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31 August 2016

E-Verify Things to Know

E-Verify recently added more resources and features for employers and individuals.

Case Creation Screens. We have used some of our users’ ideas on E-Verify Listens to match E-Verify case creation screens with the Form I-9 order of fields. This makes entering cases much faster.

Fact Sheets. Our fact sheets for international students explain the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, and E-Verify processes; how they can avoid a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC); and what to do if they receive a TNC. We’ve also provided a fact sheet for designated school officials in assisting those students.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities Video. This year we added closed captions in 9 additional foreign languages to the Employee Rights and Responsibilities video. We now offer 22 versions of this popular 6-minute video. To view the foreign language captions, please ensure the “cc” (closed caption) button is ”ON” in the video toolbar.

New Designs. Log in to E-Verify to see the new design. Also, visit the I-9 Central, E-Verify and myE-Verify websites on your mobile device to see that they automatically adjust to any mobile device screen size. Plus, selected users are testing the new E-Verify mobile app by creating and managing cases on their iPads.

Continue using the current version of Form I-9 until the new version is available on I-9 Central. Subscribe to be among the first to know when the new Form I-9 is posted on I-9 Central. Employers use E-Verify at over 2 million worksites to confirm the employment eligibility of new employees.

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23 August 2016

Have a SAVE Question? We Have Answers

Do you have a question about the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) that you really need answered? The SAVE website provides the information you need most.

You can visit our new resources page to discover useful information about the status verification process. Simply select whether you are a current SAVE user, prospective SAVE user or stakeholder, or benefit applicant.

The look and feel of the website has improved. It has a modern, clean and simple style to enhance your experience and expedite your search for information.

We’re really excited for you to check out the new site. You may be randomly selected to take our website survey, and if so then we hope you let us know what you think about your experience. We’ve made a lot of progress over the past few years thanks to your feedback and we are always looking to improve.

If you haven't heard of SAVE before and are wondering what it is, here’s the scoop: SAVE verifies a benefit applicant’s immigration or citizenship status within seconds to help make sure those who are eligible receive benefits. You can watch our director, León Rodríguez, speak about SAVE’s history, milestones and three decades of service on YouTube.

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01 August 2016

Summary of #AskUSCIS Twitter Town Hall on July 26

We held a Twitter Town Hall featuring #AskUSCIS on July 26 to answer your questions about immigration benefits and services. Below are many common questions and answers we addressed during the hour. Thanks to everyone who tweeted questions.

