Things You Should Know About the U.S. Citizenship Interview

So you’re a lawful permanent resident who has met the requirements to become eligible for U.S. citizenship. You’ve lived as a green card holder in the U.S. for the last five years, and have good moral character. You’ve also submitted your N-400 at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, and you’re already done attending your biometrics appointment where you’ve been fingerprinted. You’re almost at the finish line of the naturalization process! You just have to attend the naturalization interview and citizenship exam, and this article can help you prepare exactly for that.

The citizenship interview has two purposes: to double-check the information you provided and to test your English speaking ability. This may seem intimidating, but you can study ahead of time to prepare for the exam. Having a practice test with an English-speaking friend and brushing up on your American history can effectively prepare you for the citizenship test.

The interviewer will determine whether you’re eligible for citizenship and to become naturalized or not, so the documents and information you provided are accurate. 

Applying for citizenship in the United States is a big move, so don’t hesitate to seek assistance from an immigration law firm in New Jersey. At Andres Mejer Law, we have experienced New Jersey immigration lawyers who can help you understand the immigration and citizenship process, USCIS forms, the civics exam, and other concerns about the naturalization application and citizenship process.

While not all of these questions will be asked by a USCIS Officer during the naturalization interview, it is better to come prepared

The Interview

U.S. Citizenship Like any other interview, it starts with a greeting. Of course, answering properly is the polite thing to do, but also because the interviewer will observe how you converse in English. Also, it is important that you at least know basic English if you want to become a US citizen.

The officer will then ask you if you understand what it means to be placed under oath, and if you solemnly swear/affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

They will ask you about your physical characteristics and personal details such as your name (and if you made any legal changes to it), your birthday, current residence, family background, national affiliation or nationality, education and work history, etc. 

They will also ask you about your relationship status and history and, if married, whether your spouse is an American citizen.

They will also ask you if you will willingly obey and uphold the U.S. constitution, and if you will willingly take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. They will also ask you about your military service history, whether you have served in the armed forces of the United States, or if you’ve ever participated in a U.S. election as a voter (only citizens of the United States are allowed to vote; non-citizens, including those with LPR status, aren’t allowed to vote).

Legal permanent residents who applied for citizenship will also be asked about their immigration status, such as when was their application for nationalization approved, their current citizenship status, or how long they’ve been a green cardholder.

Other citizenship questions that the immigration officer may ask when you apply to become a citizen are related to your immigration history, travel history, tax filings during the time you became a lawful permanent resident (e.g. did you classify yourself as a U.S. non-resident or do you have taxes owed to the US government whether local, state, or federal), and if you have affiliations or membership to certain organizations.

The U.S. Civics Test

During your application to gain American citizenship, a USCIS officer will conduct the interview and simply ask several test questions from the list given to you by USCIS. In some cases, however, USCIS splits the interview into two. One officer will test you on your knowledge of American history and the English language, while another will do the actual interview. 

The list has 100 questions, and to pass the exam and obtain citizenship, you must answer 6 out of ten questions correctly. If you fail to answer enough questions correctly, the interview will be stopped. For first-time applicants, the interview will be rescheduled within the next 90 days. 

After the Interview

Once you passed the interview, a USCIS interviewer will inform you about the citizenship ceremony, usually by mail. And if you’re denied, then you can simply choose to appeal or apply again.

If you still have questions on the citizenship application or how to apply for US citizenship, then don’t hesitate to consult with a New Jersey immigration lawyer. We are committed to helping you become a US citizen. Call us now!

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How Can I Protect Myself from Unfair Treatment at Work?

This is the basic question many potential clients ask us when they come to our Cleveland, Ohio-based employee rights law firm.  Unfortunately, there is no standard answer. Each case is different, and employment laws do not cover all instances of unfair and unjust treatment.

What a Cleveland employee rights attorney can do is help a person understand their rights under federal, state, and local laws. Violations of legally protected rights provide grounds for taking action to end unfair treatment.

