What You Need to Know About the U.S. Citizenship Test

Back in 2015, Actress Emily Blunt appeared on The Jimmy Kimmel Show and cited the trouble she had taking the U.S. Citizenship Test. (Blunt – who is married to American actor John Krazinski – was born in Roehampton, England.) She described the test as being, “…the hardest test I ever had to take.” Ms. Blunt was referring to the second part of this test which quizzes each applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government. The first part of the test assesses and applicant’s ability to read, write and speak in the language. (Presumably, Ms. Blunt had no difficulty there.) Here is some information about the test that will hopefully prepare you.

The English Component

This first component of the exam consists of a speaking part, a reading part and writing part. It is not necessary to have a perfect command of the English language but it does require that you demonstrate a mastery of basic grammar and vocabulary. Immigration officers administer this test and it is essential that you ask for clarification when you do not understand something. For the reading portion of the exam you must read one sentence out of three in a manner that suggest to the USCIS administrator that you understand it. For the writing portion of the exam you must write one sentence, out of three sentences. This sentence must be understandable to the USCIS administrator. Finally, the USCIS administrator will ask you questions in English to determine if you understand him/her.

The Civics Component

The civics portion of the Citizenship Exam assesses your knowledge of American government and history. It consists of a list of 100 questions from which a USCIS officer will draw 10 questions. You must answer 6 correctly out of the 10 questions he/she will ask. This portion of the US Citizenship Exam is the part some immigrants have trouble with and the part that Ms. Blunt complains was difficult. However, there are many sites online that provide flash cards that you can study prior to taking the exam. Finally, if you do not pass at first, you will be allowed to retake the test. (You will be asked different questions.) You will be able to take the test about 60 to 90 days (two to three months) from the date of your first exam appointmentunited states

If you are scheduled to take the Citizenship Test you should engage the help of an immigration attorney in Ventura County who will review all of your application materials and answer any questions you have. My office handles immigration rights in Los Angeles and has experience helping those who are seeking to become citizens of the United States.


R-1 Visa, Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

R visas are a kind of non immigrant, temporary work visa whereby people who have been offered jobs as religious workers are allowed to remain in the United States. Ministers, monks, priests, rabbis and imams are just a few of the kinds of religious workers who may qualify under this kind of non-immigrant, short-term visa. Of course, if you feel that you may qualify for this special visa, you should consult with an attorney as you should in all matters related to immigration. There are special procedures that you must follow and deadlines that must be met. Here are few details about this program, how to qualify and the documents you may need.

What are the Requirements for an R-1 Visa?

The requirements for an R-1 visa are very specific. In order to qualify you must:

  • Be employed at least 20 hours per week
  • Be a member of a religious denomination and belong to a non-profit, tax exempt origination within the United States for at least 2 years.
  • Be coming to the U.S. expressly to begin a religious occupation.
  • Have been a member of a religious denomination for at least 2 years before applying for an R-1 visa.
  • Your job duties must pertain to carrying out the religious organization’s creed.

How to Apply

As we said, there are many complicated steps involved in applying for this special visa. Just one mistake from your employer – he or she must apply for this document – and your application can end up being rejected. However, these are the general steps for applying for the R-1 Visa:

  • Complete the Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker:
  • Submit the Filing Fee(s):
  • Submit supporting documents:
  • Submit duplicate copies of the Form I-129:visa
  • Sign and File the Form I-129:

What Type of Documentation Will You Need to Provide?

The evidence that should be included with your R-1 Visa is as follows:


  • A letter from the IRS showing that the organization is a tax exempt religious body
  • Documentation establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization
  • A religious denomination certification stating that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination

You should consult with an immigration lawyer in Van Nuys to see what other documents you may need to help the USCIS make a determination. An immigration attorney in Ventura County will be able to make a personal analysis of your eligibility.


