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General Information for Immigrants

Legal Information
Asian woman with two office workers.

This section of PALawHelp.org has resources and General Information for Immigrants in Pennsylvania.

Click on a resource category listed below to see information related to that category.

ImmigrationLawHelp.org - Pennsylvania Organizations

List of organizations in Pennsylvania from ImmigrationLawHelp.org offering assistance, counseling or representation in immigration issues.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS - Immigrants’ Rights

Regardless of your immigration status, you have guaranteed rights under the Constitution. Learn more here from the American Civil Liberties Union about your rights as an immigrant, and how to express them.

Know Your Rights - With the Police and Immigration Agents

Know your rights with the police and immigration agents on the street, in your car, and at your home. (September 2015)

Planning for Custody and Care of Children: an Informational Guide for Immigrant Families

This guide is designed to provide important basic information about child custody to immigrant families.

Resources for Immigrants

This guide from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will provide you with information and resources for Pennsylvania immigrants. The information posted in this guide may include hyperlinks to information created and maintained by other public or private organizations.

Legal and Humanitarian Aid Hotline

The detention hotline is a free legal advice call line that detainees can access in their own language, with the comfort of having someone they can trust, that will connect them with more suitable services that fit their case.

File My Application Online (E-Filing)

This is a location where you can file certain application documents online with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Submitting your application online provides you with several benefits. Get helpful instructions and tips from USCIS as you complete your form using the secure online filing system, avoid common mistakes, and pay your fees online.

Forms Updates

This page from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lists updates to USCIS forms as they are published, along with a brief explanation of the nature of the update.

Immigration Forms and Fees

Downloadable Immigration Forms from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Paying USCIS Filing Fees

Information on how you pay the filing fees (including biometrics and other fees) that are required to file many forms with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This will depend on whether you are inside or outside of the United States.

Case Status Online Service

This website from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allows you to check the status of BCIS applications for which a receipt letter (Form I797) was issued.

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Fact Sheets

Fact Sheets from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) whose primary mission is to adjudicate immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation's immigration laws. Under delegated authority from the Attorney General, EOIR conducts immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings.

Federal Court Finder

Find a federal court location by location or court name, including appellate, district, bankruptcy, probation and pretrial office, or federal defender organization. Each District Court has its own local forms which are generally available on the Court website.

File My Application Online (E-Filing)

This is a location where you can file certain application documents online with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Submitting your application online provides you with several benefits. Get helpful instructions and tips from USCIS as you complete your form using the secure online filing system, avoid common mistakes, and pay your fees online.

Forms Updates

This page from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services lists updates to USCIS forms as they are published, along with a brief explanation of the nature of the update.

Immigration Forms and Fees

Downloadable Immigration Forms from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Paying USCIS Filing Fees

Information on how you pay the filing fees (including biometrics and other fees) that are required to file many forms with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This will depend on whether you are inside or outside of the United States.

Do You Need a Court Interpreter? (Video)

This video from the PA Courts explains how to request a court interpreter; what to expect; how to communicate with court staff outside the courtroom; and who is qualified to be a court interpreter.

Green Card Eligibility Categories

In order to apply for a Green Card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed on this page. Once you find the category that may fit your situation, click on the link provided to get information on eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you.

Green Card for Asylees

U.S. immigration law allows asylees to apply for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after they have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year since being granted asylum. This page provides specific information for asylees in the United States who want to become LPRs (get a Green Card). This is called “adjustment of status.”

Green Card for Employment-Based Immigrants

You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. This provides information and directions from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the steps to apply for lawful permanent residence or "green card" through a job or offer of employment.

"How Do I" Immigration Guides

The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) has created a series of documents that they call "How Do I...?s" These documents cover a wide variety of topics on immigration matters and are meant to assist you in finding the information you need about a particular immigration and asylum subject.

Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires applicants and petitioners for certain immigration benefits to attend a biometric services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC) to provide fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. This web page provides information about this process.

