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25 March 2011

USCIS Celebrates Immigrant Medal of Honor Recipients

March 25 is National Medal of Honor Day, a date set aside each year to pay tribute to the recipients of our nation’s highest award for valor. Since the first Medals of Honor were presented during the Civil War, more than 700 recipients of the award have been immigrants who distinguished themselves by their gallantry during military action.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recognizes the extraordinary heroism of this select group of heroes by dedicating space in 18 of our facilities to recognize their gallantry and tremendous courage. Their bravery serves as an enduring reminder that immigrant recipients of the Medal of Honor embody the best of American values and continues to inspire us today.  

To learn more about the Medal of Honor recipients for which USCIS facilities are named, please visit our website.

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21 March 2011

Introducing "E-Verify Self Check," An Online Tool That Allows Workers to Check Their Own Employment Eligibility Status

(Posted by Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director)

Today I am proud to announce the launch of E-Verify Self Check. E-Verify is a smart, simple, and effective web-based tool that allows us to work with employers to help them maintain a legal workforce. E-Verify Self Check is an innovative, first of its kind service that will help protect workers and streamline the E-Verify process for businesses.




Put simply, Self Check gives workers fast and secure access to their employment eligibility information before they apply for jobs. In this way, workers are able to identify whether there are any inaccuracies in their Social Security Administration or DHS records before they seek employment, and submit corrections for any inaccuracies ahead of time. Self Check also assists employers by reducing the number of tentative mismatches that could otherwise result when a worker’s government records are not updated. 

Every aspect of E-Verify Self Check was designed to secure users’ personally identifiable information and to prevent misuse of the service. For example, E-Verify Self Check uses an identity assurance process to confirm that the person attempting to run a check is who he or she claims to be to avoid fraud or abuse.

Beginning today, the E-Verify Self Check service is available to users who maintain an address and are physically located in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia or the District of Columbia. In the coming months, USCIS will continue to expand the E-Verify Self Check service to additional eligible users on a rolling basis.

We at USCIS are proud of this latest E-Verify enhancement, and we are confident that it will prove to be a valuable tool for employees and employers alike. I welcome your feedback as we move forward.  

For more details on E-Verify Self Check, I invite you to read the accompanying News Release and Fact Sheet, or visit the E-Verify Self Check Web Page.

March 22 update from the USCIS Blog Team: Director Mayorkas participated in a live interview this morning on Federal News Radio on E-Verify Self Check. Listen to the interview here.

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10 March 2011

My Journey to Afghanistan to Naturalize Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

By Leah Van Wilgen, USCIS Bangkok Field Office Director

I may never be able to truly depict what I felt during this temporary duty assignment to naturalize members of the U.S. armed forces serving in a hostile war zone in Afghanistan, but I know it was a gift to participate and I remain in awe and inspired by the experience.

As a civilian I was never exposed to military life and did not know what to expect. As our plane entered the air space over Afghanistan, I looked out the window and saw the beige landscape of the desert, and the forward operating bases of the coalition forces. Once we landed, I faced a new reality – the walls and ceiling of the first building we entered were riddled with bullet holes. 

Welcome to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

The next day, as I interviewed the soldiers, sailors and Marines, who applied to become U.S. citizens, I found myself mesmerized by their life stories. Many had overcome troubles I would never experience, so much so that I found myself suppressing tears that often welled in my eyes. Among them was the soldier who escaped his home country in Somalia due to violence. Another soldier shared that while he migrated to the United States from Kazakhstan, he was of German ethnicity. During World War II his parents and family were shipped to Siberia, and later migrated to Kazakhstan. Others simply had desires far greater than any I'd ever experienced; including the sailor from the Philippines who stood barely 5 feet tall – she was living her dream of serving in the U.S. Navy and becoming a citizen of the United States.


USCIS Immigration Assistant Traci Picciano, right, watches as a new citizen receives his Certificate of Naturalization from USCIS Bangkok District Director Robert Looney and congratulations from Congressman Darrell Issa, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division commander

USCIS Immigration Assistant Traci Picciano, right, watches as a new citizen receives his Certificate of Naturalization from USCIS Bangkok District Director Robert Looney and congratulations from Congressman Darrell Issa, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division commander

Occasionally, as the sirens would go off and the loudspeakers would announce a rocket attack, we would immediately dive for cover and head to the nearest shelter until the "ALL CLEAR" was announced. During these actions, when I might have felt afraid or worried, I was bolstered by the steadfast leadership of those around me.

