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27 August 2015

#AskUSCIS During our First Twitter Office Hours

We’re always working on new and different ways to help you. One idea is Twitter office hours, which is set to launch Sept. 1 from 3-4 p.m. (Eastern). During Twitter office hours, our experts will answer your questions about the immigration process and working with us on other efforts. Here’s how it’ll work:
  • Follow @USCIS on Twitter.
  • Ask your question in a tweet (not a direct message) using the #AskUSCIS hashtag.
    Please note:
    • We can’t answer any case-specific questions or give updates on your case status. To check on your case anytime, enter a receipt number at Case Status Online.
    • Don’t post your A-Number, receipt number, Social Security number or any other personal information. Someone could use it to steal your identity.
  • We’ll answer as many questions as we can from 3-4 p.m.
  • Afterward, we’ll post a transcript of the questions and answers to this blog.
Most answers will include a link to specific pages on our website, uscis.gov, where you can get more information.

When you ask a question, it might be helpful to let us know what form you’re filing.

Remember: Don’t post your A-Number, receipt number, Social Security number or any other personally identifiable information on social media.

With Twitter office hours, we want to help you – either as you’re preparing forms or after you’ve filed. To help as many customers as possible, we won’t answer questions about policies or take questions from the media, government agencies or stakeholder organizations. Members of the media should contact the USCIS Press Office at (202) 272-1200.

We hope you can join us and find Twitter office hours helpful. If the idea is successful, we plan to hold these sessions on a regular basis. Let us know what you think in the comments!

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26 August 2015

A Centenarian and a New U.S. Citizen

(This post was originally posted on the Homeland Security blog.)

In a special ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office in Miami, Amanda Angelica Budino, a 100-year-old applicant from Buenos Aires, Argentina, recently took the Oath of Allegiance and became a naturalized U.S. Citizen. She has lived in the United States since 2001 and currently resides with her daughter and granddaughter in Miami. Mrs. Budino was the only member of her family who had not attained U.S. citizenship, and said she didn’t want to die without becoming an American citizen.


Amanda Angelica Budino stands with Acting Miami USCIS Field Office Director Conrad Zargoza.

USCIS officials were struck by her remarkable accomplishment. “I was honored to have interviewed Mrs. Budino regarding her naturalization application,” said Immigration Services Officer Iliam Espada, who helped her through the application process. “She was very warm, bright, and we here in Miami wish her all the best.”

Mrs. Budino was so excited during her naturalization interview that she answered every question while waving an American flag and saying “Let’s go, USA!” After taking the Oath, she said, “I am very thankful to this country, and I am very happy to become an American citizen.”

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20 August 2015

Reporter Juan Carlos Gutierrez Shares His Best Story

Television reporters do not always have the opportunity to revisit a story and give it an unexpected twist. This is not the case with news director and host of Entravisión’s Univision - Colorado, Juan Carlos Gutierrez, who in February this year had the opportunity to achieve his best story: complete his immigration story by becoming a U.S. citizen.

Like thousands of immigrants arriving in the United States annually, Gutierrez came to the United States on December 18, 2000, with a suitcase full of dreams about his personal and professional future. With an academic background in social communication and journalism obtained in his native Colombia, and with well-defined goals, this journalist didn’t have any second thoughts that his professional success in the communications field would be in this country. So, he faced with determination the challenges of immigration and after having worked in many fields not related to his educational background, he managed to get on track to achieve his dreams.

His experience as an immigrant had a positive impact on his professional life, allowing him to conduct journalistic stories on foreign immigration to the United States from a real perspective and firsthand. Thus, with the desire to help the migrant community, mostly Latin American, he embarked on the task of showing immigrants’ lives and their immigration experiences as pristine as they were, leading him to achieve several Emmy Awards for his journalism work.

However, in his personal life he experienced the lack of information and myths that many in the immigrant community face. Today, Gutiérrez has a new story to tell: the true path towards naturalization in hopes of demystifying the myths associated with this path.

Describing his feelings on becoming a U.S. citizen, this award-winning journalist says that after residing in the United States for 15 years, having become a U.S. citizen is something ”very special, and incredible [because] thousands of migrants entering and leaving the country often do not become even legal permanent residents."

For him, having had the honor to become a citizen is something that left him “speechless [because] all those years of effort were reflected in that very moment."

