The Refugee Support Center is a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognized organization. We received this approval in 2015 and are the only organization in Orange County with this designation. Recognized organizations must demonstrate that they primarily serve low-income and indigent clients and have a written policy to accommodate those unable to pay for immigration legal services. In addition, we have a BIA accredited representative on staff, trained and authorized to provide limited immigration legal services to refugees. These services include submission of applications for family reunification, permanent residency, naturalization and derivative citizenship.
Family Reunification: Sometimes families are separated when some members receive approval for resettlement in the US before other family members do. Approved individuals do not have the option to wait until all members are approved before being resettled, and severe disruptions occur. The process of reunification is a lengthy one, taking from one to three years, but one RSC is pleased to facilitate.
Permanent Residency: Obtaining a “green card” is significant for refugees. Applications can be submitted after refugees have been in the US for one year. Once an application is received by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), the approval process takes from six to nine months.
Citizenship: A major achievement for any refugee is the acquisition of citizenship. After fleeing their native country, refugees long for a sense of belonging that is provided when sworn in as citizens. Applications can be submitted when a refugee has resided in the US for five years. Each applicant has a face-to-face interview which includes a rigorous civics/history test and an evaluation of English-speaking and listening skills.
Derivative Citizenship: This is a type of citizenship given to minor children, those under 18, through parents who have been naturalized, if certain conditions are met. Birth certificates must be submitted along with applications. If parents were not issued birth certificates, affidavits can be used.
Please do not ever give legal advice to another refugee or help them fill out any immigration forms. Only licensed attorneys specializing in immigration law and representatives who are accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals are authorized to provide immigration legal advice. Please encourage any refugee who has a question about green cards, family reunification, citizenship, or other immigration matters to contact an immigration attorney or BIA accredited representative.
Citizenship Test Preparation:
We offer citizenship classes as well as tutors to work with refugees planning on applying for naturalization. Once the applicant obtains an interview date, RSC staff will do simulation interviews with the applicant.
Fee Waiver Requests:
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires fees for certain immigration forms. RSC can submit an application for eligible applicants and assist them in gathering supporting documentation to demonstrate an inability to pay. In addition, RSC can help complete Request for Reduced Fee (Partial Fee Waiver) forms.