Q1: @ImMasroor_ Can J2 apply for green card, once he will get the waiver for home country return? #AskUSCIS
A1: @ImMasroor_ J2 is dependent on J1 status. If J1 applies for waiver + green card, J2 can also apply. https://t.co/4zDzk18g01 #AskUSCIS
Q2: @nwaab_saab how much time it takes to get a decision on denied EAD appeal/motion? #AskUSCIS
A2: @nwaab_saab Processing time can be up to 90 days. For FAQs on motions and appeals, please visit https://t.co/sW5OyMXiPz #AskUSCIS
Q3: @j_eportillo930 Processing my N-400. What is the usual time process to become a citizen? After my fingerprints. #AskUSCIS
A3: @j_eportillo930 This varies by office. You can check your local office processing time here: https://t.co/pW2rWFB6N3 #AskUSCIS
Q4: @tabhagwat its been 7 weeks and H4 EAD application shows Received, when it will move to next level? #AskUSCIS
A4: @tabhagwat If your case is taking longer than expected, inquire about it through our e-Request tool: https://t.co/E3tDGV6I62 #AskUSCIS
Q5: @alsadimuhammed1 How can I know the exact time for processing an immigrant petition for a relative (Form I-130)? #AskUSCIS
A5: @alsadimuhammed1 You can check your processing times on our website. Please visit https://t.co/2hCk7M4mEY #AskUSCIS
Q6: @immigrationgirl Why must we only use the Application Final Action Dates chart in the Department of State Visa Bulletin? #AskUSCIS
A6: @immigrationgirl For information on filing dates, please visit https://t.co/2VenVUI6wz #AskUSCIS
Q7: @nwaab_saab can an political asylum applicant travel to canada or any other country? whats the requirements? #AskUSCIS
A7: @nwaab_saab Asylum applicants with a pending I-589 can apply for advance parole to travel. Info: https://t.co/VgpcMf1b4B #AskUSCIS
Q8: @alphabet_real US citizen, Applied for my brother last week I-130, how long will it take for NOA 1? #AskUSCIS
A8: @alphabet_real You should receive NOA within 10 days. Check case status to see if we mailed receipt. https://t.co/EhnHOCsW4H #AskUSCIS
Q9: @ImmiGrey Are there any exciting new updates this month regarding e-filing capabilities? #AskUSCIS
A9:@ImmiGrey No new updates, but you can file Form I-90 and pay the immigrant fee online. Check https://t.co/8q4U2sqTWg #AskUSCIS
Q10: @NiriB can I cross back into the States before my OPT is processed without surrendering my F-1 status which expired in May? #AskUSCIS
A10: @NiriB You need a valid visa to enter the US. OPT only allows you to work while in F1 status. Info: https://t.co/4S0QYjnJ6h #AskUSCIS
Q11: @bkrashwal I am US citizen, applying GC for my wife, am a student on scholarship can I use bank statements to sponsor her? #AskUSCIS
A11: @bkrashwal For info on sponsoring a relative: https://t.co/9jyq2ATcuQ. For green card info, visit https://t.co/dqNHIzoUun #AskUSCIS
Q12: @dnahelicase23 old school completed sevis record before I could transfer. okay if I enter w/ my new initial i20 + new record? #AskUSCIS
A12: @dnahelicase23 For information on F-1 school transfers, please visit https://t.co/0Rp9eGkvRO #AskUSCIS
Q13: @naresharelly Do someone need to File for H1B amendment if they change Client within 50 mile metropolitan area? #AskUSCIS
A13: @naresharelly Check our final policy guidance on when you need to file an amendment or new H-1B. https://t.co/8Euvz6qXCQ #AskUSCIS
Q14: @shubzinator Immigrant fee site gives error since June 29. I checked my bill. Gave me no receipt / confirmation. #AskUSCIS.
A14: @shubzinator Create or log into your account to see payment status here: https://t.co/qvbjX5Vaoa #AskUSCIS

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28 July 2016

National Campaign Promotes Citizenship Education and Awareness

Through a national campaign that began last July, we’ve worked hard to promote greater awareness of the rights, benefits and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. An estimated 8.8 million lawful permanent residents are currently eligible to apply for citizenship. The Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Campaign enabled us to reach out to many of them with information about how to become a U.S. citizen and the free study materials available from USCIS.

Due to the growing need for reliable information about citizenship, we released the first set of digital ads in four states last summer. In the fall, we ran digital and print ads in the 10 states with 75 percent of the lawful permanent resident population: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington and Arizona. Ads appeared in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog. We ran ads for a third time earlier this year in the same 10 states, along with new Facebook ads which expanded our reach. The campaign generated over a million clicks and nearly two million page views online and reached 19 million people through our print ads. 

We couldn’t have done it alone. We would like to thank the many organizations that helped us promote the campaign across the country, ensuring it was a success. These include state and local governments, federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations. 

The year-long effort succeeded in increasing visits to our Citizenship Resource Center, which provides detailed information and tools to assist with the naturalization process.  But informing the public about the benefits and meaning of U.S. citizenship is central to the USCIS mission, and we will continue to do that moving forward. We encourage you to use and share the informational resources available from the campaign which can be found on our website.

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26 July 2016

Citizens on the Move: A Naturalization Story

(This article was originally posted on the Smithsonian Folklife Festival blog. Story by Mariela Melero, Chief, USCIS Office of Customer Service and Public Engagement.)

