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USCIS Updates History and Genealogy Resource Pages

USCIS has updated their resource pages for History and Genealogy Research. Click here to see what’s available to assist you.


News and Announcements

HIAS Chicago Citizenship Classes Offered

HIAS Chicago invites you to our Citizenship Classes to help you prepare for your citizenship interview and exam. 

Classes are taught in English by volunteer teachers.

Please check our HIAS Calendar for dates and locations.

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HIAS Chicago is a partner in serving our community, receiving support from the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation.

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Consider a New Volunteer Opportunity:  HIAS Chicago Ambassador

To enhance our benefit to clients, we welcome new ways to spread the word about our services. Volunteers can work individually or in pairs to meet with members of our priority communities in the city or suburbs based on their location and interests.

See our Volunteer page for more information, or contact Katie Dudzik at 312-357-4666 or

HIAS Chicago Assists Eligible Immigrants With Citizenship Application

On Saturday, April 12, HIAS Chicago held a free citizenship application workshop at St. Ansgar Catholic Church in Hanover Park.  HIAS Chicago staff and volunteers helped Legal Permanent Residents apply for US citizenship. 

Free Upcoming Citizenship Application Assistance Workshops-April 24 and May 29

Date:  April 24, 2014 and May 24, 2014

Place: Indian Trails Library

 355 Schoenbeck Road

Wheeling, IL 60090

Hours: 6:30pm-8:30pm

For more information, see the flyer or call HIAS Chicago at (312) 357-4666.


April is Fair Housing Month in Chicago

Housing discrimination is prohibited in the City of Chicago. If you or someone you know is experiencing housing discrimination, contact the Chicago Commission on Human Relations here

Also read more here:

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HIAS Responds to Crisin In Ukraine

HIAS is monitoring the ongoing political unrest in Ukraine and its impact on asylum seekers and refugees as well as the Ukrainian Jewish community. 

The violence in Ukraine during the last few weeks in particular forced us to temporarily close our offices in Kyiv, Lviv, and Lutsk, although our legal staff continued to represent clients in those courts that remained in session.

The situation is still too unsettled for consideration of new migration options at this time. We are, however, keeping a very close eye on new developments, have re-opened our offices, and are providing full legal services. 

HIAS has been working in Ukraine for more than a decade. Originally established to assist Jewish migrants emigrating from Ukraine to the United States, today HIAS in Ukraine and its partner agency, Right 2 Protection, provide legal protection services for unaccompanied minors and other asylum-seekers from 39 countries.


Hanover Park Village Clerk, Corral, Hosts HIAS Chicago To Provide Immigration & Citizenship Assistance Two Wednesdays a Month

New Services begin March 5 at the Village Clerk’s Office

CHICAGO – HIAS Chicago is partnering with the Office of the Hanover Park Village Clerk Eira L. Corral to provide drop-in and by-appointment free or low cost immigration and citizenship services to village residents.

Beginning this Wednesday, an immigration lawyer and a caseworker from the century-old immigration agency will answer questions about immigration and citizenship, and help people to complete citizenship applications.   There is no charge for the consultation.  Application assistance may include a minimal fee.

The HIAS Chicago staff will be at the Village Clerk’s office, at 2121 Lake Street, in Hanover Park, two Wednesdays monthly from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We thank Village Clerk Eira Corral for graciously opening her office to us and making this partnership possible,” said Jodi Doane, executive director of HIAS Chicago. “The path to immigration and citizenship can be complicated. Through this new partnership, we hope to help people achieve their dreams of immigration and ultimately citizenship, and especially help reunify families.”

"The Clerk’s Office is pleased to provide this new service to the residents and businesses of Hanover Park.  We always look for ways to enhance our neighbors’ experience and we look forward to working with HIAS Chicago in this capacity.”

HIAS Chicago will also provide a free citizenship workshop  from 9 a.m. until  noon on April 12 at St. Ansgar Roman Catholic Church, 2040 Laurel Ave., in Hanover Park.

For more than 100 years, HIAS Chicago has served those in need of assistance, helping Jewish people and others from all over the world come to America. HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) Chicago , is a leader among agencies in our community assisting people through the immigration process, resettling them in a new country, and getting on and staying on the path to U.S. citizenship. HIAS Chicago is a member of the Northwest Municipal Conference of Mayors. 

For more information about available services, please contact HIAS Chicago  at (312) 357-4666.

