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The Citizenship Test

Newly updated in 2015, CLINIC’s study guide for the U.S. citizenship test explains the naturalization testing requirements and contains 13 study units on U.S. history and civics with many colorful and historic photos and illustrations, as well as maps, diagrams, and timelines. It includes a glossary of vocabulary words and test review questions for each unit. There are also discussion questions for each unit, and additional, optional study questions to amplify the content. It is designed for both classroom use and for self-study.

 

 Download the Free Guide

 Read the Guide on Issuu

 

Additional Resources:

CLINIC collects translations of the 100 civics (history and government) questions for the naturalization test here.

CLINIC offers a rapid e-learning course to help train immigration legal staff and volunteers on completing the application for naturalization here.

If you are a service provider looking to establish a citizenship test preparation program, visit our Center for Immigrant Integration site or our Citizenship Toolkit for help and more resources.

Promotional Resources

CLINIC provides materials for you to use to share this guide with clients, colleagues, or friends.

Postcards

These postcards can be printed on Avery templates 5889, 8386, and 8389. Click here to download a grayscale version of the postcard. Click here to download a color version of the postcard.

Flyer

Social Media Graphics

You can use these images to share the guide on your social media platforms:

Click on the link and then right click the image to save to your computer.

 

 

 

 

Have a Question?

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Laura Burdick at lburdick@cliniclegal.org.

Issues: 

A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan

The United States is a nation of immigrants united by a common creed and shared values. With 37 million foreign born residents, the United States’ strength and vitality depends on the contributions of its newest members. However, the integration of a population of this magnitude and diversity cannot be assumed. The pressing policy question becomes: what can be done to promote the integration of this record number of immigrants? A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan proposes a national program to naturalize the eight million immigrants who – based on their years as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) – may qualify to naturalize, as well as the millions more who will become eligible in the near future.1 Citizenship is a significant marker of immigrant integration and a pre-condition to full membership in our constitutional democracy. As a practical matter, naturalization involves immigrants in a range of integration activities. Yet despite its benefits, the United States does surprisingly little to promote this process. In theory, we want eligible immigrants to naturalize, but in practice we do little to encourage or assist them.

 

A More Perfect Union: A National Citizenship Plan setsforth the resources, activities, and partnerships that would be required to naturalize as many eligible immigrants as possible. It calls for a national mobilization in support of citizenship, identifying the roles of government, immigrant service agencies, and other sectors of society in a coordinated plan. It describes a program that could serve as the linchpin of an emerging U.S. immigrant integration strategy.

 

To download the full report - CLICK HERE

 

CHAPTERS:

CHAPTER 1: THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 2: THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 3: THE NATURALIZATION APPLICATION PROCESS

CHAPTER 4: BARRIERS & CHALLENGES POSED BY USCIS IN THE NATURALIZATION PROCESS

CHAPTER 5: SYSTEMIC BARRIERS TO CITIZENSHIP THAT CONGRESS CAN ADDRESS

CHAPTER 6: THE CITIZENSHIP TEST

CHAPTER 7: PREPARING IMMIGRANT LEARNERS FOR CITIZENSHIP

CHAPTER 8: CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUCCESSFUL LOCAL CITIZENSHIP PLAN

CHAPTER 9: NATURALIZATION GROUP APPLICATION WORKSHOPS

CHAPTER 10: RECENT NATURALIZATION AND CITIZENSHIP PROJECTS - LESSONS LEARNED FOR A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM

CHAPTER 11: SECTORS OF SOCIETY SUPPORTING A NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM

CHAPTER 12: COMMENTARIES

 

Recent Decisions on Acquisition and Derivation of Citizenship

Ilissa Mira

The laws regarding acquisition and derivation of citizenship have changed frequently over the years, resulting in different requirements that must be satisfied in order for a U.S. citizen to pass citizenship on to children born abroad.

Two recently decided cases positively interpret statutory language to allow individuals to assert their automatic citizenship. 

Kamara v. Lynch, No. 13-70657 (5th Cir. 2015)

What does it mean to be in the legal custody of a citizen parent for purposes of deriving citizenship?  The Fifth Circuit addressed this issue in the context of INA § 321, the law that was in place in 1998 when Hamid Kamara claimed he derived citizenship after his mother’s naturalization.  Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, the law on derivation of citizenship provided that the naturalization of one parent would grant automatic citizenship to a child where the parents were legally separated and the child was in the custody of the naturalizing parent.  The parent’s naturalization must have occurred while the child was under 18 and the child must have been residing in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident at the time of the parent’s naturalization.  INA § 321 (since repealed by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000).   

Kamara lived with his mother since 1991 and was a 16-year-old LPR when his mother naturalized in 1998.  His parents were divorced in Texas in 1990 but no child custody orders were made.  To demonstrate that he derived citizenship from his mother, the 5th Circuit Court held that Kamara need only prove he was in the “actual uncontested custody” of his U.S. citizen mother.  In so holding, the Court clarified a previous decision in Bustamante-Barrera v. Gonzalez, 447 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. 2006), which requires the naturalizing parent to have “sole legal custody” only when a noncitizen minor’s parents have a joint custody order following divorce or judicial separation. 

The “actual uncontested custody” standard has been the law for decades and has been applied in the Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth Circuit Courts.  Matter of M-, 3 I&N Dec 850 (CO 1950) set forth a two-step test for legal custody.  First, if there is a judicial determination of custody, then the parent to whom custody has been granted has legal custody for INA purposes.  Second, if no legal custody determination has been made, then the parent in “actual uncontested custody” is deemed to have legal custody.”  The Fifth Circuit held that under this rule, the question of “sole legal custody” arises only in cases where a formal custody order exists.  Since no legal custody order was entered in Kamara’s case, the Court found that the Bustamante-Barrera “sole legal custody” rule did not apply.  Though the court determined that Kamara’s mother had actual custody, the case was remanded to determine whether that actual custody was uncontested.