During the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, I had the opportunity to share my story of citizenship. As I showed my Certificate of Citizenship to the audience, I was reminded of why it is one of my most prized possessions. This certificate represents the final step in my journey to become a U.S. citizen. My first step, however, begins in another place: an island in the Caribbean.

I was born in Cuba and lived there during my early childhood. I remember that my father served time in prison for his beliefs. Now I know that during that time, political uncertainty in Cuba drove many people to seek new lives in the United States, but leaving Cuba was a difficult process.

Above: Mariela Melero shares the story of the doll she and her sister had to leave behind. She donated the doll’s tiny yellow shirt to the Smithsonian. Photo courtesy of Mariela Melero

On my last day in Cuba, my mother did not have the heart to tell my sister and me that we were leaving forever. Many families traveled with only a few articles of clothing. When we were told my sister’s doll could not travel with us, it became clear that this would be our final goodbye. My mother, however, saved the doll’s tiny yellow shirt so we could have a tangible reminder of the toy.

Our journey took us first to Mexico and then Puerto Rico, where I spent the next fifteen years. When I was eleven and my sister Maria was sixteen, we spent our time helping our parents prepare for the naturalization test to become U.S. citizens.

We studied fifty test questions and tutored our parents until they were confident they knew the answers. Due to my superior tutoring skills, my parents easily answered the questions I had prepared them for, much better than those with which my sister helped!

Now I work for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which allows me to help others realize their dreams of citizenship while also reminding me of my own journey.

Above: New immigrants to the United States celebrate their naturalization.

I have worked to help immigrants become citizens for more than twenty years, and I cannot imagine doing anything else. I thank my family for taking this incredible journey with me and my colleagues for helping others realize this dream. And I especially thank my amazing family of new Americans!

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20 July 2016

New American Satyakalyan Seelamneni: ‘America Took Me In as a Son’

(Between June 30 and July 4, we welcomed more than 7,000 new citizens during nearly 100 naturalization ceremonies in honor of Independence Day. We are featuring stories from some of these new Americans to show how immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation.)

Growing up in southern India, Satyakalyan Seelamneni first learned about the United States in high school and college. Through word of mouth and also by researching online, he learned that America was, as he puts it, "a land of opportunities and dreams and freedom." After completing his studies in India, he came to the United States to work. He remembers arriving in the United States in May 2011. Coming out of Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C., he distinctly remembers the moment that he stepped outside for the first time. "A huge flag was there in front of the airport, I felt that America was welcoming me with an open heart, and I instantly fell in love with this country at that moment."

A technology engineer for a bank, Seelamneni says that "America took me in as a son and taught me many things every day, including love, honesty, truth, respect, compassion and camaraderie." He remembers how his parents taught him the value of giving back to society, and how those values went hand in hand with making the decision to become a U.S. citizen. "America helped me to become a better person in my personal and professional life, and I wanted to give something back, and help the society in whatever way I could."

When asked about the process of becoming a citizen, he says that once he read about citizenship on the USCIS website, he was able to find what he needed and apply. "The USCIS website gave me all I needed to complete the process, it’s all right there." In addition, he remembers that, despite feeling nervous, the naturalization exam was a very positive experience. The USCIS officer who conducted his exam was, in his words, "professional and courteous," and even shared additional facts about American history with him after the exam had ended.

Above: Seelamneni shares his story at his naturalization ceremony

Finally, this past July 1, the big day arrived. Seelamneni became a U.S. citizen at a special naturalization ceremony at Fort Necessity, a historical battlefield in Pennsylvania from the 18th-century French and Indian War. When asked about the ceremony, he said: "I feel like I am a part of the history. I shared my experiences with other new citizens, we discussed how your future would be if you are honest and work hard, how the sky is the limit."

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13 July 2016

New Citizen Arbina Nayeem: You Can Dream What You Want and Dare to Realize Those Dreams

(Between June 30 and July 4,  we welcomed more than 7,000 new citizens during nearly 100 naturalization ceremonies in honor of Independence Day. We are featuring stories from some of these new U.S. citizens to show how immigrants add to the strength and character of our nation.)