Immigrant-Owned Business Makes Communication Easier

by Julie Wiener, JTA, February 21, 2014

Jan Koum’s birthday is Monday, but he’s already received his big gift.

The Ukraine-born CEO and founder of WhatsApp has catapulted from relative unknown to a poster boy for rags-to-riches immigrant triumph since selling the rapidly growing messaging company to Facebook for a record-breaking $19 billion earlier this week.

Koum, who is about to turn 38, grew up in a village near Kiev and immigrated to the United States as a teen, part of the exodus of Jews from the former Soviet Union in the aftermath of its collapse.

Read more:

HIAS Chicago Honored to Receive Donation from Bat Mitzvah Naomi Aisen

On Tuesday, February 24, we were honored to receive $1500 raised by Naomi Aisen for her mitzvah project in advance of her April Bat Mitzvah.  With help from her younger  brother and sister, she made more than 250 jars of M &Ms and chocolate chip cookie ingredients (with recipes!) and sold them with door to door delivery, with all proceeds coming to HIAS Chicago.  Thank you to Irena Berezin for suggesting us to Naomi.

Naomi's parents immigrated to the US from Russia as young children--with their parents--through the help of HIAS NY and HIAS Chicago, in 1979 (mom) and 1977 (dad). Naomi has a close relationship with both sets of grandparents today, and after talking with Azita, one of the attendees, Naomi will be going home to ask questions and learn more about her grandparents' immigration story.  Naomi loves to bake and plays on her school's volleyball team.  She chose HIAS Chicago because she believes your mitzvah project should be 'something close to your heart, that relates to you."

HIAS Chicago is Proud to Partner with ICIRR to Help People Get Closer to Citizenship

On Saturday, February 22, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) hosted the Illinois Immigrant Integration Policy Summit at Benito Juarez High School, for a day of workshop and discussion. Workshops included information on citizenship, deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), healthcare, deportation, tax issues, faith-based organizing and parent engagement.

Chicago Council Survey Shows Bipartisan Support for Immigration Reform Among Midwestern Business Leaders

HIAS Chicago is happy to share a Chicago Council report released February 3 that shows bipartisan support among Midwestern business leaders to pass immigration reform. 75 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of Democrats, and 55 percent of Independents favor the Senate bill on comprehensive immigration reform that includes stricter border control and a pathway to citizenship.

We need immigration reform now

By: John Rowe, Samuel C. Scott III and Doug L. Whitley January 22, 2014, Crain's Chicago Business

Last year, every sector of Illinois' economy — including technology, hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, education, health care, engineering, energy, finance and real estate — spoke in one voice through the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition to call on Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform that empowers Illinois' economic competitiveness. Read more...

HIAS Chicago Celebrates National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month and HIAS Chicago celebrates all of our mentors who volunteer their time and talent for our Citizenship Applicants! David Shapiro, CEO of MENTOR says, "Be someone who matters to someone who matters."

 Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to teach, offer a practice interview, tutor, fill out applications, train, greet, and guide each applicant. Your selfless giving helps  immigrants achieve their dreams by supporting them on their path to citizenship. We can't do this work without you!

Do you want to connect with others, support immigrants on their path to citizenship, and impacting lives? We are always looking for more mentors so please contact for more information.

See the Proclamation from President Obama below:


HIAS Chicago FY2013 Annual Report

HIAS Chicago appreciates all of our friends and supporters for making our work possible. Fiscal Year 2013 was a year of exciting work and organizational growth. Please read our Annual Report for more detail.

Eight wins in Immigration Reform in 2013

by Rebecca Leber and Esther Yu-Hsi Lee, 12/18/13, at

Despite a landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill that cleared the Senate in June, a corresponding bill that addresses the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States has yet to come to a vote in the House. In fact, the only immigration-related bill that House members brought to a floor vote was a measure to pave the way for deporting undocumented immigrants between the ages of 16 and 31. But although the year ended without a victory on the greatest potential avenue for reform through a bill in Congress, the immigration reform movement achieved other crucial victories in 2013. Here are eight:

Click here to read the full article.

Let’s Light the Menorah!            A Chanukah Celebration

Holocaust Community Services, in partnership with EZRA, CJE SeniorLife, and HIAS Chicago celebrated the holidays with Russian-speaking Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, families and friends.
Everyone had a wonderful time listening to the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and dancing!





A Piece of Jewish Baseball History

HIAS Chicago is excited to introduce you to a unique gift idea for the baseball lovers, Jewish history aficionados, and art lovers among us!