Morales-Santana v. Lynch, No. 11-1252-ag (2ndCir. 2015)

In Morales-Santana v. Lynch, the LPR petitioner raised a constitutional challenge to an acquisition of citizenship law that imposed more restrictive requirements on unwed citizen fathers as compared to unwed citizen mothers.  Morales-Santana was born abroad to an unwed U.S. citizen father and a Dominican mother.  His father legitimated him prior to his 18th birthday and the only issue as to his citizenship was whether his father met the physical presence requirement.  Under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, the law in place at the time of Morales-Santana’s birth, a child born abroad to an unwed citizen mother and a non-citizen father has citizenship at birth as long as the mother had continuous physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for at least one year at some point prior to the child’s birth.  INA § 309(c) (1952).  In contrast, an unwed citizen father can transmit citizenship at birth only if he legitimates the child and was present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth for at least ten years, with at least five of those years occurring after the age of fourteen.  See INA § 301(a)(7) (1952).  Morales-Santana’s father had lived in Puerto Rico for almost 18 years and was just days short of meeting the requirement of five years of physical presence after the age of fourteen.  The Second Circuit held that this disparate treatment based on  gender violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and that the proper remedy is to apply to unwed fathers the less burdensome standard that unwed mothers receive under § 309(c). 

The government argued that the different physical presence requirement for unwed men and women exists to ensure that children acquiring citizenship have an adequate connection to the United States.  However, the court found no support for the assertion that unwed mothers and fathers differed with respect to how long they should be present in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth to ensure that a parent has gained the values of citizenship and can pass them on to their children.   While the court recognized a difference between the way men and women can establish a biological parent-child relationship, it decided that a more stringent physical presence requirement for fathers does not provide any additional assurances that there is a biological relationship between father and child.  The court ultimately held that the statute’s gender based distinction on physical presence requirements is not substantially related to the goal of ensuring a sufficient connection between citizen children and the U.S. and remanded the case to the BIA to apply the less onerous one year continuous presence requirement.

This decision conflicts with that of the Ninth Circuit in Flores-Villar, 536 F.3d 990, in which the court upheld the constitutionality of the same law, despite the gender-disparate requirements.  In 2011 the Supreme Court upheld Flores-Villar in a 4-4 split.

Issues: 
Resources by type: 

CLINIC Webinar, Naturalization for Applicants with Disabilities (March 2015)

Do you know how to help your clients with disabilities to naturalize? Watch this free recorded webinar on the special provisions in the law for people with disabilities such as reasonable accommodations, disability waivers, and oath waivers. Topics covered include eligibility, the application process, and practice tips. We also provide case examples and answer some frequently asked questions. 

This webinar is presented by Laura Burdick, CLINIC Field Support Coordinator and is a part of the Citizenship Toolkit.

More resources can be found in the toolkit, including a Flow Chart of the Disability Waiver Process.

Issues: 
Resources by type: 

Rapid E-Learning: Completing the Application for Naturalization Form N-400

Happy, diverse people waving American flags

CLINIC is updating this self directed e-learning course to reflect form changes by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. CLINIC anticipates the updated course will be available for use by September 30, 2016. In the meantime, you may continue to access the older version of the course

 

CLINIC has created a self directed e-learning course to help train new immigration legal staff and volunteers on completing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The 90 minute course covers: 

  • an overview of the Form N-400 and the requirements for naturalization,
  • steps to complete each part of the form and prepare the naturalization application for mailing,
  • and steps in the naturalization process, including preparing for the naturalization interview.

The course is interactive and incorporates text, images, audio, and video along with opportunities for the participant to check his or her progress in the course through quizzes and a final test. 

At the end of the course participants may complete a course evaluation. Participants who successfully complete the final test and then complete the course evaluation will receive a certificate of course completion. Note that only the person who registered for the course is eligible to receive a certificate of completion; anyone who wants a certificate must register separately for the course. There is a $25 fee for course registration, which provides the individual with 90 days of unlimited access to the course. 

Register Here

Please note, CLINIC affiliates will receive a special registration link that grants access privileges for the course. To access this registration page, Click Here 

This course was created by CLINIC with funding from the New Americans Campaign.

Issues: 

CLINIC Newsletter - March 2015 - VOL. XIX No. 3

In this issue…         

In-Country Refugee Processing: What Can You Do?

Immigration Law Updates

News From the Catholic Network

Question Corner

Center for Immigrant Integration

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Visa Bulletin

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - October 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 10

In this issue…                        

Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God's Creation

Obama Announces In-Country Refugee Processing for Central American Children

News From the Catholic Network

Unaccompanied Children's Issues

Advocacy Update 

State and Local Issues

Law and Practice Feature

Immigration Law Updates

Question Corner

A lawful permanent resident files an I-130 for his spouse in 1994 with his daughter (DOB September 28, 1978) named as derivative.  The priority date is July 15, 1994.  The daughter ages out in 1999 before the F-2A category for Mexico becomes current.  The LPR dad files second I-130 for aged-out derivative daughter in the F-2B category and is able to retain the original priority date. The LPR father subsequently naturalizes in 2012 converting the F-2B petition to the F-1 category. The priority date was close enough to becoming current in 2012 that it triggered the NVC sending out a fee bill to the daughter.  The daughter didn’t receive the notice since she had changed her address.  In September 2014 the NVC sent a final notice indicating that it had terminated the case and destroyed the file.  Assuming you are not able to convince NVC to undo what they did, is there any relief for child?

Stumped?  Find Out Here!