For Arbina Nayeem her July 4th naturalization ceremony was the capstone of a long journey from India to becoming a U. S. citizen. Growing up, her parents dreamed that she and her siblings would have the opportunity to study in the United States.

Nayeem, a trained dentist and now a Captain in the U.S. Army reserves, started her journey 12 years ago when she came to the U.S. on a student visa. "When I got the visa, I was so excited. It was the best day of my life to that point." Her new life in America was anything but easy. "At first, I was homesick, I didn’t expect to be, but I was without my family. But over the years I have been here, I have grown so much."

She remembers the long days of studying and nights of classes as she worked her way through dental school. Entrance exams for dental school were demanding, expensive and competitive, but Nayeem never gave up. She earned both a masters and doctoral degree.

Captain Nayeem in front of the Battleship New Jersey, the site of her July 4th naturalization ceremony

Along the way, she decided to join the U.S. Army. "I have always admired the military lifestyle, and I wanted to give back to the country that gave me so much. I wanted to serve. I am the first military member of my family, and I am very, very proud."

After making America her adopted home, becoming a citizen was an easy choice. "When you leave your country and come to the United States, you want to be a part of the place that you live in, the place that has given you everything. You want to be a responsible citizen."

Nayeem remembers studying for her naturalization test. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is my favorite line now. I learned a lot about the history." She remembers how the test preparation materials helped her answer every question on the test right.

Captain Nayeem with family after the ceremony

The dream of citizenship became a reality during a special Independence Day naturalization ceremony aboard the Battleship New Jersey. "Becoming a naturalized citizen on the fourth of July means so much. It was so nice, people walked up and shook my hand and thanked me for my service. All the struggles, hardships, and sacrifices my family and I dealt with were worth it. It is surreal. It still hasn’t sunk in yet."

To others considering citizenship, Nayeem says "Work hard and focus on your goals. This is a land of opportunity, you can dream what you want and dare to realize those dreams. The sky is the limit here."

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08 July 2016

Remembering Elie Wiesel, an Outstanding American By Choice

Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner who died on July 2 at 87, was recognized by USCIS as an Outstanding American by Choice in 2008.

Among other accomplishments, he was founding chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where just last month, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20, USCIS held a naturalization ceremony for the first time. He was also chairman of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, which he and his wife created to fight indifference, intolerance and injustice.

"Going back to when I saw him speak at my college, I have long been inspired by the manner in which Mr. Wiesel's gentle spirit was the vehicle for towering moral clarity and strength," said USCIS Director León Rodríguez.  "Like many of the refugees who we meet at USCIS, Mr. Wiesel took from his suffering a call to repair the world.  May we all be deserving heirs of the invaluable ethical legacy he leaves."

In a statement, President Barack Obama said of Wiesel: "As a writer, a speaker, an activist, and a thinker, he was one of those people who changed the world more as a citizen of the world than those who hold office or traditional positions of power.  His life, and the power of his example, urges us to be better.  In the face of evil, we must summon our capacity for good.  In the face of hate, we must love.  In the face of cruelty, we must live with empathy and compassion.  We must never be bystanders to injustice or indifferent to suffering."

At age 15, the German Nazis deported Wiesel and his family from Romania to Auschwitz in Poland.  His mother and younger sister died in the camp.  He and his father were later moved to Buchenwald, where his father died a few months before it was liberated by the U.S. Army in April 1945.

After the war, Wiesel learned that his two older sisters had survived.  He studied in Paris and became a journalist.  Over the years he authored more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, including his account of the camps in "La Nuit" or "Night," which has sold millions of copies and been translated into more than 30 languages.

Since 1976, he had been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at Boston University. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed him as chairman of the President's Commission on the Holocaust.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.  His numerous other awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

In a statement, Vice President Joe Biden said, "Elie implanted in my soul an unwavering insistence that we must educate every successive generation to exactly what happened, so that we can never forget the horrors of the Shoah. It was Elie's life-long work to make sure each of us carried in our hearts that promise - never again."

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