Greg Harris, the Chicago creator of "Jewish Baseball Players" has a series of limited edition artworks featuring prominent Jewish baseball figures; each piece features original signatures by the living former and current athletes. These pieces make baseball come to life, and offer a scenic trip down memory lane.  Cubs? Sox? Pirates? Yankees? Blue Jays? They're all represented by some of the greatest Jewish sports heroes in history.

As a special benefit to HIAS Chicago, Jewish Baseball Players has chosen HIAS Chicago as their Spotlight Charity, inviting you to Hit a Homerun for HIAS Chicago this Hanukkah!  $500 of each purchased piece will be contributed to HIAS Chicago. And through December 6, 2013, all contributions will be matched dollar for dollar by an anonymous donor. Own a piece of baseball history, buy one for a friend, and Hit a Homerun for HIAS Chicago this Hanukkah!

For more information, please click here or visit

Temporary Valid Driver's Licenses (TVDLs) Now Available 

Illinois' current state law allows TVDLs for documented individuals who need to drive to work, school, child care arrangements, family appointments, etc.   In January 2013, Governor Quinn signed a law to allow undocumented motorists with these same driving requirements to apply for a TVDL. The new TVDLs are now available at select Secretary of State offices in Chicago and the suburbs. Please visit the Secretary of State's website for more information and to schedule an appointment. 

Congress passes the RUSH Act

The RUSH Act, included in the ongoing work in Congress to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, will help make additional assistance available to survivors of the Holocaust to maintain a strong quality of life and their safe independence as they age. Please click here to read more.

Call Your Congressman to Prevent Cut in SNAP Benefits 

SNAP helps low income individuals of all ages and families to eat & live healthy. Significant cuts are being discussed in Congress. Please contact your Senators and Representatives (you can find them here). Urge them to keep this healthy food safety net for our low-income seniors and families.

HIAS Chicago 2014 Scholarship Application Period Now Open

The 2014 HIAS Chicago Scholarship Application is open from November 7, 2013, and will close on February 10, 2014.  

Please note our application criteria have changed for 2014. Please be sure to click below and read the new application criteria to determine if you are eligible.

Undergraduate Scholarships  

Graduate Scholarships

HIAS Chicago Recipient Agency for CJHS service learning work

HIAS Chicago is honored to have been chosen as the recipient agency for Chicagoland Jewish High School’s Youth Philanthropy Initiative’s service learning work this year. These amazing young people have invited us to join them in a year-long partnership that will increase their knowledge about immigration services and concerns, and raise awareness about HIAS Chicago services. Thank you, CJHS! Stay tuned to this page for exciting updates. 

HIAS Chicago to Hold Health Insurance Marketplace Training

HIAS Chicago, with the Jewish Child and Family Services and Ezra, will be holding a Health Insurance Marketplace training on Monday, November 18, from 3:30-5:00pm at the JCC in Skokie.  Please contact HIAS Chicago at 312-357-4666 for more information.  This training will be translated into Russian.  Please click here to see the flyer for additional information.

HIAS Chicago's Friendraiser

October 2013

HIAS Chicago was thrilled to host Senator Daniel Biss (9th District) and Roberta Rakove of Sinai Health Systems and Illinois Women for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, for a lively and informative discussion on immigration’s impact on communities, schools, businesses and our economy. Click here for more pictures. 

September 2013

On September 18, HIAS Chicago was honored to host its first Friend Raiser, hosted by Board Member Azita Mojarad, with special presenters Anayanzi Mendez, Director of External Affairs for Illinois Republican Leader Tom Cross; and Rudy Lozano, Director of the New Americans Initiative at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. The open-dialogue series, Paving the Road, Building the Bridges for Stronger Communities, helps individuals learn about the intersections- across regions, faiths, service sectors and ethnicities- created by immigration, and the value of immigration to our business, education and residential communities across the state.  Click here for more photos. Watch this page for updates and pictures from future Friend Raisers!

Government Shutdown Leaves Refugees Stranded

Posted by HIAS – DC on Mon, Oct 14, 2013 at 13:23 pm

As the government shutdown continues, refugee arrivals to the U.S. continue to be delayed, leaving thousands already scheduled for departure in limbo around the globe.

Larry Bartlett, Director of Refugee Admissions at the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), announced late last week that the refugee travel moratorium that initially cancelled refugee arrivals to the U.S. until October 21 has been extended until October 28. 