It is precisely this effort he made – and made by the majority of immigrants – that Gutiérrez does not want immigrants to lose because of their fear about the path to U.S. citizenship. "I would tell everyone [the immigrants] that if they want to become citizens, then do it. Please don’t think twice; it is a fairly easy process," he said. "Many people have misinformed immigrants at the community level, saying that citizenship is a difficult process that only some can achieve. I tell them not; everyone can achieve it."

Gutierrez describes the process of obtaining citizenship as the easiest part for a person who emigrated from another country. "Leaving behind their roots and their culture, that's the hard part. Becoming a U.S. citizen is the easy part. Many people believe the myth that it is a difficult process and it takes time to complete it. It isn’t really. They do not know how accessible are all forms and how understanding are the immigration officers. The key is to start the process. It's something I wanted to do because it was what I owed to this country, to then be part of the democracy and vote, and get the benefits of being a citizen."

With this his new mission to disseminate how easy the process of naturalization is – it only took him six months – the award-winning journalist wants immigrants "to understand that being citizens opens many more doors for everyone" and he wants all the immigrants who see his story to "feel as it is a reflection of their story and choose to follow [my] path and become citizens."

You can watch the documented immigration history of this communications professional in the Sueño Cumplido (Dream Fulfilled) report in Spanish, which consists of two parts and is produced by the staff of Noticias Univisión Colorado.

For more information about the naturalization process and to obtain USCIS educational resources, visit our Citizenship Resource Center.

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18 August 2015

USCIS Recognized for Language Access Outreach

USCIS has long recognized the need to ensure that our customers have meaningful access to our services, regardless of their language ability.  We are proud to be a leader in our multi-lingual efforts to serve the diverse range of our customer base.

Aug. 11 was the 15th anniversary of a presidential order intended to give people with limited English proficiency (LEP) meaningful access to federal government services. Marking the anniversary, Megan H. Mack, officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at the Department of Homeland Security, recognized USCIS’ multilingual outreach efforts. She presented a certificate to the Customer Service and Public Engagement Directorate (CSPED) in “recognition of exemplary work and outstanding contributions to implementation of Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency.” CSPED accepted the award on behalf of USCIS.

Executive Order 13166 directs each federal agency to “examine the services it provides and develop and implement a system by which LEP individuals can meaningfully access those services consistent with, and without unduly burdening the fundamental mission of the agency.”

The Department of Homeland Security’s Language Access Plan requires each DHS component to draft its own plan. DHS approved the USCIS plan, and the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Office will roll out all of the completed DHS plans this fall.  

USCIS regularly interacts with customers in languages other than English through translated materials, multilingual public engagements, the National Customer Service Center toll-free line and in-person appointments at our offices.  We have held in-person and virtual engagements in Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Chinese-Mandarin and we are hosting our first Cantonese engagement on Wednesday, August 19th, in partnership with several local community viewing parties across the country.

In addition to our several in-language videos, our USCIS Director León Rodríguez has also created videos in English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Creole, and recently announced the new USCIS Spanish Facebook page and the new home of the USCIS Compás blog.

As part of our commitment, we also routinely produce educational and outreach materials in multiple languages and publish them to the Multilingual Resource Center. Currently, the Multilingual Resource Center offers materials translated into 24 languages. Some of these materials include translated press releases, Web alerts of USCIS announcements, How Do I guides and other informational brochures and presentations.

USCIS appreciates the recent recognition we received from DHS.  We are especially grateful to both our tremendous workforce and community partners who have helped us in our multilingual outreach efforts.  We are proud of the work we’ve done so far, and look forward to improving the experience for our limited English proficient customers.

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10 August 2015

Watch Out for Scams Against Immigrants

Do you or a relative want to apply or have applied for an immigration benefit? The immigration process can sometimes be complex. You or your family may have questions about how to apply for an immigration benefit or take any measure regarding your case with USCIS. Knowing who to ask for immigration help is critical because the wrong help can hurt.

Immigration scams are real and USCIS is combatting fraud by educating you about detecting and protecting yourself from dishonest practices.

Top Tips for Avoiding Scams


Do not give important personal or financial information over the phone to anyone you don’t know or contacts you unexpectedly.

