UAO aims to serve as the African Community Resource Clearinghouse wherein constituents gather, access information, share experiences, exchange views, and coordinate organizational capacity development. UAO's hub of resources on this website is intended to assist community members in navigating services, programs and resources that are available to help them cope better in the United States.
Travelling abroad as an Asylee or Refugee?
Refugee Travel Documents for Asylum Applicants, Asylees and Lawful Permanent Residents who obtained their Status Based on Asylum
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document is used to apply for a Refugee Travel Document. But who needs a Refugee Travel Document?
An Asylum Applicant (an individual who has applied for asylum, but whose application is still pending) must first obtain advance parole before leaving the United States. If they leave the United States without first obtaining advance parole, they will be presumed to have abandoned their asylum application. The advance parole does not guarantee that the asylum applicant will be able to re-enter the United States; they will still have to be inspected by an immigration inspector at the border.
An Asylee (an individual who has been granted asylum) may not travel abroad without prior approval. This special authorization is given through a Refugee Travel Document which is issued to an asylee in order to re-enter to the United States. If you hold refugee or asylee status and are not a permanent resident yet, you must have a Refugee Travel Document in order to return to the United States. An asylee who does not obtain a Refugee Travel Document before leaving the country will be unable to re-enter to the United States and may be placed in removal proceedings. A Derivative Asylee (an individual who obtained status based on a family member having been granted asylum) should also obtain a Refugee Travel Document before traveling abroad. Like advance parole, the Refugee Travel Document does not guarantee re-entry into the United States; the asylee will still have to be inspected by an immigration inspector at the border.
A Lawful Permanent Resident (aka a green card holder) who obtained their status based on asylum may also travel abroad with a Refugee Travel Document. If they travel abroad without previously obtaining a Refugee Travel Document, they may also be unable re-enter the United States.
Traveling abroad for asylum applicants, asylees and even lawful permanent resident who obtained their status based on asylum is complex and can have serious consequences. If you have any questions regarding this matter or any other immigration related questions, please feel free to contact our staff attorney Sondra Furcajg at (312) 949-9980.
A good starting point for information on how to apply for asylum is at the USCIS website.
For more information on how to apply for asylum in the United States, or assistance with the application process, contact the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). Instructions of how to schedule an appointment at the Center are available in English, Spanish and French.
Petition for Relatives/ Family Members
Many people become lawful permanent residents through family members.
U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents have the right to help certain family members to become lawful permanent residents of the United States by obtaining what is usually referred to as “Green Card”. To do so you need to sponsor your relative and be able to prove that you have enough income or assets to support your relative(s) when they come to the U.S.
Filing the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative form is the first step in petitioning for your family member. This form is to to establish the relationship between you and the relative(s) who wish to immigrate to the United States.
U.S. citizens can petition for their:
- “Immediate Relative”: spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents.
- “Family preference category”: Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21, Married child(ren) of any age, Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)
- “Family member“: Spouses, and unmarried children
Special Categories of Family:
Individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames may be able to become permanent residents.
- Battered Spouse or Child (VAWA)
- K Nonimmigrant (includes fiancé(e))
- Person Born to a Foreign Diplomat in the United States
- V Nonimmigrant
- Widow(er) of a U.S. Citizen
Click on links provided for information on fiance(e) visas or prospective adopted children.
For the full list of forms or to find out which family members you can petition for, visit USCIS.gov, or click here.
Contact UAO if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-949-9980
Citizenship through Naturalization
Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national is granted U.S. citizenship after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Who qualifies for Naturalization?
- Legal Permanent Residents or Green card holders for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements. Find more information here.
- Legal Permanent Residents or Green card holders for at least 3 years, married to a U.S. Citizen and meet all eligibility requirements. Find out more about Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens.
- Military Personnel with qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements.
- Child of a U.S. citizen who was born outside the U.S., is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met. Read more about Citizenship Through Parents.
Other paths to naturalization can be found at USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance and A Guide to Naturalization.
NB: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18.
Applying for Naturalization
To apply for naturalization, file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Consult with an immigration attorney before applying for naturalization. Citizenship workshops provide opportunities for you to have a free one-on-one consultation with an immigration attorney. Call UAO at 312-949-9980 to find a workshop near you.
Applicants for naturalization must also pass the English, U.S. history and civics test at the Naturalization interview.
Naturalization fee waiver:
- You or your family receives public benefits (Link, Medicaid, SSI, TANF)
- Your household income is equal to or less than that listed in the table.
