does it take for the interview #AskUSCIS

A20:@herrerajoha You will receive an interview notice after all initial steps on your case are complete. http://go.usa.gov/xKuPU  #AskUSCIS

Q21: @nanspri what is Uscis Alien Number? how can i find mine? is it  a Unique number assigned&never change for an immigrant? #AskUSCIS

A21: @nanspri Correct! The A-number is a unique case number for immigrants. You can find it on a Green Card or work permit. #AskUSCIS

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06 October 2016

Summary of #AskUSCIS Twitter Town Hall on September 22

On Sept. 22, our customer service staff hosted their monthly USCIS Twitter Office Hours and answered your questions.

During this event we were able to answer many common questions that we know our customers and stakeholders have. Of course, we received more questions than we had time to address in an hour.

Below you can find all of the questions and answers that we tweeted. You can also find these on Twitter by searching #AskUSCIS.

Thanks to everyone who tweeted questions. We look forward to engaging with you during future installments of USCIS Twitter Office Hours.

Q1: @SergioBasoria My DACA case has been on review for more than 130 days now and I still haven't gotten an answer #AskUSCIS
A1: @SergioBasoria If your #DACA renewal request is pending more than 105 days you can contact us here: http://my.uscis.gov/account/needhelp … #AskUSCIS
Q2: @justantz my brother applied for I-130 immigrant visa, under initial review when will change to decision status? #AskUSCIS
A2: @justantz If your case is outside of the standard processing time, submit a case inquiry here: https://go.usa.gov/3aFfw  #AskUSCIS
Q3: @N_Bala1106 What is the time frame to process the RFE at CSC center. My RFE submitted a month back but still the same status. #AskUSCIS
A3: @N_Bala1106 For estimated processing times: https://go.usa.gov/3aFbA  You can also submit an inquiry: https://go.usa.gov/3aFfw  #AskUSCIS
Q4: @jan_desjardins Can anyone explain the changes to the I 601 A waiver from 8/29? Is it different than 2013? #AskUSCIS
A4: @jan_desjardins Yes. Final rule expands eligibility to certain family of lawful permanent residents. https://go.usa.gov/cCxKk  #AskUSCIS
Q5: @RabiRabisharma What is the next step after approval of I-130? (I am waiting for mail) #AskUSCIS
A5: @RabiRabisharma Your next steps after I-130 approval depends on status and place of residence. See http://go.usa.gov/xKePJ  #AskUSCIS
Q6: @gabotamayo how long is the sponsor liable for the new legal permanent resident? #AskUSCIS
A6: @gabotamayo Sponsor is responsible until the immigrant becomes a US citizen or has 40 quarters of work http://go.usa.gov/xKemR  #AskUSCIS
Q7: @robin_arakan What are the 1 800 numbers, please? And can I use them to have someone looked into? #AskUSCIS
A7: @robin_arakan Our customer service # is 1-800-375-5283. You can also contact us here: https://go.usa.gov/SPJd  #AskUSCIS. (1/2)

A7: @robin_arakan The ICE HSI tip line is 1-866-347-2423, or you can visit http://go.usa.gov/xKemK . #AskUSCIS (2/2)
Q8: @15_kay how much notice do you give for spouse visa interviews? #AskUSCIS
A8: @15_kay For info on fiancé/fiancée visas please visit http://go.usa.gov/xKemH  #AskUSCIS
Q9: @caylee_ramos how can we check if the company offering visa sponsor is not a scam or on your red list? #AskUSCIS
A9: @caylee_ramos For info on scams and how to avoid them, please visit http://go.usa.gov/cuz2d  #AskUSCIS #AvoidScams
Q10 : @melusineregulus I just wanted to say thank you for all you have done. My hubby will be naturalized the 30th & I'm so proud. #AskUSCIS
A10 : @melusineregulus Congrats to you & your husband! Thanks for the shout-out! Please post photos w/ #newUScitizen when he naturalizes.
Q11: @adamfairholm Was http://myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov  replaced? I used to be able to check status there #AskUSCIS
A11: @adamfairholm To check your case status, please visit https://go.usa.gov/SETz  #AskUSCIS
Q12: @Mohsin_Mahmood What's estimated wait time for F4? When is my priority date expected to become current? #AskUSCIS
A12: @Mohsin_Mahmood Wait times are difficult to predict. See Visa Bulletin for processing dates. http://go.usa.gov/xKemh  #AskUSCIS
Q13: @yunusemrecakall My H1b visa does not approved yet. When is due date of it?#AskUSCIS
A13: @yunusemrecakall You can enter your receipt number and check your case status at http://go.usa.gov/SETz  #AskUSCIS (1/2)

A13: @yunusemrecakall You can also check processing times once a month here: http://go.usa.gov/3aFbA  #AskUSCIS (2/2)
Q14: @falconboy4u it's been over 110 days since I submitted my RFE in Vermont office is there any way I can track my application?
A14: @falconboy4u To track your application, please visit: https://go.usa.gov/SETz  #AskUSCIS

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22 September 2016

To the Newest American Citizens: This Land is Your Land

(This article was originally posted on the U.S. Department of the Interior Blog.)