More Determined to Continue My Mission

As the week progressed and I met more soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, I could not help but notice that these men and women sacrificed more in both their personal and professional life than the average civilian ever will, including, of course, myself.

In the culmination of our work, we naturalized 98 service members from 48 different countries on a rainy Saturday morning in a large reinforced building. An overwhelming feeling of pride and a sense of a job well done came over me as the new citizens walked on stage to receive their naturalization certificates.


Six new citizens stand with their brigade commander and Command Sgt. Maj.

Six new citizens stand with their brigade commander and Command Sgt. Maj.

After the ceremony, I lingered with the new citizens and their commanders - wanting to soak it all in. While the service members thanked me for traveling to Afghanistan to complete their naturalization, I am the one who continues to feel enormously grateful and owe thanks to each of them for their military service.
Count me among the first to volunteer to return to Kandahar - or any military installation – to help naturalize the men and women of our nation’s armed forces.

(Since October 2004, when the law changed to allow USCIS to conduct naturalizations overseas, USCIS immigration officers have traveled to 23 countries and naturalized more than 9,000 service members, some in combat zones.)

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04 March 2011

An Exceptional Day with Newly Naturalized Navy Recruits

I’m Ruth Dorochoff, USCIS Chicago District Director. After spending the last 5 months at the USCIS office in Tampa, Florida, I’m back in Chicago. And this Wednesday, one of my first assignments since my return was to visit the Great Lakes Naval Base to naturalize 24 Navy recruits. 

USCIS Chicago District Director Ruth Dorochoff stands with a group of newly naturalized Navy recruits

USCIS Chicago District Director Ruth Dorochoff stands with a group of newly naturalized Navy recruits

What a wonderful experience! These 24 young men and women hail from 15 countries, including the Philippines, Nigeria, China and Colombia. Now, through our partnership with the Department of Defense, they can proudly say they are U.S. citizens when they graduate from boot camp and are assigned to their posts.

Administering the Oath of Allegiance

Administering the Oath of Allegiance

Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorize USCIS to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces and recently discharged members. Also, spouses of members of the U.S. armed forces who are, or will be, deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization. A member of the U.S. armed forces must meet the following requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States:

  • Good moral character,
  • Knowledge of the English language,
  • Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics), and
  • Attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
Last October, the USCIS Chicago field office started sending officers to the Great Lakes Naval base to assist green card holders who had just enlisted in the Navy, and who wished to become citizens. Every week since, the officers have returned to help enlistees, and today, the number of recruits naturalized was larger than ever.


The ceremony took place at Great Lakes, Illinois

The ceremony took place at Great Lakes, Illinois

Our goal at USCIS is to naturalize new sailors before they leave for initial assignments around the world. That way, they don’t have to worry about delays if they deploy abroad, particularly if they are going into harms way.

Our newest citizens from Great Lakes today raised their right hands and repeated the Oath of Allegiance in front of a small group of Navy and USCIS staff. They proudly posed for pictures with their American flags and citizenship certificates in tow – with big smiles on their faces. Their journey serving our country has only begun, but they now know that the country they’re serving is truly their own! 

This was truly an exceptional day for me.

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02 March 2011

E-mail Scam: Avoid Green Card Lottery Fraud

(en español/Spanish version)

Have you or someone you know recently received an e-mail claiming you’ve won the Green Card lottery and asking you to send or wire money? Don’t fall for it – the sender is trying to steal your money!

One particularly common fraud email asks recipients to wire $879 per applicant/family member via Western Union to an individual (the name varies) in London, United Kingdom. Below are two recent examples:

fraud email sample

fraud email sample

The fraudsters use a variety of street addresses in London. Those seen often include: 73 Queens Avenue, London, N20 0JB or 30 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7LA or 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE (the address of the US Embassy in London). They have also varied the amount requested per victim - and are likely to continue to do so. Most commonly they've requested $879, $819 and $880.

The fraudsters also continually vary the email address they use, each chosen to impersonate the U.S. State Department. We have seen addresses ending in @kccdv.org, @greencard-org.com, @usafis-org.com, @usa-dv-gov.org, @diplomats.com, @usa.com, @usa-lottery-gov.org, @visa-gov-us.org, @post.com, @dv-state.com, and there are likely many more false addresses.