Click here to

Moving Us Forward: Illinois Voices for Immigration Reform

Please join the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, State Representative Joe Sosnowski and Northern Illinois University for a panel discussion in support of common sense immigration reform. This forum will foster a solutions-oriented conversation among leaders of the local business and education communities at this critical moment in the national debate on immigration reform.

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
9:00am – 10:30am CDT
Community Building Complex
111 W. 1st Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

Please click here to access the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition website for more information.

Consider a New Volunteer Opportunity:  Become a Volunteer Citizenship Educator (VCE)

HIAS Chicago has created a new mentor position – the Volunteer Citizenship Educator (VCE), in order to build stronger relationships between volunteers and our immigrant clients, and to meet the needs of a variety of applicants.

Each trained and supervised VCE will be matched with a HIAS Chicago citizenship applicant and will create a personalized citizenship preparation plan with the applicant.  The plan will include classes, individual tutoring, practice interviewing and/or self-study as determined by each pair.  The VCE will mentor the applicant throughout the citizenship process – preparation, application completion, interview and oath.

Click here to read the full Volunteer description. 

Living history through art- the Minsk Ghetto Commemoration Event

September 29, 2013, was a special day for survivors of the Holocaust, their loved ones, and those who wanted to learn more about the Holocaust’s impact on the Russian-speaking Jewish community. Chicago Connect, Reklama Media, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, Holocaust Community Services of Jewish Child and Family Services, and HIAS Chicago marked the 70th anniversary since the Minsk Ghetto destruction, where thousands of Soviet Jews were killed.  

At the dawn of World War II, more than 4.5 million Jews lived on the Soviet Union territory. Of these, 2.7 million ended up under Nazi occupation. Many were able to flee to unoccupied regions or served in the Soviet military. During the war, Hitler exterminated nearly all of those under occupation. Only about 120,000 survived. All of the Jewish “shtetls” were destroyed, and the Yiddish language and Jewish culture ceased to exist. The survivors found themselves under a Stalinist regime which suppressed all discussions of Jewish people suffering. No monuments were erected to the victims. No information about their fate was published. It was only after the Soviet Union collapsed that the true horrors endured by the Soviet Jews became known. Practically every Russian-speaking Jewish family in the Chicago area lost their loved ones.  

Newspaper REKLAMA has been collecting and publishing materials dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust in the Russian-speaking Jewish community for more than 20 years. Three Photo Albums in Russian and English telling the stories of survival and heroism were already published, and Reklama, with the help of community and sponsors, intends to publish more. There are still so many stories that need to be told.  

Fourteen survivors from the Minsk Ghetto live now in Chicago and they were in the audience: Klara Bolotina, Leonid Britva, Faina Gimpeleva, Maria Dement, Semen Dobin, Mariya Katsman, Grigoriy Kroshunskiy, Yelizaveta, Levina, Valentina Margolina, Matus Stolov, Evel Sorsher, Genya Tokarskaya, Faina Shmagina, and Mikhail Stolyar. All these survivors were small children or teens who either ran from the ghetto to partisans to save their own life, or were saved by partisans during some of the active military operations. It is a known fact that by the end of 1942, Nazi and local collaborators killed more than 90,000 Jews in the Minsk ghetto. Minsk ghetto was one of the biggest ghettos in Europe, second by the number of people after the Lviv ghetto in Ukraine. Only about 8,000 people survived in the Minsk ghetto. 

During the event, presentation of two unique etchings collections by Minsk native and distinguished Jewish artist, Lazar Ran, took place.  Mr. Ran, who lost  his family, including two children, in the Minsk ghetto, created two collections- “The Minsk Ghetto” and “Jewish Writers” – that chronicle life in the Minsk Ghetto during the Holocaust, and a tribute to Jewish writers and poets executed by the KGB.  The presentation was made possible by the Tsinman family, who purchased the collections from Mr. Ran’s heirs and generously made the works available to the general public. Both collections are presently in Chicago, and after their first showing at the Holocaust Museum on September 29, 2013, the Tsinman Family decided to give rights on showing all of the works to Jewish museums and educational organizations.  

Share Your Story

Your personal story is HIAS Chicago's history. HIAS Chicago is collecting and preserving the poignant stories of your family’s immigration.  Help make your story a chapter in HIAS Chicago's history as we celebrate our 100th Anniversary. Please visit our Share Your Story page to share your own with us. 

And be sure to visit our Your HIAS Chicago Stories page to read about others' histories.





















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