Suing USCIS over Delayed or Denied Immigration Cases

When it comes to issues involving immigration, delays and denials from USCIS can be inconvenient to say the least. Sometimes such delays and denials can even lead to tragic results depending on the particular case. Moreover, these kinds of negative outcomes can make applicants doubt the fairness of the U.S. justice system. Thankfully, there are various resources that are set in place by law that applicants whose cases have been delayed or rejected can use. One such course of action applicants can use – as odd as it may sound – is to file a lawsuit against USCIS. Yes, you heard right. Some people have taken action against USCIS by suing the agency. So, is this a good idea? Let’s look at why you may wish to file a lawsuit against USCIS and what happens after you file a lawsuit against the Immigration Service for delaying or denying your case.

Reasons you may wish consider Suing USCIS

Suing USCIS is not as outlandish as it seems and it will not necessarily have a negative impact on your case. Many attorneys have sued USICS and some have successfully had their cases expedited as a result of their legal action. Still, there is no guarantee that suing USCIS will result in success but it is a course you should consider when all other legal avenues have been exhausted. Here are some reasons why you may wish to consider suing USCIS.

  1. The court will take another look at the initial filing you made and ask for the evidence that you submitted to USCIS.
  2. A lawsuit may be effective in getting movement on your case if it has been delayed for an unreasonable period of time.
  3. Your case gets more scrutiny and is taken more seriously by USCIS when they determine that you are willing to fight in open court.

What Happens after you File a Lawsuit against the Immigration Service?uscis

First, an attorney will draft your complaint and you would pay a filing fee. Currently, it is $400 for federal court. Afterwards, the court would issue a summons to the relevant agencies. Next, the defendants – in this case the government – will have 60 days to file their response to the complaint. Then, an Assistant US Attorney or Department of Justice attorney is chosen to defend the lawsuit. This attorney would then contact the agency to learn the specifics of the case and determine if they wish to proceed.

We can make an assessment of your case during your free consultation with our attorneys. We handle immigration rights in Los Angeles and can tell you what the best course of action is for your case. As an immigration attorney in Van Nuys, we can guarantee that we will find the best solution for your particular set of circumstances.


All About the Conrad J-1 Visa Waiver Program

In 1994, Senator Kent Conrad wanted to address the problem that many areas of the country have in trying to gain access to qualified health care professionals to serve the public. Thus, he created the Conrad J1 visa waiver program to do just that. And although the details of this annual program differ by state, the J-1 Visa Waiver Program is still an excellent way for healthcare facilities throughout the country to recruit and retain highly-qualified foreign physicians in certain disadvantaged areas. Here is more information about the program.


All 50 states offer the Conrad 30 program as a way to serve areas of the country that have a problem recruiting healthcare professionals to serve the public. These areas are often rural and the populations close to or at the poverty line. Specifically, the program seeks to allow doctors who have had residency training in family medicine, general obstetrics, general pediatrics, general internal medicine, and general psychiatry serve the public. Moreover, each state’s Department of Health can sponsor up to 30 international medical graduates (IMGs) a year.

J1 Visa Application Process

There are several steps that must be followed in order to obtain J1 Visa Waiver application status. These steps are as follows:

  • Choose an Exchange Visitor Program –There are several kinds of exchange programs including camp counselor, intern, physician, specialist, teacher, professor and research scholar and many others.
  • Determine Eligibility – Anyone applying for the J1 Visa Waiver program must be proficient in English and purchase J1 insurance. Applicants must also undergo an interview.
  • Find a Sponsor- Once the above steps are completed, applicants must find a state department approved sponsor who is authorized to supervise the application process
  • Complete Form DS-2019 – After receiving and application from a program sponsor, the applicant is provided with a DS-2019 form. This form contains information such as sponsor identification, category of exchange, duration of stay including the start and end dates of program, etc.
  • Pay Application Fees – A J1 applicant must pay several fees associated with the process including a program fee, a SEVIS fee and a visa fee.

Required Documentsamerica

An applicant for the J1 Visa Waiver must also submit the following documents as part of the application progress:

  • DS-2019 Form, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor (J-1) Status.
  • Form DS-7002
  • Form DS-160
  • Passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end date of the applicant’s intended stay in the US.
  • A current photograph

Finally, if you have any questions about the J1 Visa Waiver program contact me, attorney Erika Roman. The office of Erika Roman immigration lawyer handles all related issues and offers a free consultation to all who believe they may need my services.