A lawyer can also advise a worker on how to use their employer’s system for reporting and resolving mistreatment. When taking such steps does not eliminate the problem, a lawyer can then assist with gathering, organizing, and presenting evidence of mistreatment to regulatory agencies and courts.

Any effort to protect yourself against mistreatment at work begins with knowing your rights as an employee. This article contains brief descriptions of some federal employment laws, but consulting with an employee rights attorney in Cleveland or wherever you live will provide a fuller picture.

You Must Be Paid for the Hours You Work

The Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA) mandates the payment of a minimum wage to employees who get paid by the hour and to employees who regularly receive tips. The FLSA also requires overtime pay for hourly and tipped workers who work more than 40 hours during a 7-day workweek.

Each state sets its own minimum wage, and many exceptions to overtime eligibility exist. For instance, the basic minimum wage in Ohio for 2021 is $8.80 per hour. The tipped wage is $4.40 per hour, but a tipped employee’s average hourly pay must average at least $8.80. In other words, when tips do not make up the difference, the employer must pay the remainder to ensure the employee is paid minimum wage.

Regarding overtime, managers and salaried employees are generally not eligible to receive overtime pay under the FLSA. Employees who earn more than the salary threshold can also be denied overtime pay. The salary threshold changes frequently, but an employee rights attorney will know the current figure.

Some illegal practices employers use to deny workers a minimum wage and overtime pay include assigning bogus managerial titles, requiring work off the clock, telling tipped workers they do not qualify to be paid time-and-half after putting in 40 hours, and designating actual employees as independent contractors who are not covered by the FLSA.

You Cannot Be Paid Less Because You Are a Woman

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) protects a worker’s right to demand the same wage or salary as a coworker of the opposite sex who performs the same job. The EPA covers men and women, but the overwhelming majority of cases involve women who receive lower pay than their male counterparts.

Employers fight EPA claims very strenuously, and the law permits pay differentials based on time spent with the company, skill level, special training, and performance. Enforcing your rights to equal pay will require partnering with an employee rights attorney.

You Have the Right to Work Without Experiencing Discrimination or Abuse

A number of federal laws make it illegal to mistreat or deny employment opportunities to workers on the basis of the following:

  • Race,
  • Ethnicity,
  • National origin,
  • Religion,
  • Sex,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • Gender identity,
  • Religion,
  • Age when older than 40,
  • Disability,
  • Pregnancy, or
  • Military service or veteran status.

Depending on where you live, state and local laws may provide additional protections against discrimination in employment. In most instances, enforcing your rights under laws that prohibit discrimination require evidence that that mistreatment was frequent and severe. Simple teasing and one-off comments will not support a discrimination claim.

It is also important to show that you experienced an adverse consequence of the discrimination. For example, grounds for taking legal action exist if the discrimination caused you to lose your job, you decided to quit to protect yourself, you were passed over for a promotion you were qualified to receive, or you suffered emotional trauma or physical injury.

Your Employer Must Consider Making Accommodations for a Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires managers and supervisors to make good faith efforts to accommodate job applicants or employees. The ADA does not, however, compel an employer to agree to every request an applicant or employee submits.

The gap between what a worker can request and what an employer is willing or able to provide is often large. This is where an employee rights attorney can step in on behalf of their client to find evidence that an employee’s requested accommodation was never seriously considered or improperly denied. Uncovering such evidence often requires accessing business records, which is something an experienced lawyer will know how to do.

You Can Request Leave to Deal with Medical Emergencies or Complete Military Service

Two federal laws cover these circumstances. First, the Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA)gives a person who has worked at least one year for their employer the right to take unpaid leave to tend to a personal health problem or to care for a family member. Generally, up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave is available during each 12-month period. The leave can be taken intermittently, and FMLA leave can only be denied on limited grounds after an employee has given proper advance notice of their intent to take it.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act(USERRA) requires employers to grant leave to employees who are called to active duty in the military. USERRA specifically protects the civilian employment of members of the National Guard and Reserves. While an employee is completing their military duty, their employer must hold their job and guarantee return at a pay rate and level of responsibility equivalent to what the employee had when they left.