By Michael Connor, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

Recently, as part of commemorating 100-years of America’s National Park Service, I had the pleasure of welcoming 25 new U.S. citizens at a special naturalization ceremony held at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

Deputy Secretary Mike Connor speaking at a naturalization ceremony at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland. Photo by Interior.

On August 25, the actual 100th birthday of the National Park Service, 450 individuals across the United States took the Oath of Allegiance and became America’s newest citizens. Along with their family and friends, these 450 Americans celebrated their special day at several different National Park Service sites, including Fort McHenry (where I had the pleasure to congratulate everyone in person), Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park.

Since 2006, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and National Park Service have partnered to welcome thousands of new citizens in parks around the country and celebrate their new status in our country’s beautiful landmarks. In this National Park Service Centennial year, USCIS and NPS will host at least 100 ceremonies in parks to recognize the importance of these locations to our newest Americans.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has hosted several naturalization ceremonies. Photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

These ceremonies have brought America’s next generation of immigrants to the natural, historical and cultural treasures that tell the American story. The diversity of the parks extend from iconic wonders like Everglades National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crater Lake National Park, to significant landmarks such as Faneuil Hall in Boston National Historical Park, Ellis Island, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

National parks began with the idea that America’s greatest natural treasures belong to everyone and forever need to be preserved.

America’s great outdoors are all-encompassing: from deep blue lakes and jagged mountain peaks to hearty grasslands and arid deserts. The American people are just as diverse, bringing unique experiences to these unique places. Our newest citizens add to that diversity and carry with them their own stories as they explore these places.

New citizens celebrating at a naturalization ceremony at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Photo by Emily Brouwer, National Park Service.

As we begin our second century of the National Park Service, we also pause to recognize that our public lands and national parks will continue to thrive only if Americans of all backgrounds care deeply about them. As the newest Americans were sworn in, they now join the rest of their fellow Americans as owners of these public lands.

As owners and stewards of our nation’s public lands, we all bear responsibility to preserve and protect these special sites. At Fort McHenry, we paused to recognize the significance of the site that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a song played by the fife and drum team during the ceremony. For all citizens new and old, it is important to get out and explore these places that help to tell the history of our country. From the Stonewall Inn in New York that helps tell the ongoing struggle for civil rights, to Glacier National Park that shows how climate change is continuing to impact natural treasures, all Americans should see and experience the sites that are special to you. As we like to say, everyone should get out and #FindYourPark (#Encuentra Tu Parque)!

Our public lands tell the story of this great nation and of its diverse people. It’s up to all of us to inspire the next generation - and people of all backgrounds - to become passionate about conservation and these incredible places.

Former President Jimmy Carter stands with new citizens at Jimmy Carter National Historic Site. Photo by National Park Service.

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21 September 2016

Welcoming New U.S. Citizens at Angel Island

On Sept. 12, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) welcomed 19 new U.S. citizens at the historic Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. Angel Island is often referred to as the "Ellis Island of the West." It was used as an immigrant processing station from 1910-1940, primarily for immigrants from Asia, including more than 175,000 Chinese immigrants.

Some immigrants literally carved their feelings into the walls while waiting for their interviews - writing poetry into the wooden walls of the barracks. The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation was created to continue preservation and educational efforts at the site.

USCIS Chief of Staff Juliet K. Choi administered the Oath of Allegiance to the citizenship candidates.

Above: USCIS Chief of Staff Juliet K. Choi administers the Oath of Allegiance

In her remarks, she noted Angel Island’s place in American history:

From 1910 to 1940, immigration officers on Angel Island processed around one million Asian immigrants, many of them who spent months or even years waiting to be admitted to the United States.

Asian immigrants have a longer history in this country than many people realize. The first recorded Asian Americans were a group of Filipino sailors who settled in Louisiana as early as 1763.

In the 1800s, Chinese and Japanese immigrants came in larger numbers, many of them to work in mining or on the transcontinental railroad in the West.

