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Where to find budget-friendly services for immigrants

Q. Where can I go for help in applying for a new green card? I received my card on April 19, 1946. I immigrated to the United States after marrying a U.S. serviceman at the end of World War II. I’m in my 80s, and I could use some help.
– Hazel Lotz, Glendale
A. Despite some recent cutbacks in funding for immigrant service organizations, you should have no problem getting help applying for a new permanent resident card. New Yorkers are fortunate to have many free and low-cost immigration services available. Ask a service provider about applying for a filing fee waiver. You may qualify.
To find a free or low-cost immigration law service provider near you, call 3-1-1, the New York City information number. You also can check the list of free immigration law services funded by the City of New York’s Department of Youth and Community Development at https://www.nyc.gov/html/dycd. The City University of New York (CUNY) Citizenship and Immigration Project, which I direct, also provides free services. You can find an office near you at www.cuny.edu/citizenshipnow. Also, find immigration law service providers recognized by the government’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) at https://www.usdoj.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm. Finally, you can get a list of legal service providers helping low and moderate income individuals, at this Web site: https://www.lawhelp.org/NY/.
Readers who want to hire a lawyer to help them with an immigration application should try calling the Bar Association Legal Referral Service at 212-626-7373.
A matter of fathers
Q. My biological father petitioned for me, but now he refuses to sign an affidavit of support for me. My adopted father is willing to file an affidavit instead. Can I transfer my case to my adopted father?
– Nyanda Clark, Valley Stream
A. In family immigration cases, the petitioner must submit an affidavit of support for the immigrant visa applicant. The only exception is where the petitioner has died, or the applicant is self-petitioning as an abused spouse or child.
You may have another problem. Under U.S. immigration law, if you meet the definition of adopted child, your adoption ended your relationship with your biological father. The USCIS will recognize a relationship between an adopted child and biological father only if the adoption is legally terminated.
So who is your father under immigration law? If your adoption occurred before you turned 16 (18 if you are the sibling of an adopted child) and you spent two years in the legal and actual custody of your adopted father, then he is your father under immigration law. If you do not meet that definition of adopted child, then it is your biological father. Only your father under immigration law can petition for you, and must submit an affidavit.
Another Daddy dearest …
Q. My father won’t give me his citizenship certificate to help me prove I’m a U.S. citizen. What are my options? I have been a permanent resident since January 1998. I applied for naturalization in 2005, but the USCIS denied my application. The naturalization examiner said that I was already a U.S. citizen through the naturalization of my father when I was not yet 18. Then, I applied for a certificate of citizenship, but the USCIS denied that application as well because I didn’t submit my father’s citizenship certificate. My father refuses to help me. Does this mean that I will never get my U.S. citizenship?
– Priscilla Elson, the Bronx
A. You don’t need to get U.S. citizenship. From what you write, you ARE a U.S. citizen. What you need is proof. Try writing back to the USCIS asking the agency to reconsider the denial of your application for a citizenship certificate. You may want to get help from an immigration expert.
When a child gets citizenship derivatively through the naturalization of a parent, the child becomes a citizen through what lawyers say is “by operation of law.” That means it just happens – you need not take any action.
From what you write, you became a citizen when your father naturalized. If you submit required documents proving you are a citizen, including a birth certificate and, if relevant, your parent’s marriage certificate, the USCIS can find proof that your father naturalized and issue your citizenship certificate.
Allan Wernick is a lawyer and chair of the City University of New York Citizenship and Immigration Project. He is the author of “U.S. Immigration and Citizenship – Your Complete Guide, Revised 4th Edition.” Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, Daily News, 450 West 33rd Street, New York, N.Y. 10001. Professor Wernick’s web site is www.allanwernick.com.
Allan Wernick’s Immigration column is reprinted from the Thursday, July 17 editions of the New York Daily News.

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