Six Most Immigration Friendly Countries

Ever since President Trump has called for a shift from what currently makes the American immigration system distinct from that of other countries in the world – namely its inclusiveness – people have wondered if America is still the shining beacon of freedom that it was once reputed to be. Sure, every sovereign nation must exert some controls over who enters and leaves its borders, but it should do so in a humane and fair way that preserves human dignity and protects human life. To that end, it’s interesting to look at how some countries’ immigration policies may be even more enlightened when compared to the melting pot.

  • Canada: Canada has long been known as one of the most immigrant friendly countries in the world. Additionally, this northern neighbor has a healthcare system that serves its citizens much better than our does.
  • Australia: This country has a high standard of education and a very relaxed immigration policy. And although the standard of living there is relatively high, it has a high ex-pat community who are more than willing to pay that extra price for living with easy access to healthcare, beautiful scenery and great weather.
  • India: The standard of living may be relatively low, but India ranks rather highly when it comes to immigrant friendly nations. Many people who immigrate there are people who are fleeing from other, less enlightened countries in the region.
  • France: France currently has a population of 64,768,389, 6,684,842 of those peoples are immigrants from other nations. Many of these immigrants come from the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, etc. Moreover, many people immigrate to France from several African nations. Lately, there have been some anti-immigrant sentiments expressed by right-wing factions there but these have eased up in recent months.mexico
  • Mexico: Ironically as immigration policies are getting more severe north of the border it is relatively easy to migrate in the other direction to Mexico. All you need is an FMM Visa – which lasts up to 6 months – and some living expenses. (By the way, the FMM Visa aka tourist visa, can be renewed multiple times.) You can apply for permanent residency via a Mexican Consulate abroad.
  • Panama: Immigration to Panama is relatively easy as long as you are emigrating from a “friendly nation.” Citizens from 50 countries qualify for Panama’s “Friendly Nations Program.”

As an immigration attorney in Oxnard, I am proud to offer my services to those who may feel that their legal situation is otherwise hopeless. An immigration lawyer in Van Nuys is a guide you will need to navigate our complex immigration system especially as it promises to change once again in drastic ways. I will never stop fighting to ensure that our country remains an attainable goal for those who wish to cross our shores in search of shelter.


5 Consequences of Closing of the US/Mexico Border

For more than two years, President Donald Trump has demonstrated a knack for suggesting simple – and some even say dangerous – solutions to extremely complex issues. His latest threat is that he will close the border between the US and Mexico in order to stem the tide of immigration from Mexico and Central American. This latest proposal has drawn fire from experts and interest groups who are weighing in on how this act could be disastrous for people on both sides of the border. Here’s what they say would happen if the border was closed.

  • It would increase illegal border crossings: Closing the US would increase unemployment levels in Mexico. As most people know, economic hardship is one of the primary motivations for immigration.
  • Price surges in the US: Trump’s own Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, has said that such a move could actually cause price hikes in the US since Mexico is a large exporter of corn, pork and dairy products. Many experts also believe that closing the border would cause other crops to skyrocket in price including tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, eggplant, green beans, mangoes, melons, berries and chili peppers.
  • Border communities and Texans would take an economic hit: According the Texas Association of Business, 1 in 5 jobs are dependent on trade with Mexico. They go on to say that a shutdown would cause nothing short of a crisis for people in that state as well as people in border communities who rely on commerce between the two countries. This pinch would not just be felt among consumers it would also impact truckers and rail cars operator who transport those goods.border
  • It would impinge upon Americans’ right to move about freely: One of the greatest liberties that Americans have is the ability to move about freely throughout this country and to other parts of the world. A border closing would curtail that freedom. Moreover, some US citizens who are now in Mexico would be stuck there. For example, students in border schools and universities wouldn’t be able to get to class — or home.
  • Supply chains would be disrupted: The auto and farming industries would feel the impact of such a closing as their industries closely rely on travel between the two countries. For example, Mexico is the largest source of foreign components for U.S. manufacturers. A disruption of this sort would have long reaching effects for industries already affected by the tariffs against China the administration has already imposed.