Visa Bulletin

Technical Assistance and Trainings

Position Opening

Resources by type: 

CLINIC Newsletter - July 2014 - VOL. XVIII No. 7

In this issue…                        

Protecting the Vulnerable:  Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

U. S. Department of State Updates Foreign Affairs Manual Guidance

News From the Catholic Network

  • New Subscribers
  • Network Affiliate Agency Profile                                                                                                                                                                      

Advocacy Update


Immigration Law Update

                                                                                                                                                  
Technical Assistance and Trainings

 

Resources

Visa Bulletin

Resources by type: 

New Form N-400 Released by USCIS

By Laura Burdick

 

On February 4, 2014, USCIS released its long-awaited revision of the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization).  A draft of the new form was published in the Federal Register for comment on December 20, 2012 and again on March 20, 2013.  CLINIC submitted comments on the draft together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on February 15, 2013.  The comments are posted on the CLINIC website at https://cliniclegal.org/resources/revisions-to-application-for-naturalization.   

At 21 pages, the new form is significantly longer than the old form, which is only 10 pages long.  The additional length is due in large part to a new bar code that appears at the bottom of each page, more space for residences and children, and approximately 40 additional questions in Part 11 relating to the following: good moral character; military service; group membership; and past involvement with terrorism, persecution, torture, or genocide.  USCIS states that while the eligibility requirements for naturalization have not changed, the additional questions relating to terrorism, persecution, torture, or genocide are necessitated by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.  The new form also includes additional questions about the applicant’s parents, current spouse, and prior spouse(s), and requires a statement concerning the failure to register for the Selective Service prior to age 26.  In addition, the preparer’s statement has been revised and there is a new interpreter’s statement that the applicant and interpreter must sign, if applicable.

On the positive side, there are several changes that will make the form more user-friendly.  The new form has better instructions for completing the sections on employment/education history and children, and there is a new question relating to the age/residency exemptions on the English language test.  Also, the prior question asking applicants to list all trips outside the U.S. of 24 hours or more since becoming a lawful permanent resident has been changed to request only those trips taken during the last five years.

The longer form has implications for applicants, legal service providers, and USCIS adjudicators.  Potential applicants may be intimidated by the new form and may find it less accessible, resulting in more people needing application assistance.  Legal service providers may need more time to complete and review the form, and thus may need to raise their fee for the N-400 or find ways to increase their efficiency in order to continue serving the same number of naturalization clients.  The additional security-related questions make it more important than ever that representatives obtain a copy of the applicant's A-file in certain cases before completing the N-400. USCIS adjudicators may need more time to review the form and conduct naturalization interviews, and this could increase N-400 processing times.

We encourage legal service providers to use a professional, written translation of the questions in Part 11 of the new form, due to complexity of the vocabulary in this section.  Translations in languages commonly spoken by asylees and refugees are especially needed.  CLINIC will collect and share translations of Part 11 on its website to help avoid duplication of effort.  We have also asked USCIS to consider providing the translations.

For group workshops, more time will be needed to complete and review the new form.  The interpreter certification could pose a problem, especially if an interpreter was used only for a few questions, and did not translate every question on the form.  Interpreters may be intimidated or unwilling to sign the certification.  Professional, written translations of Part 11 will be useful for literate applicants, while an interpreter could read the translation for those who are not literate.

The old form will continue to be accepted for 90 days, through May 2, 2014, but it is no longer available on the USCIS website.  CLINIC has posted the old form on its website in the Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops (https://cliniclegal.org/resources/toolkits/toolkit-naturalization-workshops) located under “resources.”  We encourage affiliates to continue using the old form for as long as possible, while obtaining training on the new form.  A USCIS teleconference on the new form will be held on February 20, 2014; CLINIC and the ILRC are conducting a joint webinar on the new form on February 26, 2014.  In addition, there are some educational materials on the new form posted on the N-400 page of the USCIS website.

The new form presents an opportunity for affiliates to encourage lawful permanent residents to apply for citizenship now, while the old form is still accepted, and to conduct group application workshops to facilitate the process for as many people as possible.  CLINIC’s Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops (https://cliniclegal.org/resources/toolkits/toolkit-naturalization-workshops) was recently updated and provides a variety of useful resources for planning and implementing a group workshop.

Issues: 
Resources by type: 

N-400 Filing Tips and other Information from Meeting at USCIS Headquarters

Dear affiliates,

 

USCIS recently revised its form N-400, Application for Naturalization.  The agency will now only accept the newest version of Form N-400, dated 09/13/13.

On February 20, 2014, USCIS hosted a national stakeholder call with the public to provide an overview of and answer questions about changes made to the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400.  Following the call, several nonprofit organizations and advocates met with USCIS to seek answers to the questions and concerns the new N-400 generated.

Below is a series of questions submitted by advocates to USCIS Headquarters regarding the new Application for Naturalization, Form N-400, as well as answers provided by USCIS during a meeting with advocates on April 24, 2014. Please note that this is not an official USCIS document.  The questions to USCIS are in bold type, the answers by USCIS are in red type, an explanation of the question is in regular type, and CLINIC's comments are in italics. 

USCIS has also issued a list of Filing Tips for the new Form N-400.  Many of the issues raised in the tips are also explained below.

 

Contributors:  Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC); Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles; American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA); Immigration Advocacy Network (IAN); National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).


 

Stakeholder Meeting with USCIS Regarding New N-400

Date: April 24, 2014

 

 

General Questions

(1)  Will USCIS accept forms that have both electronically input information and handwritten answers?

It is often the case that applicants and representatives filling out the N-400 form electronically, may need to include handwritten answers in the form, both because the electronic version does not permit answers in certain formats and for purposes of accuracy. For example, applicants do not often recall exact dates. Many times applicants only recall the month and year, or prefer indicating that the date is an approximation or “Present.”

Some local USCIS offices have informed practitioners that if they are filling out the form electronically, they should not include any handwritten answers, because doing so will delay processing or not upload information properly into USCIS’s database.  Our concern is that not allowing applicants to include handwritten answers where they believe it is necessary for accuracy purposes will prevent applicants from providing accurate information.  Also, in workshop settings, it is often the case that Forms G-28 and N-400 are partially completed(electronically) ahead of time and the remainder of the form by hand.  Requiring applicants to submit forms that are either entirely completed by hand or electronically will present an additional challenge for applicants and practitioners, and may potentially cause applicants to submit less than accurate information.

