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23 June 2011

USCIS Field Office Director Ken Sherman: An Honor to Serve Those Who Serve

My last day as director of the USCIS field office in Seoul, South Korea, was June 2, 2011. While I am excited about my new job as director of the USCIS field office in Honolulu, Hawaii, I will miss my old job.

I will miss traveling across South Korea and to Afghanistan, China, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, and onboard Navy ships at sea to naturalize noncitizens in the military and their family members.

On May 20, 2011, USCIS Seoul Field Office Director Kenneth Sherman presided during a naturalization ceremony on the USS Essex at the Sasebo Naval Base in Japan for 46 sailors, Marines and military family members. (U.S. Navy photo)

On May 20, 2011, USCIS Seoul Field Office Director Kenneth Sherman presided during a naturalization ceremony on the USS Essex at the Sasebo Naval Base in Japan for 46 sailors, Marines and military family members. (U.S. Navy photo)

Last month, I had the honor of administering the Oath of Allegiance on the flight deck of the USS Essex to 46 sailors, Marines and military family members. In fact, this was the first naturalization ceremony for members of our Armed Forces and their families serving in Japan since the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11.

The colors are presented before the ceremony (U.S. Navy photo)

 The colors are presented before the ceremony (U.S. Navy photo)

It is always a privilege to administer the Oath of Allegiance, and I know I will continue to be so privileged in Hawaii. It was, however, especially rewarding to recognize this group from Sasebo Naval Base and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Many of these men and women were scheduled to naturalize in March, but we postponed the ceremony while they participated in Operation Tomodachi, providing disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Japan.

Yes, I will miss this job, but I will never miss the commitment and service to others demonstrated by the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

Kenneth J. Sherman


20 June 2011

World Refugee Day: One USCIS Officer’s Reflections

(Written by Diane Norman, USCIS Refugee Officer)

To say that it has been a pleasure to work as a Refugee Officer for two years would be an understatement. Since starting this job, I have worked in 10 countries on four continents, each beautiful in its own way. Traveling around the world was always my dream. So I can’t deny that when I started this job, I was most excited about the evenings and weekends I would have to explore my new surroundings.

I soon discovered, however, that it was the workdays, not the weekends, that would have the greater impact on my life.

USCIS refugee officers often struggle to get through interviews by day’s end, so I cherish the moments when I can put down my pen and have a real conversation with the person in front of me. I don’t want to ask any more mandatory questions or check off any more boxes. I want to know what their lives are like; what they do for fun and what their hopes for the future are.

After listening to the terrible things these people have endured in their home countries, it amazes me that they can still be full of compassion, love, and hope. I see how they light up when they talk about their children, their hobbies, or their dreams for the future.

I’m sure that refugees such as the Iraqi child who loves PlayStation, the Burmese girl who lost her parents, or the Iraqi Christian woman who couldn’t stop thanking me after the interview will do just fine in the U.S. I know my work has a great impact on their lives - and the impact they’ve had on my life will stick with me forever.

Endnote: For more information on World Refugee Day and USCIS's work with refugees, please see our website.


16 June 2011

The Director's Office: Alejandro Mayorkas Receives Award from Immigrant Rights Group, Hosts Chicago Community Leaders Forum on Immigration

Director Mayorkas
On Thursday, June 2, 2011, Director Alejandro Mayorkas of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services traveled to Chicago to receive an award from one of Illinois’ most prominent immigrant advocacy groups and to host a White House-sponsored business leaders’ forum on immigration reform.

In the evening of June 2, The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) hosted more than 300 people at its 25th anniversary celebration.  ICIRR is a state-wide coalition of 138 organizations dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.  Director Mayorkas was honored with ICIRR’s Golden Door Award for his leadership of USCIS in its efforts to ensure that United States citizenship remains a valued and accessible benefit to all who are eligible.  ICIRR singled out the Obama Administration’s decision in 2010 to keep the naturalization fee flat despite required cost-based increases in other immigration benefit categories.  This was ICIRR’s inauguration of its Golden Door Award.

Earlier in the day, as part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to elevate the debate around immigration reform, Director Mayorkas joined Chicago area business leaders to discuss the need and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.  The roundtable discussion drew leaders from all sectors of the community, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Illinois Restaurant Association, and representatives from financial services, building development, non-profits, and the clergy.  The roundtable’s participants shared with Director Mayorkas the need for comprehensive immigration reform, ideas for further engagement and mobilization, and the Chicago community’s plans to promote the needed reforms.

This is the first installment of “The Director’s Office” - a new series of posts from Director Mayorkas that will appear regularly on this blog.


09 June 2011

USCIS Initiative to Combat the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law

All too often, individuals seeking immigration benefits are deceived by people pretending to be "immigration experts." This is against the law.

Common scams include:
  • Falsely posing as a lawyer or BIA-accredited representative and charging customers for legal “advice” on immigration matters
  • Charging for free services such as USCIS forms and InfoPass appointments or charging exorbitant amounts for assistance with immigration services 
  • Falsely acting as a representative of the U.S. government and charging for a green card, employment authorization, temporary protected status or some other immigration benefit
Other people may offer to help you complete your forms and may have good intentions, but are not qualified to provide legal advice on immigration law or your immigration options.

Today, in partnership with several other agencies, USCIS is launching a public education initiative to combat the unauthorized practice of immigration law (UPIL).

Efforts will include public outreach events throughout the country to raise awareness and give individuals the tools they need to make wise choices when seeking immigration advice. USCIS has also worked with partners in the federal government such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to combat this pervasive problem.

The central message of USCIS’s public education efforts is: "The Wrong Help Can Hurt – Beware of Immigration Scams."

Poster: The Wrong Help Can Hurt – Beware of Immigration Scams.

For more information on efforts to stop the Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law, please visit our website at

01 June 2011

Visit our Citizenship Resource Center

Need information and resources on U.S. citizenship? You’re not alone! Many visitors to the USCIS website do. Our Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is one of our most downloaded forms.

That’s why USCIS created the Citizenship Resource Center, an easy-to-use Web portal that has information for learners, teachers and organizations. Visit it at

Learners such as permanent residents exploring the possibility of becoming U.S. citizens will find information on:
Teachers, volunteers and educators prepping immigrants for U.S. citizenship will find:
The Citizenship Resource Center also offers information in other languages, including the Spanish-language page, “Recursos para la naturalización” (“Resources for Naturalization”).

We are always looking to improve our citizenship content. Please share any thoughts or suggestions in the comments section.