It may be impossible to prepare for something as catastrophic as a complete border shutdown would be. Regardless of whether or not the border is closed, immigration rights in Los Angeles and throughout the country will be protected by attorneys like me. I am an immigration attorney in Ventura County who knowledge in all areas of immigration law.


How to Protect Yourself During an Immigration Raid

Immigration raids continue to be a hot button issue in this country as President Donald Trump strives to fulfill his campaign promise of deporting record numbers of immigrants from the United States. However, my office is dedicated to protecting and defending the constitutional and human rights of all persons in the US regardless of their immigration or refugee status. For this reason, we would like to provide with these general tips for protecting yourself during these raids. Keep in mind that the information contained here is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you need more information about this topic or have been the subject of a raid then contact me, Erika Roman, immigration lawyer in Los Angeles.

  • Stay calm: We realize that an unexpected raid by ICE is a very stressful event. However, for your own safety and the safety of all around you should try to remain composed. Do not make sudden movements or attempt to physically resist law enforcement officers as such actions could quickly escalate.
  • Do not open doors: If ICE comes for you at your home remember that you have rights. They cannot enter your premises without a warrant. Ask that they pass the warrant under the door before you letting them in. If they force themselves in then follow the above tip.
  • Look at the warrant’s top signature line: Determine if the warrant was issued by a court and signed by a judge. If it was issued by DHS or ICE or signed by DHS or ICE employees only then they are not allowed to enter your premises.
  • Do not sign anything: Always seek the advice of an attorney before signing anything.immigration arrest
  • Report the raid: Take pictures, videos and make notes when the raid occurs. Also be sure to get names, badge numbers and other details that may come in handy later.
  • Do not lie or show false documents: These actions could come back to harm you if you are taken into custody.
  • Refuse searches: If ICE forcefully enters your home without a warrant calmly assert your right to refuse searches. Say to them, “I do not consent to your entry or to your search of these premises. I am exercising my right to remain silent.” You are also entitled under the Constitution to request a lawyer be present during any and all questioning.
  • Assert your rights if you are detained: Even if you have been detained as a result of a raid you still have rights and should know and assert them. You have the right to contact an attorney. (Neither ICE nor the government are obligated to provide you with one.) You have a right to communicate with your consulate. You have a right to and should remain silent.

All our cases are handled by competent and experienced immigration professionals who know immigration rights in Los Angeles. We know that an ICE raid is scary but it does not mean necessarily mean that your life here has ended and it certainly does not mean that you have somehow lost your basic right as a human being.


Motion to Reopen: An Overview

An order of removal or deportation has a ring of finality to it. And often it does mean that the life one hoped to establish in this country has come to an end. However, if you have been received an order of removal or deportation all may not be lost. The solution to your immigration problem may be to file a motion to reopen the removal proceedings so you can get another day in court and one more chance to start a life in this country. Here is a brief overview of this request which is made to an immigration judge or the board of immigration appeals.

What is a Motion to Reopen?

As the name implies, a motion to reopen is an important statutory mechanism which asks that a judge or legal body consider material and previously unavailable evidence and to vacate an existing removal or deportation order. The Supreme Court has time and time again recognized this important safeguard to civil liberties in the following cases Kucana v. Holder, 558 U.S. 233, 242 (2010); Dada v. Mukasey, 554 U.S. 1, 18 (2008)). Also, See Reyes Mata v. Lynch, 135 S. Ct. 2150, 2153 (2015); regarding this right for non-citizens. An immigration attorney in Oxnard can file this very important document for you.

What are some Grounds for Filing a Motion to Reopen?

A motion to reopen must establish that there are new facts in the case in question and that the “evidence sought to be offered is material and was not available and could not have been discovered or presented at the former hearing.” 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.2(c); 1003.23(b)(3). Common grounds for reopening include:

  • Ineffective assistance of prior counsel which prejudiced the case.
  • Changed conditions in the noncitizen’s home country that leads him or her to fear persecution there.immigration
  • Exceptional circumstances that caused the noncitizen not to appear for an immigration court hearing, etc.