Your Employer Cannot Punish or Fire You for Reporting Problems

Employers do not welcome complaints about illegal pay practices, discrimination, or violations of FMLA or USERRA rights. Managers and supervisor often take out this displeasure on the employees who raise red flags. Employees who  address unlawful practices in the workplace can find themselves demoted, reassigned, verbally or physically abused, forced to quit, or fired.

Such retaliation is always illegal. Sadly, it is also quite common. If your mistreatment at work has escalated to retaliation,  contact an employee rights attorney who can offer advice on the steps you can take to hold your employer legally and financially accountable.

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Can You Return to Work After Receiving TPD Payout?

Returning to work after a devastating injury or illness is sometimes easier than done. But it is not necessarily impossible. This in turn begs an important question — or two. What if you get a total and permanent disability (TPD) payout? Can you go back to work after that? Maybe. Then again, maybe not. Keep reading to learn more.

What is TPD insurance?

Total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance is a product that Australians can buy or get as a benefit through their superannuation funds. In either case it acts as a safeguard for someone who has experienced a drastic illness or injury. Specifically, it does so for someone whose injury prevents them from returning to their regular job.

This where things become a bit complicated. Why? Because there is no universal definition of total permanent disability. Instead, the definition varies between insurance providers. Therefore, the ability to return to work after making a TPD claim varies accordingly. Of course, other factors, such as each person’s unique circumstances, are also considered.

The best way to find out if you can go back to work after a TPD claim is to consult a lawyer who is well versed in this area. In the meantime, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Basic TPD policy stipulations

Even if you were badly hurt or seriously ill, there is always a chance that a new treatment or medication may help you regain enough function to work in some capacity. How that affects your ability to do so after a successful TPD claim depends on the policy stipulations.

Being unable to work in your own occupation

Let’s say your TPD policy provides compensation if you are unable to work in your own occupation. With this type of policy, you can make a claim if an injury or illness renders you incapable of doing a job compatible with your training and experience.

To clarify, let’s suppose your warehouse job involves heavy manual labor. Among other things, you’re constantly lifting and moving objects weighing 10 to 20 kilos. One day you hurt your back. Unfortunately the injury renders you incapable of bending, lifting heavy objects and doing other job-related tasks. In this situation you could apply for compensation in the form of a lump sum through your TPD insurance.

But what if your back injury does not prevent you from learning new skills associated with a different job? Here, you can probably return work compatible with your new skill set after your TPD payout.

Being unable to work in any occupation.

Now let’s say you have TPD insurance with a policy that only provides compensation based on your inability to work in any occupation. As its name indicates, you can only seek lump sum compensation through this policy if an injury or illness prevents you from working at all.

So, let’s suppose if you sustained a traumatic brain injury that prevents you from working in any capacity. Clearly, you could apply for lump sum compensation under this policy.

But here’s something else to consider. Suppose a new treatment or therapy comes along. And suppose it helps you get better after you receive your TPD payout? If your recovery is such that you can resume work in some way, you can usually return to work. This is true, even after you get your lump sum TPD benefit.

Additional TPD and related policy stipulations

Your ability to go back to work after a TPD payout may also hinge upon two additional factors. One is whether or not your TPD insurance includes additional stipulations. The other is whether your situation meets the stipulated criteria.

Examples include provisions related to activities of daily living (ADL) and provisions related to loss of one or more limbs.

ADL provisions

ADL provisions usually (but not always) stipulate that you must be incapable of doing any two of the following activities unaided, by yourself:

  • Getting dressed
  • Taking a shower or bath
  • Ambulating (walking, standing, getting into bed)
  • Eating
  • Using the toilet

If you can do any of these things while using an adaptive or supportive device, you probably won’t meet relevant criteria. If you do meet the criteria, however, you may be able to return to work after a TPD claim. More specifically, you may be able to do so with no effect on your benefit.

