I have my green card and want to bring my sister to live in the United States as a refugee. How do I begin the process?
An Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) provides a means for persons legally in the United States to request refugee processing for certain family members who have been persecuted in their native country. The specific family relationships and nationalities eligible for beginning the refugee process by filing the AOR vary from year to year according to United States Government priorities. HIAS Chicago staff is knowledgeable about who may file an AOR under current priorities.
In order to file an AOR, the U.S. relative must have legal, permanent status in the United States and must attach to the AOR copies of documents that prove that status. AORs must be prepared by a local agency participating in the Department of State’s refugee resettlement program and submitted by the agency’s national headquarters office. AORs submitted directly by a relative will not be accepted. HIAS Chicago can assist you with this process if you and your relative are eligible.
I just became a U.S. citizen and want to bring my mother here to live with me. How do I start the process?
HIAS Chicago staff can assist a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States to file a Petition for Alien Relative with the Immigration Service to establish the relationship to certain alien relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.
If you are a citizen, you may file this form for:
- Your husband, wife, or unmarried child under 21 years old.
- Your unmarried son or daughter over 21, or married son or daughter of any age.
- Your brother or sister if you are at least 21 years old.
- Your parent if you are at least 21 years of age.
If you are a lawful permanent resident, you may file this form for:
- Your husband or wife.
- Your unmarried children of any age.
I came as a visitor to the U.S. but I am afraid to go back to my native country. It’s too dangerous. Can you help?
Every year, thousands of people come to the United States in need of protection and seek asylum because they have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Those found eligible for asylum are permitted to remain in the United States.
HIAS Chicago staff can help those who feel they may be eligible for asylum to learn more about the criteria for this status, and can refer those who wish to pursue the process to attorneys who can assist them.
I am a U.S. citizen and have recently married a woman who is a native of another country. She is currently in the U.S. How can I help my new wife apply for a green card?
The spouse, parent, or unmarried child under age 21 of a U.S. citizen, who entered the U.S. legally, may be eligible to apply for permanent residence (i.e. for a green card) while staying in the U.S. The staff of HIAS Chicago will be able to help you to assess whether your relative is eligible, and to help you through the complex application procedure.
How do I remove the conditions on my residency based on marriage?
If you gained permanent residency status by marrying a U.S. citizen, and if you achieved this status before you had been married for two years, you were given your status on a “conditional” basis. You then must apply to remove this conditional status during the 90 days immediately before the second anniversary of the date you were given conditional resident status. If you do not do so, you will automatically lose your permanent resident status and may become deportable from the U.S.
HIAS Chicago can assist you and your spouse to apply to remove the conditions on your status. If you are no longer married, but you entered into the marriage in good faith, we can help you evaluate whether you are able to apply on your own.
I applied for citizenship last month but I don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for my citizenship exam and interview.
Each HIAS Chicago citizenship applicant is offered extensive self-study materials for the citizenship test and interview, as well as access to our citizenship classes, bilingual tutoring, and mock interviews. A citizenship preparation CD and workbook, “Preparing for Citizenship,” is now available, incorporating both the English and civics testing materials as well as interview practice material based on the N-400 application.
I am getting ready for my Citizenship exam and interview and can not help but worry if I know everything I need to. Can you help me to deal with my anxiety?
Anyone applying for citizenship through HIAS Chicago may participate in a free Mock interview. A carefully trained volunteer will meet with you and conduct a practice interview, to allow you to go through the process in a formal, yet safe environment. You will then receive valuable feedback on your performance and have an opportunity to prepare further for the interview if necessary. Additional preparation and supportive services are provided and a second practice interview may be conducted. This program has proven to be extremely valuable to those interested in becoming more familiar with the citizenship test and interview process.
My mother has been a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for 5 years and is ready to apply for citizenship, but she had a stroke soon after she came to the United States, and has been unable to learn English. Is she still eligible to become a U.S. citizen?