How our immigration lawyers can help

Because a motion to reopen is such an intricate legal proceedings that carries with it grave consequences, we would not advise you to attempt to file one without the assistance of a qualified legal counsel. I am attorney Erika Roman and I can provide you with such counsel after speaking with you – for free – about your case. If you receive a notice of removal or deportation, we will help you determine whether a motion to reopen is your best option (there are others).


All About Dual Citizenship

One of the more fascinating aspects of immigration law is ‘dual nationality’ or citizenship. Dual citizenship means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Why would someone want to claim citizenship in two countries? For one thing, people who have this status enjoy being able to travel back and forth freely between the two countries, vote and otherwise take advantage of the rights of citizens in both countries. For another, they may simple not wish to sever all ties to the country of their birth. Whatever the reason may be, some people choose to seek this status. Let’s look at the process of applying for dual citizenship and use three countries – Canada, Mexico and the Philippines – as examples.


You would think that because Canada and the United States share a common border and have been allies and trading partner for so long that each country grants special immigration rights to its citizenship regarding the other country. This is not so. Before applying for dual citizenship, Canadians must spend years here as a legal resident before they can apply for citizenship here as well. (You must also have demonstrated good moral character and not run afoul of the law.) However, if one of your parents was born here and the other in Canada, you may automatically qualify for dual citizenship. Check with an attorney if you are unsure.


The process of naturalization in Mexico is managed by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE). Obtaining dual Mexican citizenship is a complicated process. You must first check to see if you are from a country that even allows dual citizenship. Next, you must have permanent resident status in Mexico. Then, you must present your birth certificate and the birth certificate of your Mexican parents to the proper officials. (Yours should be translated and apostilled.) Again, it is very important to consult with an attorney first. If you are local resident you should could with an immigration lawyer in Van Nuys.dual

The Philippines

Just as is the case with Canada, one can be a dual citizen at birth if one parent was born in the United States and the other was born in the Philippines. If you seeking more information on whether a child qualifies in this way it is a good idea to check with an attorney and with the Philippine Embassy or Consulate. Otherwise you must first be a permanent resident of the Philippines and be able to prove this with the proper documentation before applying for dual citizenship.

In short, applying for dual citizenship can be rather complicated such is the case with much of immigration law. That is why you should never assume anything. If you are asking yourself where there is an immigration lawyer near me, then I can help you. I am Erika Roman.


Immigration and Adoption

The many processes by which parents can adopt a child, and the laws that govern those processes, is complicated under ordinary circumstances. Usually, one must wait for an indefinite period of time, sign many forms and be vetted by the state and other parties before the adoption can be complete. These complicated procedures become even more involved when a native born American wishes to adopt a child from another country and bring him/her to the US. Here is some information for those who seek to adopt a child from another country.

The Processes

United States immigration law provides two different processes through which someone may immigrate on the basis of an intercountry adoption by a US citizen.

  • Hague Process: This applies to children who reside in a country that is a party to The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. This conference was held in 1993. Its objectives were to govern international adoption and to help prevent child laundering, and child trafficking, etc. The steps that are required in order to adopt a child under this process are that you must (a) choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider, (b) apply to be eligible to apply to adopt, (c) be referred to a child by USCIS, (d) apply for the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States, (e) adopt the child in order to gain legal custody, (f) obtain a visa for the child to enter the United States. At all steps during this process USCIS is deeply involved.children
  • The Orphan Process: The second way an adult may adopt a child and bring him/her to the United is via the “orphan process” which is a non-Hague way to adopt. Under this process, the child must be an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law. U.S. immigration law defines an orphan as foreign-born child who was made an orphan death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents. You must then choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider. After it has been confirmed that the child is an orphan by U.S. immigration law, parents must verify that they have obtained a valid adoption or grant of custody. Parents must also address whether the child has any illnesses or disabilities that are not described in the petition for adoption. Again, USCIS is involved in this process as well. With both processes care must be taken every step of the way and one should use an attorney who is familiar with the laws governing the adoption of a foreign born child.

If you have questions about adopting a foreign born child or about any other subject related to immigration rights in Los Angeles you can consult with my office for free. I am an immigration attorney in Ventura County who will fight to protect your rights under the constitution and who will make sure that you do not face the immigration system alone.