Newly-minted American citizen Afiavi Amouzoo had one word to describe to the Free Citizenship Workshop: magic.
When asked about her experience at the workshop, Amouzoo replied, “All I had to do was give them my ID and my green card and then it was just like magic!”
An aspiring nurse and resident of Chicago for the past seven years, Amouzoo came to the US as a refugee in 2006. Thanks to the outreach of the United African Organization (UAO), Amouzoo attended the Free Citizenship Workshop and received American citizenship this past summer.
Amouzoo’s path to American citizenship started one fateful day a year or so back when she drove her cousin to an appointment at UAO’s offices located on the IIT campus. Her cousin, the owner and operator of a daycare business, was receiving assistance from UAO in filling out paperwork. While waiting for her cousin, Amouzoo met UAO Program Coordinator Nancy Asirifi-Otchere and received a brochure for the Free Citizenship Workshop. In April of 2013, she attended the Free Citizenship Workshop and received citizenship a few months later.
Born in Togo, Amouzoo greatly values the many job and educational opportunities in the US. Despite having received her diploma in Togo, Amouzoo encountered great difficulties in finding a job there. “Life was not bad, but it was difficult to get a job. So I came here to study and have a better life,” Amouzoo said.
Since becoming an American citizen, Amouzoo has acquired many new benefits. As an American citizen, she now has the ability to return home to Togo for visits, a privilege previously prohibited while she was still a refugee.
Amouzoo also sees citizenship as important for her own job security. She knows others whose professional advancement has been hindered by their green card status.
Amouzoo is grateful for the services provided to her by UAO and plans to volunteer with UAO in the future. ”I want to help. I want to do something for the community and for the organization because they helped me,” she said.
For all those considering attending the workshop and applying for citizenship, she has a simple message, “I would encourage them to do it, to go to the workshop and get it done.”
by Max Woxland, UAO Intern
On January 27, 2013, the governor of Illinois signed Senate Bill 957 into law, allowing undocumented immigrants in Illinois to obtain a temporary visitor driver’s license (TVDL). TVDLs are currently available to other categories of immigrants who cannot obtain a social security number, such as foreign students, spouses and children of temporary workers, and long-term visitors. The new law extends the TVDL to undocumented immigrants who have lived at least one year in Illinois.
The TVDL enables an undocumented immigrant to drive legally in Illinois, without being arrested. It does not change the immigration status of its holder, and is not considered a valid form of ID. That is, it cannot be used to board an airplane or enter into a federal government building, for example, but it may be used by hospitals and first responders to indicate the license holder’s name and address. A TVDL is visually distinct from a regular driver’s license; it has a purple color scheme rather than the red color scheme of the regular license.
The TVDL is available for driver’s license class D, L, or M (cars and motorcycles) and is valid for three years. A TVDL holder is required to have current liability insurance on the vehicle for the license to be valid.
Secretary of State (SOS) offices will begin the process of issuing TVDLs to undocumented immigrants in December 2013. An appointment is required before submitting an application. Starting mid-November, undocumented immigrants can start making appointments to apply for TVDLs at selected SOS offices by calling 885-212-2687 or visiting www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
In order to apply for the TVDL, an undocumented immigrant must have lived for at least one year in Illinois, and is required to have valid car liability insurance and pass the applicable vision, written, and driving exams. The application fee is $30 ($35 for motorcycles).
After making an appointment, the applicant will be required to go to an SOS office and present the following documents:
- A valid government-issued ID that indicates name and date of birth.
- This may be a valid, unexpired foreign passport or a Consular Card (only for Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador)
- A document that contains a written signature.
- For example: unexpired foreign passport, consular card, court order, credit card, US government issued ID, mortgage loan agreement, or Mexican electoral card.
- A document that proves 12-month residency in Illinois.
- For example: bank statement, utility bill, home insurance policy, certified school transcript, school tuition invoice.
- Two documents that prove current address.
- For example: consular card, certified school transcript, bank statement within past 90 days, utility bill, home insurance policy, certified school transcript, school tuition invoice.
Applicants are allowed to bring an interpreter to assist with the application process. After the application is reviewed and approved by SOS, the TVDL will be issued and sent by mail. Only SOS offices are authorized to issue TVDLs, and there are no additional fees other than the $30 application fee ($35 for motorcycles).
It is important to note that at the time of the application, SOS will check the identity and previous driving records of an applicant through facial recognition software. TVDL applicants must finish serving any suspensions for previous violations, including driving without a license or using false information on previous license applications.
