Immigration

It is hard for immigrants to get green cards and other benefits. These tools help.

Electronic processing allows the federal immigration agency to make decisions on applications with greater efficiency.
Electronic processing allows the federal immigration agency to make decisions on applications with greater efficiency. Getty Images

U.S. immigration procedures are complicated enough to spark anxiety and uncertainty among applicants, especially when the cases are taking a long time to adjudicate and their legal status is about to expire.

The applicants may be powerless in the face of delays and decisions by immigration authorities, but they do have access to government self-service tools on the internet that allow them to track their cases and help to facilitate the legal process, often reducing waiting times.

This immigration guide, produced by AccesoMiami.com, shows the digital resources and tools provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help immigrants obtain and track benefits such as visas, work permits, green cards and U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

Read more: Here are some of the worst mistakes immigrants make applying for legal papers

How to create a USCIS online account

The online account — which can be opened on https://myaccount.uscis.dhs.gov — offers a secure way for immigrants to submit applications and review their status as the process moves along.

This tool allows foreign nationals to file forms, submit the evidence or proofs supporting the application, respond to requests for supporting evidence, verify the status of the applications and pay the required fees with credit or debit cards.

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How to submit application forms

These USCIS recommendations guide petitioners in the process of applying for immigration benefits. The benefit request forms that can be submitted online are:

I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card

N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings

N-400, Application for Naturalization

N-565, Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document

N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship

N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322

G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative

Read more: Here’s what it takes for an immigrant to get a green card — and not lose it

How to get direct access to resources

The central tools page contains links that help navigate the complex U.S. immigration system.

The “How Do I” guides offer crucial information for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, non-immigrant foreigners, refugees and holders of asylum status, employers and general information about USCIS procedures.

The agency recently redesigned its extensive Immigration and Citizenship Data page to simplify the searches for information immigrants do while they wait for a pending procedure or before applying for immigration benefits.

Consult the virtual assistant

Her name is “Emma,” and she’s the agency’s bilingual computer-generated virtual assistant, capable of answering specific questions and guiding users in the search for information. USCIS says this tool can do the following:

Instantly answer questions about immigration services.

Navigate the agency’s web page.

Find information based on questions and search terms, without the need to use the government’s legal terminology.

Read more: These policy changes will impact legal immigrants in the U.S. in 2019

How to check immigration case status

Worried about the possible results of your case? You can check the progress of any case by using the electronic My Case Status landing page.

Applicants enter their case receipt number — three letters followed by 10 numbers — and the system displays the latest action taken by USCIS as well as the next steps.

Read more: It’s not so hard for an immigrant to become a U.S. citizen. Here’s what you have to do

Ask questions about the case

Do you believe your case is taking longer than normal processing times? Do you suspect that a USCIS notice or other documents got lost in the mail? You can submit questions here.

The e-Request tool also allows petitioners to check on specific cases, correct typographic errors in the official documentation and request disability accommodations for USCIS appointments, such as the biometric services and the Oath of Allegiance ceremony.

How to change your address

Foreign nationals who are not U.S. citizens are required to notify immigration authorities about a change of address or new address. If the application or petition is already pending, a change of address can be reported online using Form AR-11.

USCIS needs the new address to send decision notices, return original documents submitted for applications or contact the petitioners for other issues related to their application.

Read more: Immigrants facing deportation don’t always have to leave the U.S. Here’s what they can do

How to calculate fees

Problems with the fees required for applications — particularly incorrect payments — are one of the leading cause for immigration applications denials, so the federal agency recently launched an online fee calculator that totals the correct amount to pay.

Applicants have to select the form or forms they need and respond to questions about the forms they chose. The calculator then determines the fee owed.

Read more: What to do if an Immigration or Border Patrol officer confronts you

Study guide for citizenship tests

The government provides immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship the materials required to study for the widely feared naturalization test, both for the civics portion — which encompasses 100 questions and answers — and for the English-language section.

Many other free resources are offered online, and immigrants can also watch a video about the interview and testing procedures.

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Read more about legal and immigration issues in Spanish at AccesoMiami.com

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Daniel Shoer Roth es un galardonado autor, biógrafo y periodista con 20 años en la plantilla de el Nuevo Herald, donde se ha desempeñado como reportero, columnista de noticias y actual productor de crecimiento digital. También es coordinador de AccesoMiami.com, una guía sobre todo lo que necesitas saber sobre Miami, asuntos legales e inmigración.
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