- $ 16,755
- $ 22,695
- $ 28,635
- $ 34,575
- $ 40,515
- $ 46,455
- $ 52,395
- $ 58,335
South African Consulate General
The South African Consulate General in Chicago represents the Government of the Republic of South Africa in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America.
Protection for Undocumented Youth, Obama’s new policy
On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced that it would offer many DREAM Act-eligible youths protection from deportation. These youths, whether or not they are currently in deportation proceedings, will be able to apply for “deferred action,” which would temporarily shield them from deportation and enable to live and work legally in the US.
Five criteria to be met
- They must have come to the US before they turned 16;
- They must have not yet turned 30 when they apply;
- They must have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, and must have been present in the US on June 15, 2012;
- They must currently be in school, have received a high school diploma or GED, or been honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces or the Coast Guard;
- They must not have been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,” multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. Anyone applying for deferred action would need to go through a criminal background check.
Anyone who wants to apply should seek help only from immigration attorneys or non-profit organizations that work on immigration matters.
Find a free legal clinic in Chicago where you can get help filing your application.
Scholarship for DREAMers
Read more →
African Diplomatic Contacts
African Diplomatic Contacts.
Legal Resources and Referrals
|NAME||CONTACT INFORMATION||SERVICE AREAS|
|National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC)||
208 S. LaSalle St.,Suite 2000
|Low-to-moderate income immigrants; immigration matters such as Visa processing, naturalization, deportation defense, asylum; intake by appointment only, Mondays, Wednesdays, and first Saturday of the month|
|Centro Romero||6216 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60660
|Immigration assistance to Latino immigrants; walk-ins accepted|
|Chicago Legal Clinic||2938 E. 91st St.
Chicago, IL 60617
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Web Address: www.clclaw.org
|Bankruptcy, guardianship, adoption, domestic violence, landlord/tenant matters, tort defense, contract law, wills, immigration|
|Chicago Volunteer Legal Services||100 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60602
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Address: www.cvls.org
|Civil cases, general practice (low income), bankruptcies, divorce, guardianship, adoption, tort defense, collection defense, landlord/tenant|
|Community Economic Development Law Project||188 W. Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Web Address: www.cedlp.org
|Non-profit community-based organizations focused on housing and economic development, and individuals pursuing small business development with the goal of economic self-sufficiency|
|Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS)||910 W. Van Buren
Chicago, IL 60607
Hotline: 312-738-9200 (English); 312-421-4478 (Español)
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Address: www.carpls.org
|Family law, consumer fraud, landlord/tenant matters, bankruptcy, debt collection cases, garnishments, contract law, housing discrimination, disability law, Medicare/Medicaid cases, elder law, veterans’ matters; intake via hotline 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday with hours extended on Wednesday until 7:30 p.m.|
|DuPage Bar Legal Aid Service||126 S. County Farm Rd.
Wheaton, IL 60187
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Web Address: users.anet.com
|Family law, appellate advocacy, bankruptcy, guardianship, adoption, wills, not-for-profit corporate advice for charities serving low-income persons, tort defense, collection defense, criminal misdemeanor, Social Security cases; 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday|
|Lawyers Committee for Better Housing, Inc.||220 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60604
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Address: www.lcbh.org
|Landlord/tenant matters, unsafe housing, evictions, lockouts, utility shutoffs; potential cases reviewed twice weekly|
|Legal Aid Bureau of Metropolitan Family Services||14 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Web Address: www.metrofamily.org
|Family law services ranging from advice to full litigation; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday|
|Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago||111 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Address: www.lafchicago.org
|Family law, public aid matters, Social Security, migrant issues, domestic violence|
|Life Span Center for Legal Services and Advocacy||20 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 Phone: 312-408-1210
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Web Address: www.life-span.org
|Domestic violence cases (Cook County), divorce, orders of protection, custody cases; intake by phone 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; no walk-ins accepted|
|Pro Bono Advocates||28 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60602
E-mail Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Address: www.probonoadvocates.org
|Domestic violence cases/civil orders of protection for low-income residents of Cook County; walk-ins accepted from 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday|
|Uptown Peoples Law Center||4404 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
|Public aid, disability law, evictions|
|Will County Legal Assistance Program||5 E. Van Buren St.
Joliet, IL 60432
|Civil legal services to low-income and indigent residents of Will County; intake via telephone|