Those applicants who are unable to learn or demonstrate knowledge of basic English and history and civics, due to a documented medical disability, may apply for a waiver of these citizenship requirements. To address the needs of those who are a part of this high-risk population, HIAS Chicago can assist clients and their family members to apply for citizenship, along with our guidance on their disability waiver applications, consultation between HIAS Chicago staff and their medical doctor about the immigration service criteria needed to be included in their waiver application, and a practice review of the contents and questions which may be posed to them at their citizenship exam.
My father is scheduled for his citizenship interview next month. HIAS Chicago helped him apply with a medical disability waiver for the English and civics requirement, but who can help him at this citizenship interview?
For those HIAS Chicago citizenship applicants who have applied for citizenship with a medical disability waiver, a HIAS Chicago citizenship staff member is available to accompany the client to their citizenship interview and provide interpreter services; and when necessary, to provide advocacy on behalf of the client with immigration citizenship staff and supervisors.
I applied for citizenship with the help of HIAS Chicago and passed my test and interview six months ago, but have not yet been scheduled for my oath. How can I find out what happened to my case?
Through its strong, working relationship with the immigration service, HIAS Chicago assists its clients by helping them to inquire about the status of their citizenship applications. In addition, HIAS Chicago advocates on behalf of clients to resolve problem situations during the application or interview process. This work involves regular written and phone contact with the local immigration Citizenship Office, and assistance in scheduling InfoPass appointments at the local immigration service offices.
In addition, HIAS Chicago, along with partnering community-based agencies, meets regularly with the immigration service to discuss overall issues as it relates to the processing and adjudication of benefits.
I am a Holocaust survivor who recently came from Russia. Can you tell me what assistance HIAS Chicago can provide to Holocaust survivors?
While growing older poses new challenges and opportunities for individuals, Holocaust survivors suffer additional complications during the aging process including experiencing feelings of loss of control and reliving painful memories. Our community is committed to providing a range of services to Holocaust survivors to support their independence. Since 2000, Holocaust Community Services, a collaborative effort of JCFS, CJE SeniorLife and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, in partnership with HIAS Chicago, has provided supportive services to the Chicago Holocaust survivor community and their families.
HIAS Chicago works as part of the coalition of Holocaust Community Services to fully enhance the lives of Holocaust Survivors. When appropriate, referrals are made to other members of the coalition team to provide help with home services, group or individual counseling and support, or financial assistance.
I am looking for my long lost aunt who came to the United States right after World War II. Can you help me with this search?
The immigration process is often traumatic and disruptive. Families are separated, friends scattered and lines of communication severed. Recognizing the importance of helping long lost relatives and friends find one another, HIAS Chicago assists clients with local, national and international location searches.
A trained community volunteer under the supervision of the HIAS Administrator performs this service. Please call HIAS Chicago Location Service at 312-357-4666 and our staff will help you.
What kind of advocacy on behalf of immigrants does HIAS Chicago provide to the immigrant community?
HIAS Chicago works continuously to advocate on behalf of refugees and immigrants, both locally and nationally. The agency’s staff and Board of Directors are active participants in the Jewish Federation’s state and federal lobbying missions, representing refugee and immigrant issues. HIAS Chicago is also an active participant in local, state and national immigrant advocacy associations. The agency plays a key role representing immigration issues and the needs of our clients with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Chicago Commission of Consumer Rights, the National Immigration Forum, the Independent Monitoring Board for the INS, the SSI Coalition for a Responsible Safety Net and the local chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Additionally, we work diligently to maintain a professional and credible relationship with the Chicago District of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and its staff. These important liaisons help keep the communication channels open and allow for effective client advocacy and problem solving.
I would like to be involved with HIAS Chicago and give back to my community. What can I do?
There are a number of ways to become involved with HIAS Chicago and to support our mission. Some of the opportunities include volunteering in our citizenship preparation program, making a donation to the agency, and becoming involved in our 100th Anniversary celebration, just to name a few.
If you are interested in exploring the different opportunities with HIAS Chicago, see our Volunteer opportunities under “Get Involved” and please contact us at 312-357-4666 - we will find the right opportunity for you.