Yes, USCIS will accept forms that have both electronically-input and handwritten information, and processing will not be delayed.  The agency recommends applicants to use one method or the other.However, if the dropdown menu does not include the appropriate option, you may handwrite it in.  If you have typed your information into a form with a barcode, do not make changes by crossing out and entering new information by hand.  Instead, make the correction on the computer and re-print that page of the form. 

(a)   When filling out the form electronically, how should month/day/year be entered, if the exact date is unknown?

If the exact date is unknown, leave that section blank.  If some, but not all of the information is known, write that by hand on the form or explain on an additional sheet of paper.  The agency is working to add an option to indicate that the response is unknown.

 

Advocates recommended that USCIS add an option "approximate" to the form to permit applicants to complete the date section even if the exact day is unknown.

 

(2) Will USCIS accept electronically filled out applications that do not have a barcode?

Some applicants and providers have had difficulty downloading the revised form that shows the 2-dimensional (“2D”) barcode.  For some, this is due to technology issues. However, for other providers, their form programs do not have barcode capability. This means they can fillout the form electronically, but the barcode will not show up and, therefore, will not capture electronically input information. 

Yes, such applications will be processed using Optical Character Recognition software, 

Make sure that you download the pdf form and use the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat to properly completeand save the barcoded forms.  Some internet browsers work better than others. 

Note from advocates: people have had success using Internet Explorer to be sure the barcode is showing and test print it. 

How will “additional pages” be processed when the N-400 is completed electronically? 

The revised N-400 instructions state that “If extra space is needed to answer any question, attach an additional sheet(s) of paper. You must provide the following information on the top of each additional page…” (see page 2 of instructions).This is likely to be done in a Microsoft Word document or blank sheet of paper, which will not include the 2D Barcode. How will this affect processing? What steps do applicants and providers need to take to ensure that additional information/addendums are taken into consideration?

Additional pages will be scanned and processed with no delay.  Also see the filing tips prepared by the Office of Intake and Document Production.

 
(3)   If someone applies using the previous version of the N-400, before May 5, 2014, will USCIS interview the applicant based on the questions in the new version or the version the applicant submitted?

Questions asked at naturalization interviews are based on eligibility requirements, not on the application form.  USCIS adjudicators may ask questions from the new form, even if the pre-May 2, 2014 form was submitted. 

 

(4)   What should be entered if the applicant does not know, for example, a child’s A-number?

Leave the section blank, and include a written explanation on a separate page.

 

(5)   If information is unavailable (e.g., home address of current spouse who left his family 10 years ago), how should the applicant answer this question?

Write “unknown” in the address field, and explain on a separate sheet of paper.

 

(6)   Suppose an applicant files the old N-400 well before 5/5/14 along with a fee waiver request (I-912), but USCIS erroneously rejects the fee waiver and returns the application to the applicant at such time that the applicant is unable to file the old N-400 again before 5/5/14, will USCIS accept the old (originally submitted) N-400 in that circumstance?

Note: we are waiting for guidance in response to this question.

 

(7)   How do applicants from American Samoa or Swains Island (US Nationals) indicate they do not have an A-number?  

Many of the fields in the revised N-400, including the A-number field, do not accept “N/A”. The A-number field only accepts a 9-digit response. Will there be any delays or problems if this space is left blank? Similarly, US Nationals are not permanent residents and therefore do not have permanent resident cards. However, the N-400 instructions instruct applicants to enter “N/A” if an item is not applicable or if the answer is “none” (see page 2 of instructions). Since this question is not applicable to US Nationals, how should they respond to this item?

Leave this section blank.

Part 4: Information About Your Residence

(1)   According to the instructions, applicants who received benefits under VAWA may provide a safe address. What address (if any) do applicants enter if they did not receive VAWA benefits, but spent some time at a shelter with a confidential address?

Provide a safe address, or provide only the city and state, and clarify the response at the interview.

 

(2)   Is the +4 of the ZIP code required?

No.


Part 5: Information About Your Parents

(1)   The instruction to Part 5 advise applicants with US citizen parents to visit the USCIS website for further information (presumably on derivation and acquisition of citizenship).  The link provided (www.uscis.gov), directs applicants to the USCIS website homepage, which does not immediately provide information about derivation or acquisition of citizenship. Would USCIS consider providing a different link that directs applicants to a specific part of the website with relevant information?

 Yes, USCIS will include the proper link in the filing tips, and will include it on the form the next time it is revised.

 

(2)   How should an applicant respond to Part 5. Item 1, if her parents were married, but not to each other, at the time of her birth?

 Answer no.

 

Part 7: Information About Your Employment and School You Attended

(1)   If the applicant is or was unemployed, where does she write “unemployed” – at “employer/school name” or “your occupation” and how does she answer the rest of the questions in that section?

 Indicate “unemployed” in the section that asks for the name of your employer.  Enter the dates of unemployment. 

 

 

Part 8: Time Outside of the United States

(1)   What is USCIS’s reasoning behind limiting the information requested in Part 11. Item 9.B. to trips taken outside the United States during the last five years?

While this is a welcomed change to the previous version of the N-400, which required applicants to list all absences since becoming a lawful permanent resident, it is unclear whether this change on the form also indicates a shift in investigating trips prior to the statutory period, and issues such as abandonment of permanent resident status. For example, advocates in Los Angeles have received mixed information from local offices. Some have been told that USCIS will no longer investigate abandonment issues, only physical presence and continuous residence. Others have been told that USCIS will continue to investigate abandonment on a case by case basis. 

While the form has been simplified to require less information, USCIS will continue to investigate abandonment of residence from the time the applicant became a lawful permanent resident.  Other agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection, may have information related to the issue of abandonment.

