Immigration

Learn more about your rights and the process of attaining citizenship and naturalization.


What Are My Rights?

Every person in the United States has rights. If you are a citizen or an immigrant, or if you are undocumentedyou have rights. The constitution protects everyone. Some of your most important rights are the ones you have when you talk to anyone from law enforcement, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). 

  • You do not have to talk to an immigration officer (ICE) or answer their questions – you can tell them that you want to stay silent. 
  • You can ask to talk to a lawyer. 
  • You can ask if you are free to leave – if the officer says yes, calmly and slowly leave. 
  • You can refuse to sign anything before talking to a lawyer. 
  • If you are arrested you have the right to call your family, a lawyer, and your consulate.

Red Cards

Red cards can help you tell an immigration officer that you are using your rights. Show the card to the officer or slide it under the door. 

 

Usted Tiene Derechos Constitucionales. 

  • NO ABRA LA PUERTA SI UN AGENTE DE SERVICIO DE INMIGRACION ESTA TOCANDO A LA PUERTA 
  • NO CONTESTE NINGUNA PREGUNTA DEL AGENTE DEL SERVICIO DE INMIGRACION SI 

EL TRATA DE HABLAR CON USTED. Usted tiene derecho a mantenerse callado. No tiene que dar su 

nombre al agente. Si está en el trabajo, pregunte al agente si está libre para salir y si el agente dice que sí, váyase. 

Usted tiene derecho de hablar con un abogado. 

  • Entregue esta tarjeta al agente. No abra la puerta! 

 

 

I do not wish to speak with you, answer your questions, or sign or hand you any documents based on my 5th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. 

I do not give you permission to enter my home based on my 4th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution unless you have a warrant, signed by a judge or magistrate with my name on it that you slide under the door. I do not give you permission to search any of my belongings based on my 4th Amendment rights. I choose to exercise my constitutional rights. 

These cards are available to citizens and noncitizens alike. 

 

 

(Content adapted from Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/immigration)


Citizenship And Naturalization

You can become a United States citizen if you were born in the United States, if your parents are U.S. citizens, or if you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and apply for citizenship. Be aware that even if you qualify to apply for citizenship, there can be risks. 

 

HOW DO I BECOME A U.S. CITIZEN? 

  • You must be a current lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to apply to be a U.S. citizen, through a process called naturalization.  
  • Always address the judge as “Your Honor.”

 

HOW DO I QUALIFY? 

  • Be at least 18 years old. 
  • Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for 5 years or 3 years if you received your green card through marriage. 
  • Be physically present in the U.S. for at least 2.5 years of the past 5 years or 1.5 years of the past 3 years if you received your green card through marriage. 
  • Be a person of good moral character. 
  • Be able to pass an English and civics test. o You do not have to take the English test if you are at least 50 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years or more, or you are at least 55 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for 15 years or more – you will still have to take the civics exam but in your native language. 
    • You do not have to take the English test if you are at least 65 years old and have been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years or more, and you can take a simplified civics exam in your native language. 
    • You may not have to take the English exams if you qualify for a disability waiver. You will need a doctor to complete another form (N-648) in order to qualify. 

CITIZENSHIP PROCESS OVERVIEW  

  1. Send an Application for Naturalization (N-400) to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 
  2. Receive notification that your application has been received by USCIS. 
  3. Go to your appointment at a local office where they will take your fingerprints to complete a background check. 
  4. Receive notification for an interview at your local USCIS office. 
  5. Go to your interview where you will take the English and civics exams. 
  6. Get notice that tells you if your application was approved. 
  7. Attend the Oath Ceremony. 

(Content adapted from Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/immigration)


Do I Run Any Risks If I Apply?

Be aware of the risks. 

To apply for citizenship, you must show that you are a person of “good moral character” for 5 years prior to applying for citizenship (3 years if you received your green card through marriage) through the time of your interview. 

    • Here are some examples of issues that may cause the government to determine that you DO NOT have good moral character. This is not a complete list and you should consult an immigration lawyer if you have any doubts. 
      • Criminal convictions, 
      • Smuggling, 
      • Alcoholism, 
      • Participation in illegal gambling or prostitution, 
      • Committing fraud to get a visa or green card,  
      • Practicing polygamy (being married to more than one person at the same time), 
      • Failure to pay child support, 
      • Failure to file taxes, 
      • Voting or false claims to U.S. citizenship, 
      • Having helped someone enter the U.S. illegally, 
      • There are many other issues that may affect your good moral character. Please consult an immigration lawyer.  
    • If you have committed certain crimes, voted, committed fraud, or have left the U.S. for a long period of time (more than 1 year), applying to become a U.S. citizen could put you in danger of deportation. You should consult an immigration lawyer if any of these issues may apply to you. 

 

(Content adapted from Mass.gov https://www.mass.gov/immigration)