UPDATE: As of October 2011, we've observed the fraudsters requesting victims to fax a copy of their Western Union receipt to +44 207 691 7968. Do NOT fax any information!

How to Report Fraudulent Emails

If you receive this type of email, do NOT respond to the sender. Forward any fraud email requesting you wire money via Western Union to spoof@westernunion.com or report it by calling 1-800-448-1492. Also report any fraud emails to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

Red Flags and General Traits of Fraud Emails

Fraudsters will frequently e-mail potential victims posing as State Department or other government officials with requests to wire or transfer money online as part of a “processing fee.” You should NEVER transfer money to anyone who e-mails you claiming that you have won the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery or been selected for a Green Card. The Department of State does NOT notify successful DV applicants by letter or email.

These fraudulent e-mails are designed to steal money from unsuspecting victims. The senders often use phony e-mail addresses and logos designed to make them look more like official government correspondence. One easy way to tell that an email is a fraud is that it does not end with a “.gov”.

For more information on this type of fraud, please see the Department of State’s fraud warning and the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer alert on the matter.

For more information about the Diversity Visa Program, see http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ and review the Department of State’s Travel.State.Gov DV Instructions webpage.

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Fraude por correo electrónico: Evite las estafas en la Lotería de Visas

(en inglés/English version)

¿Se ha visto usted o alguien que conoce en la situación de haber recibido un correo electrónico mediante el cual le notifican que ha ganado la Lotería de Visas de la Diversidad,  pero debe enviar o transferir dinero para recibir su Tarjeta de Residencia Permanente?

¡No caiga en la trampa! El remitente sólo quiere robar su dinero.

Los impostores envían frecuentemente correos electrónicos a víctimas potenciales haciéndose pasar por oficiales del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos (DE, por sus siglas en inglés) u otras agencias, pidiéndoles que transfieran dinero electrónicamente para cubrir los gastos de una “tarifa de procesamiento”. Usted NUNCA debe transferir dinero a nadie que le envíe correos electrónicos notificándole que ha ganado la Lotería de Visas de la Diversidad (DV, por sus siglas en inglés) o que ha sido seleccionado para una Tarjeta Verde. El Departamento de Estado NO envía notificaciones positivas de la Lotería de la Diversidad por carta o correo electrónico.

Estos correos electrónicos tienen el propósito de robar dinero de víctimas desprevenidas. Los impostores a menudo utilizan direcciones electrónicas y logotipos del gobierno falsificados, para hacer que la correspondencia tenga una apariencia “oficial”.  Una manera fácil para detectar un correo electrónico fraudulento es cuando la dirección electrónica del remitente no termina en “.gov”.

Un correo electrónico particularmente común pide a las víctimas potenciales que transfieran $819 por solicitante/miembro de familia por medio de Western Union a un individuo (el nombre varía) a la siguiente dirección en el Reino Unido: 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE.

Generalmente los mensajes provienen de varias direcciones electrónicas diseñadas con el propósito de parecer como que provienen del Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos (U.S. Department of State).  Hemos visto ejemplos que terminan en @diplomats.com; @usa.com; @usa-lottery-gov-.org; @visa-gov-us.org; @post.com; @dv-state.com y muchas otras como estas.

Si usted recibe este e-mail, NO RESPONDA.  Repórtelo inmediatamente al Centro de Denuncias de Crímenes por Internet: (Internet Crime Complaint Center) y la Comisión Federal de Comercio (Federal Trade Commission online) o llamando al 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Si el correo electrónico le requiere que envíe el dinero por Western Union, usted también puede denunciarlo a spoof@westernunion.com o llamando al 1-800-448-1492.

Vea más abajo un ejemplo de cómo luce un correo electrónico fraudulento. Haga click en la imagen para agrandar:




ejemplo de cómo luce un correo electrónico fraudulento

Para más información sobre este tipo de fraude y cómo evitarlo y  reportarlo, por favor vea el alerta de fraude del Departamento de Estado y el alerta al consumidor de la Comisión Federal de Comercio.

Obtenga más información acerca del Programa de Lotería de Visas de la Diversidad en http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/ y revisando la página Web del Departamento de Estado Travel.State.Gov DV Instructions.

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