We guide clients through the citizenship process, ensuring them full protection and equal opportunities under U.S. law. Service areas include:
- Naturalization applications
- Medical disability waivers
- A multi-lingual telephone hotline
- Interpreter assistance for the disabled
- Advocacy and Problem Solving with the Citizenship and Immigration Service
HIAS Chicago recommends that immigrants of all ages apply to become U.S. citizens as soon as they are eligible. Becoming a U.S. citizen provides you with the opportunity to fully participate in American life. With U.S. citizenship you may travel outside the U.S. with ease, bring immediate relatives to resettle in the U.S., vote in local and national elections, access certain public benefits and apply for certain government jobs. U.S. citizenship is also the only absolute protection against deportation.
To become a citizen you must be at least 18 years of age, be a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a United States citizen), be able to demonstrate that you can read, write, speak and understand basic English (or qualify for a waiver of these requirements because of a documented medical disability), and be of good moral character. HIAS Chicago’s application services are tailored to meet the needs of each age group and geographic location, providing access to professionally trained, bilingual staff throughout the community, who will assist you in evaluating your eligibility and in completing and processing the necessary documents for application.
Children of naturalized parents, who were under the age of 18 at the time of their parents’ naturalization, automatically derive U.S. citizenship through their parents’ naturalization. HIAS Chicago recommends that in addition to obtaining a U.S. passport, each child of naturalized parents apply for a Certificate of Citizenship as permanent documentation of their citizenship status. HIAS Chicago can assist you in applying for a Certificate of Citizenship.
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 offers clients and their family members guidance on their disability waiver applications, consultation between HIAS Chicago staff and their medical doctor about the criteria utilized by the Immigration Service 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.
The HIAS Chicago Citizenship Hotline offers a personal response to questions and concerns through individual telephone contact with a bilingual, culturally sensitive immigration caseworker. This hotline is especially valuable because the public is often unable to directly access information from the Immigration Service regarding its policies and procedures and may be unfamiliar with the impact of the immigration laws.
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 the citizenship interview and provide interpreter services; and when necessary, to provide advocacy on behalf of the client with immigration adjudicators and supervisors.
Through its strong, working relationship with the Immigration Service, HIAS Chicago assists its clients by formally inquiring 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 Office, or written inquiries to the appropriate processing center. In addition, HIAS Chicago, along with partnering community-based agencies, meets regularly with the Immigration Service to discuss overall issues related to the processing and adjudication of benefits.