 

The November 7, 2011 USCIS Memo, Revised Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Removable Aliens, established a list circumstances when the agency would consider the issuance of a Notice to Appear and the institution of removal proceedings to be a priority.  Those circumstances included where an NTA was required by statute or regulation and where there were cases that involved public safety threats, criminal offenses, and fraud. Cases involving abandonment of residency were not cases identified as NTA "priorities" in the November 11, 2011 memo.

 

(a)  What would trigger an investigation of abandonment and what guidance will USCIS be issuing to applicants?

 The statutory requirements for naturalization have not changed.  No additional information will be issued to applicants. 

 

Part 9: Information About Your Marital History

(1)   Does “separated”in Part 9. Item 1. mean legally separated?

 The revised form provides the new category of “separated” to allow the applicant to indicate how his/her marriage ended.  Many clients have been estranged from spouses for many years - does this constitute separated?

Yes, “separated” means legally separated.

 

(2)   What if current spouse’s previous spouse information (Part 9. Item. 8) is unknown? How will the absence of that information (in whole or in part) affect the applicant’s application/eligibility for naturalization?

Provide a written explanation on a separate page.  Eligibility will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

 

Part 10: Information About Children

(1)   How should children’s addresses be listed if they reside in an area without a formal postal address?

 Provide information to the best of your ability, attaching a written explanation if necessary.

 

Part 11: Additional Information

(1)   Can Part 11. Item 7, be read to mean “required” tax return?

Many applicants do not earn enough (or any) income to file a tax return.  In those cases, should applicants be checking the 'yes' or 'no' box?

No, the question cannot be read to mean a “required” tax return.  Check the “yes” box and provide an explanation on a separate page.

There are many instances when filing a tax return is not required.  There may be a perfectly legitimate reason that the applicant is answering this question with a "yes" answer.

 

(2)   Can USCIS clarify what “badly hurting”(Part 11.Item 14.d.)someone means?

Neither the Form N-400 nor its accompanying instructions provide a definition for this term. “Badly hurting” is a vague/ambiguous term that can be subject to one’s own interpretation of hurting. For example, would slapping a neighbor in the face constitute trying to hurt or badly hurting someone?

The language of the form was changed to offer simplified language.  No further clarification can be given.  USCIS will look at the circumstances of each case. 

Note from advocates: this can likely be read to mean intentionally and severely injuring another person as specified on Form I-485, question 14c.  See that form for an understanding of the intent behind this question.

 

(3)   Can USCIS clarify the following terms:“self-defense unit,”“police unit,” and“rebel group”?

No further clarification can be given. 

 

(4)   We have the position that victims of genocide and torture should not be required to answer “yes” to Part 11. Items 14A. and 14.B., is that also USCIS’s position?

A literal reading of the question, “were you ever involved in any way with…” suggests the applicant must answer in the affirmative, even if she or he was the victim.  This seems inconsistent with trying to identify perpetrators of these acts.

If the applicant was solely the victim of genocide or torture, answer no. 

 

(5)   Regarding paramilitary membership(Part 11. Item. 15.B.),what if applicants belong(ed) to a paramilitary branch organization registered in the United States?

Respond “no.”  USCIS is not looking for organizations that are associated with the United States military, such as ROTC. 

 

(6)   If the applicant was a prisoner in a labor camp, should the applicant answer in the affirmative to Part 11. Item. 16.?

 Note: we are waiting for guidance in response to this question.

 
(7)   How does USCIS define “weapons training” (Part 11.Item. 19)? Would this include recreational martial arts classes, target practice at a shooting range?

 USCIS requires applicants to respond “yes” even if weapons training was recreational.  Explain the circumstances on a separate sheet of paper. 

(a)   For someone who has received weapons training, how would that affect his/her eligibility for naturalization?

Applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

It is very important to discuss all the facts concerning  military service, police service, self-defense participation, weapons training, etc. with the applicant.  These activities may be perfectly innocent and not involve activities that would bar naturalization – or they may involve conduct that would make the applicant ineligible for naturalization.  A “yes” response to these questions alone does not indicate ineligibility, but does require detailed discussion with the applicant.

 

(8)   Would Part 11. Item. 22.include speeding, never arrested?

 No

 Note: advocates recommend that applicants continue to list traffic violations on the appropriate place on the application. 

 

(9)  Regarding Part 11. Item 28.B., if the applicant was only in jail for a few hours, does she need to include that information given that the question only provides space for “days,” “months,” and “years”?

Yes. Indicate one day.

 

(10) We assume that Part 11. Item.30, regarding misrepresentation to obtain any public benefit in the U.S., means willful and knowing, is that correct? How would a “yes” answer impact an applicant’s eligibility for naturalizations?

No, the question is not limited to willful and knowing misrepresentation.  Answer yes regardless of intent.  Applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

 

(11) USCIS clarify who is required to submit a Status Information Letter from the Selective Service (Part 11.Item. 46.C.2.)?

The revised N-400 states that a male applicant who lived in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 26, but did not register with the Selective Service and is now 26 years or older, must attach a statement explaining why he did not register and a status information letter from the Selective Services.  On the N-400 Stakeholder call, when asked, a USCIS representative said a 50 year-old applicant would not have to submit a status information letter because he would be outside the statutory period. Please clarify.

Applicants between the ages of 26 and 31 should provide a status information letter.  Applicants over the age of 31 need not. 

 

(12) Are applicants required to submit a status information letter with their Naturalization application?

The new form explicitly states that the applicant must submit a status information letter from the  Selective Service along with an explanation. It has taken up to 30 days to obtain the status information letter and we are concerned that some potential applicants may not apply/delay applying due to this additional burden. Would USCIS allowapplicants to bring their status letter to their interview instead or mailing it with their application? 

Applicants may bring the letter to their interview.

 

(13) There are a few nations where serving in the army is a mandatory requirement (e.g.  Korea). These people get stationed randomly, and if they were stationed as prison guard, how would that affect their eligibility?

 Answer yes, and explain on a separate sheet of paper.  Applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

 

(14) If the applicant was a child soldier (impressed against his will), is an explanation necessary and/or will this be held against him regarding good moral character?

