applications for immigration benefits
USCIS official website in English, en español
Check your case status after your application is filed (en español)
Check case processing times by case type and service center (en español)
Citizenship Resource Center to study and find resources on the naturalization test (en español)
Change your address online (en español) – Note that documented immigrants must change their address within 10 days of moving. Here is why it is so important to do so.
for those in removal (deportation) proceedings
Executive Office for Immigration Review: part of the U.S. Department of Justice
Check case status online or by calling 1-800-898-7180 (TDD: 800-828-1120): Note that “no results found” does not necessarily mean that there is no case; it may mean that the case has not yet been filed with the Court.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University maintains data related to immigration courts, case backlogs, case dispositions, etc:
The current immigration court system backlog
Data on new deportation proceedings filed with the immigration courts
Outcomes of deportation proceedings in immigration court
Data on asylum decisions by court, detention status, legal representation, date, and outcome
Data on immigration court bond hearings
Geographic Disparities: Ten-Fold Difference in Odds of ICE Enforcement Depending on Where One Lives
Department of State
Immigrating from Abroad
Information on applying for visas from abroad outside of the U.S.
Information for travelers
Avoid fraud in consular processing
About Visas – The Basics
“Straight Facts on U.S. Visas” by country
DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application FAQ’s
DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa Application FAQ’s
Find an Attorney
a qualified, experienced immigration attorney
Find a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in your area here.
Find a nonprofit, low bono, or pro bono attorney through the Immigration Advocates Network or InmigranteInformado.com en español.
United We Dream’s 9 Tips on Finding Good Legal Advice & Financial Assistance pages
See “For Disciples Immigrants” page for further information
Avoid Scams & Fraud!
especially notario fraud
The wrong help – even if well intentioned – can hurt, if not devastate, immigrants and their families! Please do not advise an immigrant if you are not a licensed attorney or accredited Department of Justice representative. Contact us instead.
What is Notario Fraud? See Unidos US for information in English and en español.
StopNotarioFraud.org was created by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Bar Association. It offers information in 6 languages.
Consumer Protection information from AILA
State by State Information on the Unauthorized Practice of Law from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)
Organizations to follow
for news, testimonials, & community
CLINIC (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.)
UNIDOS US – serving the Hispanic community
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
African Law Center – serving clients throughout 50 states by appointment only
Sponsor an Immigrant Pastor
As a congregation, you have decided that you wish to sponsor an immigrant pastor – fantastic! Before creating or signing any documents, contracts, checks, etc, you should contact Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel. Immigration status is complicated and confusing, so it is easy to make a simple misstep that could have disastrous consequences.
As a minister, you are considering launching a New Church. If you have not spoken with our friends at New Church Ministry, please do so as soon as possible. However, know that there are additional steps and complications to starting a new church as an immigrant, so please contact us soon.
Please contact me as early as possible when beginning the discernment process so that we may schedule a consultation – typically between a regional minister, church board representative, and/or the prospective immigrant employee. It is helpful to have some ideas of what the new role will entail in terms of job responsibilities as well as the allocated budget available (as there are financial requirements imposed by the application process). Know that the employment-based immigration system moves at a seemingly glacial pace, so it is critical that we begin as soon as possible so that you all may launch your ministry as soon as possible!
Finally, you may find the Disciples Pastors page helpful in providing an overview of the R-1 nonimmigrant visa and I-360 Special Immigrant Religious Worker immigrant visa. You will find links to the USCIS website there as well.
Within CC(DOC), both Global Ministries and Week of Compassion provide wide and deep support for refugees around the world. Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries equips Disciples to respond to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger through refugee resettlement, ministering with immigrants, and advocacy. However, here are some resources on how to assist refugees in your local community and abroad.
Did you know that it takes years, and sometimes decades, for a refugee to reach the U.S.? Here is an overview of what that process looks like as well as a history of refugees in the U.S. Once here, a refugee generally can apply for permanent residence (i.e. green card) within one year and then citizenship after five years as a resident. It takes years of living in limbo and uncertainty; having community support can make all the difference.