Although this nation benefited from their labor, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders - or AAPIs - were not always welcome in the United States. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act - the first law in the U.S. to deny immigration to a specific ethnic group.

The Angel Island Immigration Station was built specifically to monitor the flow of Chinese immigrants entering the country after this exclusionary law went into effect.

When Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924, it included the Asian Exclusion Act. This Act established quotas limiting "undesirable" immigration from Asia and barred Asian immigrants from naturalizing.

It wasn't until 1952 that Congress nullified all anti-Asian exclusion laws and allowed Asian immigrants to become U.S. citizens, and it wasn’t until 1965 that the race and nationality-based quotas were lifted.

That change led to a distinct increase in the number of Asians immigrating to the United States.
Attendees then heard special remarks from Felicia Lowe, an award-winning producer, director, and writer.  Ms. Lowe is herself a descendant of Angel Island detainees, and has been heavily involved in the preservation of the Angel Island Immigration Station.  Among her many works is “Carved in Silence,” a documentary about the experiences of Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island.

After the ceremony, the new Americans toured the facilities on the island. There are hiking and biking trails, campsites, a snack bar and limited tram service.

Angel Island is the largest natural island in the San Francisco Bay. The earliest inhabitants were the Coast Miwok people. Other local Native American tribes hunted and gathered food there. Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala stopped for supplies while he was mapping San Francisco Bay.

Camp Reynolds was established on the island in 1863. In 1900, the name was changed to Fort McDowell. The fort played an active role during both world wars. When the Army no longer needed the post, the flag was lowered for the last time on August 28, 1946.

But on September 12, the flag was flying proudly as USCIS welcomed those that came to Angel Island as citizens of different nations, but left bound in their commonality as new U.S. citizens.

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15 September 2016

Check Out Our New USCIS Instagram Account!

We are fortunate to meet amazing immigrants every day and share in their immigration journeys. Now we have a unique opportunity to share their stories with the world using Instagram. Today, we launched our Instagram account under the handle @USCIS and @USCIS_ES (Spanish version) and will share photos, graphics and videos to highlight our vital work.

Our  Instagram handle joins our popular Facebook and Twitter accounts. Instagram differs from Facebook and Twitter by being visually focused with photos and minimal captions. Before the launch, our customers had already embraced Instagram, posting more than 10,000 #newUScitizen photos, which have become a major source of photos for our Facebook albums and Twitter collages. These great images capture the emotions of the immigrant experience and add color and warmth to the dialogue about our nation’s immigration system and the important work of our agency.

To garner attention for the new account and engage our audience at a meaningful time - Constitution Day and Citizenship Day - we will immediately start a social media campaign on Instagram. Beginning on Sept. 16, we will post photos and captions using the hashtag #MeetUS. This campaign will feature photos of individual new citizens at naturalization ceremonies across the country with short captions quoting them about their American experience. The #MeetUS campaign will continue posting several stories a week to showcase how immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation.

Be sure to follow @USCIS and @USCIS_ES on Instagram!

13 September 2016

Scam Alert – Imposter Calls!

If someone claiming to be a government official or law enforcement officer calls making threats such as deportation, beware! Hang up and report it!

Here’s How it Works

A number appears on your caller ID that may look like a legitimate government number. When you answer, the person on the phone poses as a USCIS or other government official or law enforcement officer. The scammer (or scammers) will say that there is a problem with your application or additional information is required to continue the immigration process. Then, they will often ask for sensitive personal and financial information, demand payment, and threaten you with deportation, arrest, or other negative consequences if you do not comply.  

The scammer will then order victims to make a payment - and will often order them to go to a nearby bank or store and withdraw money or purchase a prepaid card, gift card, voucher, money order or make some other wire transfer, money exchange, payment or withdrawal. (Note that the scammers are often able to direct victims to nearby banks or stores by using online maps to study the area in which a victim resides.)

If you receive a call like that, hang up immediately. 

We will never ask for any form of payment over the phone or in an email. If we need payment, we will mail a letter on official stationery requesting payment. Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be a USCIS official. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not to provide details about your immigration application in any public area.

If you have been a victim of this telephone or email scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission at http://1.usa.gov/1suOHSS. If you receive a suspicious email or voice message and are not sure if it is a scam, forward it to the USCIS webmaster at uscis.webmaster@uscis.dhs.gov. We will review the messages received and share with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Visit the Avoid Scams Initiative at uscis.gov/avoidscams for more information on common scams and other important tips.

If you have a question about your immigration record, please call the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or make an InfoPass appointment at https://my.uscis.gov/appointment. You can also use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application process.