Yes, explain on a separate sheet of paper.  Applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis.

 

Part 14: Statement of Applicants Who Used an Interpreter

(1)   Can USCIS provide additional guidance on who is expected to complete the interpreters section, especially for those assisting family members or those volunteering in group processing events?

Currently, the instructions to Part 14, seem to suggest that only those whoanswered “yes” to Part 2., Item Numbers 11 or 12., and during the completion of the form used an interpreter to interpret the questions on the form, are required to complete this section (as well as the interpreter), is this correct?

(2)   If a provider used a written translation of questions in Part 11 to interview the applicant, must the provider then complete the interpreter statement?

Anyone who interpreted or who shared written translations must complete this section, even if the applicant is not requesting an exemption based on age and language ability.

Note: advocates are continuing to discuss this issue.

 


 

CLINIC continues to advocate with USCIS on many of the issues related to the new N-400 raised in the notes above.  Please continue to share your experiences and problems with us by emailing Rommel Calderwood at rcalderwood@cliniclegal.org.

 

 

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Programs: 

Fee Waivers for Naturalization: Eligibility, Workshop Issues, Problem Areas

 Join us for a free webinar on fee waivers for naturalization applications as we discuss the following topics.

  • What are the eligibility requirements? 
  • What types of supporting documents are best to submit?  
  • What should I watch out for when preparing fee waivers for naturalization?  
  • What's the best way to incorporate fee waivers into naturalization workshops?   
  • What are some of the problem areas?

The presenters are Laura Burdick, CLINIC, Field Support Coordinator; Daniel Sharp, Legal Director, CARECEN LA; and Debbie Smith, Senior Attorney, CLINIC.

 

Click Here to download the Powerpoints for this webinar.

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Webinar: What's New About the New N-400?

The new 21-page N-400 is 11 pages longer than the previous form and includes new questions related to security and child soldier related issues.  The webinar will discuss changes in the format and content of the new N-400. The presenters will be Laura Burdick, CLINIC Field Support Coordinator, Aidin Castillo, ILRC Immigration Policy Attorney, and Debbie Smith, CLINIC Senior Attorney.

Download the Powerpoint slides for this webinar

 

Held on 2/26/14

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Citizenship for Us: A Handbook on Naturalization & Citizenship 6th Edition

Citizenship for Us is a comprehensive guide to the naturalization process that provides detailed information on citizenship eligibility, requirements, and benefits and a step-by-step explanation of the N-400 (Application for Naturalization).  The guide includes 13 study units on U.S. history and civics, historic photos, timelines, a sample naturalization interview, and a chapter on civic participation.  It is geared for immigrants, community leaders, ESL teachers, and other non-attorneys.

Hard copies are also available for $40. Click Here to purchase.

INTRODUCTION & TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE: The Citizenship Decision

CHAPTER TWO: Citizenship Requirements

CHAPTER THREE: Overview of the Process

CHAPTER FOUR: Filling out the N-400

CHAPTER FIVE: The Citizenship Test Study Guide - RECENTLY UPDATED: Click Here for New Version

CHAPTER SIX: The Interview

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Disability Waiver and Accommodations

CHAPTER EIGHT: Citizenship for Children

CHAPTER NINE: The Naturalization Oath Ceremony

CHAPTER TEN: Now That You Are A Citizen

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Practicing Citizenship

 

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Recent Circuit Court Cases on Derivation and Acquisition

Recent Circuit Court Cases on Derivation and Acquisition

By Jennie Guilfoyle and Debbie Smith

Derivation of Citizenship

Derivative citizenship under former INA § 321(a) does not require LPR status prior to turning 18, as long as the individual was residing in the United States before age 18, the Second Circuit held on August 12, 2013.  Nwozuzu v. Holder (2d Cir. 2013)

Kelechi Nwozuzu was born in Nigeria on March 8, 1977.  In 1982 he moved to the United States with his parents, who entered in F-1 nonimmigrant status as students.  In 1994 both his parents naturalized.  On February 6, 1995, when Nwozuzu was 17 years old, he applied for adjustment of status based on an I-130 his father had filed for him in 1990. That adjustment application was not adjudicated until after he had turned 18; he became a lawful permanent resident when he was 21.

Nwozuzu was put into removal proceedings on June 16, 2005, following three convictions in 2004 for possession of a loaded firearm and of marijuana.  He applied for citizenship while in proceedings.  His application was denied, but in October 2006, the Immigration Judge terminated his proceedings on the grounds that DHS had failed to establish that Nwozuzu was an alien.  DHS appealed this decision to the BIA, which held in 2008 that the IJ’s ruling was incorrect – that Nwozuzu was in fact an alien.  The BIA remanded the case to the IJ for further removal proceedings.  The IJ ruled against Nwozuzu, and ordered him removed; the BIA issued a final removal order in November 2011.  Nwozuzu appealed that decision to the Second Circuit.

The Second Circuit, looking closely at the language of former INA § 321(a), the derivation of citizenship statute that was in effect at the time Nwozuzu’s parents naturalized, and at the time he turned 18 (it was in effect from October 5, 1978 until February 26, 2001), determined that it does not require that a non-citizen child have resided in the United States as an LPR in order to derive citizenship upon the naturalization of both parents.

Former INA § 321(a) allowed derivation of citizenship by children born outside the United States upon:

  • The naturalization of both parents
  • While the child was under the age of 18
  • While the child was residing in the United States
  • Provided that the child was residing in the United States “pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence at the time of the naturalization of the parent last naturalized or thereafter begins to reside permanently in the U.S. while under the age of 18 years.”

The Second Circuit focused on the second prong of point 4, drawing a distinction between residing “pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence” and “residing permanently in the U.S. while under the age of 18,” holding that “reside permanently” means something different and less than lawful permanent residence. In Nwozuzu’s case, the court found that his application for adjustment of status in February 1995 was a sufficient indicator of his intention to remain permanently in the United States to constitute “residing permanently” under the derivation statute.  The fact that Nwozuzu was under 18 when his parents naturalized, and under 18 when he subsequently demonstrated his intention to live permanently in the United States meant that he did in fact derive citizenship.