The official ways to communicate with USCIS are by:
  • Visiting uscis.gov 
  • Scheduling an appointment at a field office by visiting infopass.uscis.gov.
  • Calling the National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.
If you need legal advice on immigration matters, make sure that the person you rely on is authorized to give you legal advice. Only an attorney or an accredited representative working for a Board of Immigration Appeals-recognized organization can give you legal advice.

The Internet, newspapers, radio, community bulletin boards and storefronts are filled with advertisements offering immigration help. Not all of this information is from attorneys and accredited representatives. There is a lot of information that comes from organizations and individuals who are not authorized to give you legal advice, such as “notarios” and other unauthorized representatives.

Common Scams


Do not be fooled by unscrupulous people that want to scam you and rip you off.

Watch out for possible immigration scams. Be careful if:
  • A "notario público" in the United States offers you legal services related to immigration. In many Spanish-speaking countries "notarios" are lawyers with special credentials. However, in the United States, "notarios públicos" are individuals authorized to witness the signing of important documents. They are not authorized to provide legal services related to immigration.
  • Someone calls you posing as a USCIS officer or another government officer and asks for your personal information (such as Social Security number, passport number or alien number), tells you that you have problems with your immigration records and asks for payment to fix your records. USCIS representatives will never call you to ask for money for training, products or forms
  • Someone in a local business "guarantees" that you can get a visa, Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) or work permit faster if you pay him a fee. USCIS has no exceptions to the normal processing times and nobody can obtain these services faster than the usual process.
  • A website ending in “.com” claims to be affiliated with the government and asks you to pay to get USCIS forms. Never pay for USCIS forms; they are free! To download free forms go to uscis.gov or uscis.gov/es. That way you can also be sure that you are getting the most recent versions of our forms.
  • Someone calls you claiming that you won a diversity visa. The only way to get a diversity visa is through a government application process. The State Department, which manages the diversity visas, does not call or send emails related to the diversity visa lottery. You can get information about the Diversity Visa Program on the State Department’s travel.state.gov page. You can also get information about avoiding scams against immigrants on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Always get the right help from USCIS, a community organization or an authorized legal service providers. Do not become a victim of immigration scams.

For more information on how USCIS is protecting you from fraudsters, and how to find authorized legal services, visit our Avoid Scams Web pages.

17 July 2015

Museums and Libraries Working to Promote Citizenship

From July 1st to July 4th, USCIS held over 50 naturalization ceremonies across the country. Over a third of the ceremonies took place at either a library or museum. Occasions like these ask us to remember the value held by these historic sites. For more, check out the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ blog, titled “Celebrating Citizenship at Museums andLibraries.”

09 July 2015

USCIS fortalece su compromiso con la comunidad hispana

Ahora Compás cuenta con un nuevo hogar en la página USCIS en Español. Vea el contenido de Compás en: blog-es.uscis.gov.

 
 

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26 June 2015

A Family Story Tells a Bigger Tale of Immigration History

In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, our director, León Rodríguez, shares his family’s immigration story in this short video.

 
As he puts it, their story represents almost a textbook example of immigration history and issues. Three of his four grandparents were Sephardic (Spanish speaking) Jews from Turkey who moved to Cuba in the 1920s. Later, his maternal grandfather – who worked as a shoemaker -- devoted himself to assisting European refugees. “My mother often talks about my grandfather running out in the middle of the night actually to greet a ship that had arrived, carrying refugees who were fleeing Nazi Europe,” he says.
 
Then, in the 1960s, after Fidel Castro came to power, his family decided to move to the United States. There were immigration challenges. For instance, since some relatives were Turkish nationals, their immigration was counted against the Turkish quota. “There was a lot of back and forth as to how the Cuban admission process was going to be run in that period, so initially my maternal grandparents had some difficulty migrating,” Director Rodríguez says. His parents were admitted as refugees. “In fact, I've been able to look at some records from that period and I've been able to see actually the refugee screening that was done on of my father. He was actually detained for a short while, while they screened him in order to determine if he could be admitted as a refugee to the United States.”

In the video, Director Rodríguez credits his grandfather’s work on behalf of refugees with helping to inspire his own professional interest in immigration. In fact, an immigrant advocacy group whose board his grandfather served on in the 1940s is today a partner of USCIS. “If you look at any given immigration file, every one of those files is the story of some family's hopes and dreams, and in some cases, a story of a family's sufferings,” he says. “So to be able to … lead the people that shepherd those families, for me, is the absolute professional peak.”