Click here for quick guides to the TVDL in English, Spanish, Korean, Polish, and Chinese.
Contributed by Salma Waheedi, 2013 UAO Intern
The new healthcare law, called the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, may impact you and your family! Under this law, there will be a new way to buy health insurance, in the health insurance marketplace.
You can begin to apply to get health insurance on OCTOBER 1, 2013.
In the meantime, here are a few things you NEED to do:
There is good news for spouses and children (unmarried and under the age of 21) of lawful permanent residents, aka F2A category, this month! Starting August 1, 2013 through at least August 31, 2013, the F2A category has a current priority date for nationals all over the world.
This means that all foreign nationals who are the spouse or child (unmarried and under the age of 21) of a green card holder may apply for lawful permanent resident status immediately.
If the spouse or child of the permanent resident is currently in the U.S., the permanent resident should file the I-130 and I-485 as soon as possible. If the I-130 has already been submitted and is either pending or approved, the permanent resident should go ahead and file the I-485 during the month of August.
If the spouse or child of the permanent resident is outside of the U.S., the permanent resident should file the I-130 as soon as possible. If the I-130 has already been submitted and it is approved before or in August, the permanent resident should go ahead and initiate consular processing in their home country’s U.S. Consulate during the month of August.
Below is the chart for family-based immigrant visa numbers for August 2013
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So whether you already have a petition filed under the F2A category or whether you do not yet have a visa petition filed for you and are the spouse or child of a permanent resident, you should act as soon as possible to take advantage of the F2A category’s current priority date. We are not sure if the F2A category will remain current beyond the month of August, so do not miss this opportunity.
June 3rd marked the 125th anniversary of Martyrs Day in commemoration of the 22 Uganda Catholic Martyrs who were murdered in 1886. In Uganda, the day was a culmination of several days of trekking, sacrifice, prayer and meditation by pilgrims to the Catholic shrine that was built at the spot where St. Charles Kalooli Lwanga was burnt. In Chicago, the Ugandan community is marking this day with a special event on June 8th at St Hubert Catholic Church, 729 Grand Canyon Street, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169.
The Uganda Martyrs were Christian converts who were murdered for their faith in the historical kingdom of Buganda, now part of Uganda. The main reasons for their murder were refusal to offer sacrifices to the traditional gods and objection to and resistance to King Mwanga’s homosexual practices. Their killings seem to have been tied to specific resistance to Mwanga’s attempts to engage in homosexual practices with those killed immediately before the killings.
Saint Charles (Carl) Lwanga and his companions, Martyrs of Uganda, were a group of Christians (both Roman Catholics and Anglicans) who were murdered by Mwanga II, the Kabaka (King) of Buganda, between 1885 and 1887. These deaths were part of a three-way religious struggle for political control of the Buganda royal court. In 1877, the Church Missionary Society in London had sent Protestant missionaries to the court, followed two years later by the French Catholic White Fathers. These two competed with each other and the Zanzibar-based Muslim traders for converts and influence. By the mid-1880s, many members of the Buganda court had converted and become proxies for the religious and nationalist conflict being played out in the court. Kabaka Mwanga II, upon his ascent to the throne, attempted to destroy the foreign influences he felt threatened the Buganda state, but was instead deposed by armed converts in 1888.
Anglican James Hannington, the Protomartyr, had been dispatched to be the bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa, but he was executed with his companions before they could enter Buganda.
Twenty-two of the martyrs were Roman Catholics and were canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 18, 1964. Although the Anglicans were not canonized in the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope did mention them.Their feast day is June 3. They were:
- Achileo Kiwanuka
- Adolphus Ludigo-Mukasa
- Ambrosius Kibuuka
- Anatoli Kiriggwajjo
- Andrew Kaggwa
- Antanansio Bazzekuketta
- Bruno Sserunkuuma
- Charles Lwanga
- Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa
- Gonzaga Gonza
- Gyavira Musoke
- James Buuzaabalyaawo
- John Maria Muzeeyi
- Joseph Mukasa Balikuddembe
- Lukka Baanabakintu
- Matiya Mulumba
- Mbaga Tuzinde
- Mugagga Lubowa
- Mukasa Kiriwawanvu
- Nowa Mawaggali
- Ponsiano Ngondwe
The Ugandan Martyrs were featured in the film Millions. (www.wikipedia.org)
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