In the Second Circuit, therefore, LPR status is not an absolute requirement for derivation under former INA § 321(a). Note, however, that several other circuits have examined this issue and come to the opposite conclusion. The Ninth and Eleventh Circuits have both held that the statute does require lawful permanent residence.  See U.S. v. Forey-Quintero, 626 F.3d 1323 (11th Cir. 2010); Romero-Ruiz v. Mukasey, 538 F.3d. 1057 (9th Cir. 2008).

The current derivation statute, INA § 320, which applies in cases in which the last qualifying event was on or after February 27, 2001, specifies that in order to derive citizenship, the child must be living in the United States “pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.”

Acquisition of Citizenship

In order for an unmarried U.S. citizen father to transmit citizenship to his child born abroad, he must meet the requirements specified by the version of the immigration statute, INA § 309, in effect at the time of the child's birth.  One of the requirements under INA § 309 for a child born in 1964 is that the child was legitimated while under age 21 under the laws of the child's or father's residence.  In its opinion, Saldana Iracheta v. Holder, No. 12-60087 (September 11, 2013), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the BIA applied a non-existent provision of the Mexican Constitution in its erroneous decision that the child was not legitimated.  The Fifth Circuit analyzed the question of the child's legitimation by examining the relevant Mexican state statute and determined that the child had been legitimated and therefore had acquired United States citizenship at birth.

Sigifredo Saldana Iracheta was born in 1964 in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas to a U.S. citizen father and a Mexican citizen mother.  Although Saldana's parents never married, the couple had eight children together.  Saldana came to the United States and was granted temporary status as an agricultural worker in 1989.  Following a criminal conviction, he was placed in proceedings before the immigration court.

Saldana's citizenship claim required that he show:

  • He was legitimated before the age of 21 under the laws of the Mexican state where he resided or was domiciled as a child; and
  • His father resided in the United States for at least ten years, five or which were after the age of 14, at the time of Saldana's birth.

Saldana attempted to demonstrate that he acquired U.S. citizenship from his unmarried citizen father, but when he could not locate documents to support the claim, he was deported from the United States.

Saldana returned to the United States and filed several N-600s based on having acquired citizenship.  DHS and the AAO denied Saldana's N-600s, relying on several decisions by the BIA, including Matter of Reyes, 16 I&N Dec. 436 (BIA 1978).  Matter of Reyes held that under the Mexican Constitution, Article 314, a child may be legitimated only by the subsequent marriage of his or her parents.  In 2012, DHS reinstated Saldana's removal order and Saldana requested that the Fifth Circuit review the reinstatement order.

In its decision, the Fifth Circuit stated that DHS rejected Saldana's citizenship claim relying on Matter of Reyes for the proposition that Article 314 of the Mexican Constitution permits legitimation only where the child's parents later marry.  The court noted that "the BIA's mistake in citing a non-existent constitutional provision, perpetuated and uncorrected by DHS in subsequent years, prevented the agency from making the correct inquiries or possibly from apply the correct law in subsequent cases." (Saldana Iracheta v. Holder, pg. 7, n.3).  Determining that under the Mexican civil code for the state of Tamaulipas Saldana was properly legitimated, the court found that Saldana established that he is a U.S. citizen.

The Saldana Iracheta v. Holder case reminds us that the issue of legitimation under a foreign statute is a complicated one and that the BIA can sometimes reach the wrong conclusion.  As advocates we need to challenge BIA decisions when we believe they are incorrectly decided.

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Citizenship for Us: A Handbook on Naturalization & Citizenship 6th Edition

Price: $40.00

Citizenship for Us is a comprehensive guide to the naturalization process that provides detailed information on citizenship eligibility, requirements, and benefits and a step-by-step explanation of the N-400 (Application for Naturalization).  The guide includes 13 study units on U.S. history and civics, historic photos, timelines, a sample naturalization interview, and a chapter on civic participation.  It is geared for immigrants, community leaders, ESL teachers, and other non-attorneys.

Hard copies are also available for $40.

INTRODUCTION & TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE: The Citizenship Decision

CHAPTER TWO: Citizenship Requirements

CHAPTER THREE: Overview of the Process

CHAPTER FOUR: Filling out the N-400

CHAPTER FIVE: The Citizenship Test Study Guide

CHAPTER SIX: The Interview

CHAPTER SEVEN: The Disability Waiver and Accommodations

CHAPTER EIGHT: Citizenship for Children

CHAPTER NINE: The Naturalization Oath Ceremony

CHAPTER TEN: Now That You Are A Citizen

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Practicing Citizenship

 

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Bipartisan Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

This morning the New York Times published a bi-partisan statement of principles outlining four goals of immigration reform.  CLINIC welcomes this bi-partisan leadership in keeping the conversation moving.  The principles include a path to citizenship and relief for agricultural workers and highly skilled graduates.  The Senators also outline plans for continued enforcement along the border as well as a strong employment verification system.  Read the whole statement here.

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"Mega" Group Application Workshop

The purpose of the webinar is to educate charitable immigration legal staff on the unique differences of planning and implementing a large, "mega" group application workshop for naturalization and deferred action.

Click here for the webinar slides.

Held on September 12, 2012.

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Citizenship for Elders: Issues and Options in Test Preparation

The citizenship test, especially the English language requirement, often poses a major challenge for older applicants.  How can citizenship teachers and program administrators best meet the special needs of an older learner?  What are the best strategies for success?  Join us for this webinar about promising practices in instruction and program design for elders in your community.  We will also discuss suggestions for learning activities, cultural considerations, and strategies to address common health issues.  This webinar is based on CLINIC's handbook by the same title, which is being updated for release of a second edition shortly.  CLINIC Field Support Coordinators Leya Speasmaker and Laura Burdick present together with local agency staff.