Support Asylum Seekers
Asylum seekers are refugees. The difference is simply geography: they have been able to physically arrive in the United States before requesting legal relief. They must meet the international law definition of a “refugee.” They may apply for asylum affirmatively or defensively. Those arriving at the Southern Border will most often seek to encounter the Border Patrol to express fear of persecution in their home country. Most are detained until released on bond or parole (if an adult) or to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, who locates and vets a sponsor (if an unaccompanied child).
At the moment, the greatest needs are 1) to assist and support efforts and organizations on the border who handle these detention matters, and 2) to provide long term support for legal services so that one may see their legal case to its final conclusion (which currently takes years).
While some may find this area controversial, here are some thoughts to consider:
Did you know that there is no right to legal counsel for asylum seekers? In a 2016 study by the American Immigration Council, data revealed that only 37% of all immigrants and 14% of detained immigrants “go to court with lawyers on their side.” Detained immigrants are twice as likely to succeed with an attorney as those without one.
Did you know that unaccompanied children also do not have a right to legal counsel either? Can you imagine your child appearing in court without an attorney, much less an adult, by their side for anything? (There has been litigation on this issue, and the government has repeatedly argued that unaccompanied children do not need attorneys.) Syracuse University data found that 73% of these children were allowed to stay in the U.S. when they had an attorney (only 15% stayed when they did not have an attorney).
Did you know that 83% of asylees show up for and follow through with their immigration court hearings? Contrary to news outlet claims, data supports that asylum seekers will show up when released from detention.
This article and another here contain a list of organizations along the border and elsewhere to support and with which to volunteer (still valid though dated). If you are an attorney, mental healthcare provider, interpreter or translator, or have lots of patience and time with which to make phone calls, please consider these opportunities with the Immigrant Justice Campaign.
Assist those in Detention
There are multiple government agencies that detain immigrants in the U.S. at enormous expense. For years, the U.S. immigration system had a mandatory “quota” for the number of detainees on a given day. Despite the Covid-19 global pandemic, immigration detention continues.
When an immigrant is taken into detention, it may take days for them to be located. The government typically moves immigrants quickly and without warning throughout federal and immigration detention facilities. One may search the ICE Locator online, but imagine what you would do and feel if your parent, child, friend, or employee “disappeared,” you could not call or text them, and you had no idea where they were. Meanwhile, this report discusses how immigrants are statistically less likely to commit crimes than the native-born while there has been a trend towards the criminalization of the immigration system over the past 25 years.
Once in detention, the most important step is to find an attorney with experience in immigration detention, bond, and court cases. However, this is easier said than done because there is no right to counsel in immigration cases (despite detention in incarceration-like facilities), which means that detainees and their families usually must retain private counsel. Often, local counsel is best because they know their particular system and its intricacies. However, note that most immigration detainees are held (ironically?) in remote, sparsely populated areas, which require attorneys and families to drive hours just for one short visit.
Finally, if and when one obtains a bond – if even eligible to be released from immigration custody, that amount may be very high – as much as $5,000-$25,000 – and differ based on geography. Immigration bonds are often set at amounts that exceed ability to pay. There are organizations that serve as bond fund “pools” to assist including Freedom For Immigrants, the Immigrant Bail Fund, the Fair Fight Bond Fund, and the Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund.
Advocate for Immigrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers
Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries equips Disciples to respond to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger through refugee resettlement, ministering with immigrants, and advocacy. Please subscribe to “RIM WRAP” for frequent email newsletters on action alerts and opportunities to stand up for immigrants, refugees, and asylees.
Additionally, the U.S. immigration system is badly broken, so there are ample opportunities for advocacy. Remember that immigrants are unable to vote until they become citizens, so they are unable to determine the political leaders who may completely define the arc of how and when they can live with their family, work, return home, or simply live free. There are always opportunities to speak up and out at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)’s Advocacy and Media Center.
You might also consider joining the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for a strong and vibrant faith-based community that is standing up and speaking out for immigrants, refugees, and asylees every day.
Finally, never stop learning! Here are some suggestions:
Film Lists from Re-Imagining Migration and Immigration in the Movies
More to come…