Resources for Immigrants

This guide from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will provide you with information and resources for Pennsylvania immigrants. The information posted in this guide may include hyperlinks to information created and maintained by other public or private organizations.

Temporary Protected Status

Questions and answers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regarding Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Includes a list of eligible countries and links to forms and local low-cost immigration legal services providers.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services YouTube Channel

This is the official channel of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on YouTube. It contains an extensive collection of videos on Citizenship and Naturalization; E-Verify; Avoiding Immigration Fraud; and Human Trafficking Awareness.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Fact Sheets

Listing of Fact Sheets available from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Enforcement and Removal, Homeland Security Investigations and Management and Administration.

Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants

This is a comprehensive guide for new citizens of the United States from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It contains practical information to help immigrants settle into everyday life in the United States, as well as basic civics information that introduces new immigrants to the U.S. system of government. [PDF]

What Is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. This provides additional information about human trafficking, how to deal with it, and how to report if you are a victim of trafficking.

Beware of Dishonest Immigration Consultants [PDF]

Brochure from the National Consumer Law Center discussing how to look out for dishonest immigration consultants. [PDF]

Find Legal Help for Unaccompanied Minors in Immigration

The Unaccompanied Children Resource Center maintains a directory of free and low-cost immigration legal services providers that can be searched by state, county or zip code, as well as information about what happens in immigration court and information on requirements to secure status in certain special circumstances.

How to defend your own case/Como defender su propio caso

These self-help materials are designed for detainees to use in representing themselves when applying for some common forms of legal relief from removal. Please note they are written for detainees in Arizona and most were last updated in 2013, with support from the American College of Trial Lawyers Emil Gumpert Award. These publications are meant to provide useful basic information about immigration law and detention in removal in Arizona and were created in the course of the Florence Project’s work. Under no circumstances do they constitute legal advice.

immi

Immi helps immigrants in the U.S. understand their legal options. The online screening tool, legal information, and referrals to nonprofit legal services organizations are always free to use. Immi was created by the Immigration Advocates Network and Pro Bono Net, two nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing access to justice for low-income immigrants.

Immigrant Eligibility for Disaster Assistance

Information on disaster relief services provided for families with members who are not U.S. citizens. It also applies to agencies that help immigrant families affected by a disaster. (June 2007)

immi Learning Center

The immi learning center is your resource for learning about U.S. immigration and how to stay in the U.S. legally. Browse the glossary for basic terms and concepts. Or read more detail about common ways to stay in the U.S.

immi - Search for Legal Help

Immi helps immigrants in the U.S. understand their legal options. Our online screening tool, legal information, and referrals to nonprofit legal services organizations are always free to use. Immi works with legal aid organizations across the U.S. to connect immigrants to legal help. Enter your address or zip code to see a list of organizations in your area.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Everyone has certain basic rights, no matter who is president

Description of the basic rights everyone living in the United States, including undocumented immigrants, have under the United State Constitution. (July 2019)

Notarios Notorios (Notorious Notarios) (Video)

A notary public in America is not the equivalent of a notario publico in Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico. A notary public is not a lawyer and is not authorized by the state to give legal advice or provide legal services. This video from the Visual Legal Advocacy Project at Penn Law, which is in Spanish and English, is intended to assist consumers in avoiding confusion between notaries and notarios when seeking legal help with immigration matters. (19:38) (August 2009)

Tips on Protecting Yourself When You Hire an Immigration Lawyer or Legal Advisor (Video)

These videos from the Visual Legal Advocacy Project at Penn Law offer information useful to anyone in Pennsylvania seeking competent, state-authorized legal assistance with an immigration matter. One video is in Cantonese and English with Simplified Chinese subtitles; it features attorney Tsiwen M. Law, Esquire. The second video is in Fuzhou and English with Simplified Chinese subtitles; it features attorney Elaine Y. Cheung, Esquire.

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