Loss of limb provisions

To reiterate, different TPD policies contain different language pertaining to the loss of one or more limbs. Common stipulations mandate that you have lost, or have lost the use of:

  • Both arms
  • Both legs
  • One arm and one leg.

If you experienced the loss of or loss of use of any limbs as detailed above, you may be able to return to work after a successful TPD claim. Just as importantly, you may be able to do so with no effect on your claim or claims.

Repayment of TPD payout upon return to work

One of the most common concerns people have when they make TPD claims is the repayment of benefits. Specifically, they are worried that they will have to repay the benefit if they go back to work.

The good news is that this concern is unwarranted. Repayment is not usually required if the recipient goes back to work.

Remember, however, that you cannot provide inaccurate or misleading information to the insurance provider when you make a TPD claim. Deliberately doing so allows the provider to seek repayment of benefit based on a fraudulent claim.

To avoid any additional complications, it is critical that you consult an lawyer who can help you understand the nuances of making a TPD claim.

If you’re in the situation where you need to make a claim on your TPD policy, contact Perth Workers Compensation Lawyers today for an initial case assessment. Check out the rest of our site to find one near you.

Australia Lawyers is a network of expert lawyers who provide high quality, innovative legal help to those who need it. Our objective at Australia Lawyers is to provide legal help to people who want legal help from lawyers who have strong expertise and experience and a proven track record in their relevant area of law.

Who is Eligible to Apply for an Adjustment of Status?

U.S. immigration laws provide different ways for a foreign national to apply for a Green Card or Lawful Permanent Resident status. The eligibility requirements to gain a green card status in New Jersey vary depending on the immigrant category you’re applying under, so it’s important that you know which specific immigrant category you’re qualified for.

An “adjustment of status” is the process you can use to change your immigration status from being a visa holder to a green cardholder. Once you’re a green card holder, you’re considered a legal permanent resident of the U.S. You can apply for permanent residency at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office if you’re already in the U.S.

This is different from a “consular processing” where the immigrant goes to a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country to apply for lawful permanent residence which involves attending immigration interviews there and submitting immigration paperwork and other documents. 

In general, there are 4 requirements that you must qualify to adjust status in New Jersey:

  1. You’ve entered the U.S. lawfully
  2. You have a lawful presence in the United States
  3. You’ve complied with all the terms in your visa
  4. You’re qualified to get a green card application

However, there are rare cases where an illegal alien may still be eligible to adjust status. For example, they have an employment-based immigrant visa that has expired causing them to overstay. They can apply for adjustment of status within 180 days upon their visa expiration. To help with your adjustment of status, it is best to consult an immigration lawyer in New Jersey.

Who Can Use Adjustment of Status in the Green Card Eligibility Categories?

Adjustment of Status Not everyone is qualified to adjust their status. However, you are eligible if you qualify under any of the following:

  • You are eligible to start your green card application, whether through sponsorship by your U.S. employer, a relative who is a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen or by having a refugee or asylum status at least a year before your application.
  • If you’re eligible through family immigration or employment immigration, your petition form must already be approved by the USCIS and your priority date is current to continue with your green card application. Priority dates are for immigration applicants under preference categories that are subject to annual limits. However, not everyone faces numerical limits or waiting times; for example, you don’t have to wait when getting a green card in the immediate relative category because they release unlimited numbers of visas annually.
  • You’ve entered the United States through a fiance visa (K-1 visa) and married your U.S. citizen partner who sponsored your application within 90 days. 
  • You have been granted asylum/refugee status in the United States for 1 year.
  • You are physically present in the United States.

If you don’t qualify for an adjustment of status even though you fit most of the criteria above (for example you’ve entered the U.S. as an illegal immigrant or you’ve committed other visa violations), there’s still hope, because there are certain laws which can allow you to adjust status, and it’s best to consult with an experienced New Jersey immigration lawyer to specifically help with your case.

Immigration laws are complex. If you need immigration assistance, our New Jersey immigration attorneys can help. 

Our lawyers at Andres Mejer Law can provide you with the immigration solutions specific to your case. Contact us today for a free legal strategy session. 

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