Held on June 28, 2012.

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Toolkit: 

Citizenship for Elders: Issues and Options in Test Preparation, 2nd Edition (2012)

Citizenship for Elders is a unique handbook for teachers and administrators on creating and managing a citizenship program for the older learner.  This handbook brings together the observations and insights of teachers from across the country on older learners from a wide range of cultures.  It is based on a nationwide survey of 200 programs.  It identifies the issues in teaching elders and makes recommendations for instruction and program design.  The recommendations are practice-based, with a focus on innovative and promising practices.  The suggestions on learning activities, cultural considerations for the classroom, and strategies to address common health issues will be particularly helpful to teachers.  CLINIC hopes this free handbook will help service providers strengthen their programs and assist many more elders to secure their future in the U.S. by becoming citizens.

Click Here to View "Citizenship for Elders"

Naturalization Group Application Workshops

Held on November 17, 2011. 

What are the benefits of naturalization group application workshops?  How can you plan for a successful event?  This webinar discusses workshop models and approaches; planning for a workshop; and stages of the workshop event.  Speakers also provide tips for working with the media and recruiting volunteers.  The presenters are Laura Burdick, Naturalization Project Coordinator, CLINIC and Lizette Marquez-Escobedo, National Director of Civic Engagement, NALEO Educational Fund.

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Strategies for Naturalizing the Most Vulnerable Applicants Webinar

Held on September 12, 2011.  This webinar discusses several key strategies for helping vulnerable applicants overcome barriers in the naturalization process.  Topics include disability waivers, reasonable accommodations for applicants with disabilities, due consideration on the citizenship test, and fee waivers for low-income applicants.  The presenters are Laura Burdick, Naturalization Project Coordinator, CLINIC; Alla Shagalova, Associate Director, Immigration Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society; and Amy Tenney, Immigration Legal Services Staff Attorney, World Relief. 

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Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit

Citizenship test preparation and quality legal services go hand in hand in assisting an immigrant along the path to citizenship. A prospective bill for comprehensive immigration reform will most likely bring changes in legal and language requirements for citizenship. It is the job of all legal service providers and teaching professionals working with the foreign born to anticipate these requirements and prepare clients in advance. The Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit will be helpful to anyone seeking ways to better serve the foreign born as they prepare to naturalize.

Please also see CLINIC’s Creating a Workplace ELL Program for information on how to partner with local businesses and implement a workplace English Language Learning program.

Click on the chapters below to read sections of the Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit

  1. Introduction: Tools for a Legal Program Interested in Starting a Citizenship Program - Designed for legal immigration programs interested in creating a citizenship program.
  2. A Client’s  Road to Citizenship - Follow the client’s road to citizenship with this chart that details the step-by-step process a client follows in order to become a U.S. citizen.
  3. Program Needs for Legal and Language Service Programs Combined - Compare the programmatic and equipment needs for legal and language programs, and learn what components of these two programs can be shared.
  4. Citizenship Program Models - Many citizenship programs start small and grow over time. This chart will identify easy services to implement now plus provide ideas for services to plan for in the future.
  5. Planning for a Citizenship Program - Creating a legal and language service program requires a lot of planning and thought. A sample Logic Model is provided to assist program development and a blank template can be printed for individual use.
  6. Program Development - Funding must be considered when planning to open a new program or to offer new services. Use this resource to learn about possible program standards required by funders as well as potential sources of funding.
  7. Integrating Technology into your Program - The use of technology is becoming increasingly important in the legal and language services field. This chart will pinpoint technological advances and improvements programs can make today and into the future.
  8. Sample Course Outlines for Citizenship Class - Click here to view sample course outlines for both ELL-based civics classes and citizenship classes.  
  9. Training  and other Resources - Visit this page to access resources that can be used for planning legal and language service programs.
  10. FAQs - Find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding a citizenship preparation program.
  11. Terminology - Learn the definitions of commonly used terms and acronyms.

Questions? Contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org.

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Translations of Citizenship Test Questions

Translations of the U.S. History/Government Test Questions

The translations listed here were completed by USCIS and community organizations throughout the country. For translations completed by community organizations, the organization's contact information is included on the translation.

***Please note that some information, such as the name of the President and Speaker of the House, changes regularly and may not be up to date. Other information, such as the name of the applicant’s Senator and Governor, will vary depending on where the applicant lives. 

Translations done by USCIS

 

Translations done by community organizations 

 

CLINIC Study Guide for the Citizenship Test

 

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Increasing Refugee Civic Participation: Starting with the Schools

Sept. 23, 2008

This web-based CLINIC training for refugee service providers offers organizations tools for developing their own efforts to increase refugee parent involvement in the school system.  The training explores the benefits and challenges of engaging refugee parents in the school system, ways organizations can promote refugee parent involvement in the schools, different models and approaches to parent involvement, and where to start. 

 

This training is presented by Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit Development and Pluralism and is offered through CLINIC's project, "Technical Assistance to Promote Refugee Citizenship & Civic Participation," which is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

To download the Power Point presentation, click here.

 

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Strategies for Naturalizing the Most Vulnerable Applicants Handbook

Refugees and immigrants strongly desire U.S. citizenship. Yet, many of them, especially those who are elderly, disabled, low-income, low-literate, and limited English proficient, face serious challenges in the naturalization process. These challenges can impede their integration and their civic participation in U.S. society.

This handbooks outlines strategies for helping these particular populations naturalize.

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At-Risk Reports

In 2000-2001, CLINIC published a series of reports on immigration issues based on numerous case studies. These are not current reports.

The reports identify, track, and examine the impact of our nation's laws and immigration policies on at-risk immigrants. They illustrate particularly compelling problems faced by immigrants, clear explanations of the law at the root of such problems, and other research.

To order hardcopies of these reports, please complete this form and mail a $10 check or money order to CLINIC, 415 Michigan Ave. NE, Suite 200, Washington DC 20017.