We had a busy night at our legal clinic last week at the Banshee in Dorchester. A theme repeated by attorney Chris Lavery on the night was his repeated reminders to new arrivals in the US about doing things the right way and staying legal in the US. Those who were contemplating overstaying visas were advised against doing so and reminded about the challenges facing people who are undocumented in the US at the present time.
A number of those present were on J visas which are expiring in the year ahead. Some have decided to go to graduate school and switch from the J visa to the F1 student visa. Chris assured them that it was an appropriate avenue where someone wants to pursue additional studies in the US. Interestingly, a number of those present last week already had Bachelor’s degrees from Irish universities. The attorneys suggested that graduate degree programs at some US community colleges might cost in the region of $15,000 to $20,000. Most of these colleges have international student advisors to help people through the process.
Immigration Reform

A few people attended the clinic hoping to take some steps to regularize their status after hearing news of reform. Unfortunately it is way too early for people to engage legal counsel for such matter. Reform of the immigration laws might yet take months to achieve and even if some changes are passed into law, it will be months more before people will be given an opportunity to apply for any kind of temporary status. As soon as there is concrete news of changes to immigration laws, we will publish the information here. Meantime people are asked to call their senators and congressional representatives and encourage them to support reform efforts.
Getting new US passports

As we approach the summer and vacation season, we remind those who we have helped get US citizenship to get their US passports. People should review their travel documents from time to time to make sure that they are in order. Too often a call comes from Ireland with news of a death or sudden illness, and people are shocked to find out that their passports are expired or that they can’t find them. Such travel documents should always be kept in a fireproof safe. On the US passports, all the information you need is online at the US government website. There is a toll free number to call for the issuance of emergency passports. To find the closest passport service center to you and to print downloadable forms, visit the State Department’s website at www.state.gov
For non-expedited passport needs, one should visit a local post office to pick up an application. Depending upon your desired shipping method and fee schedule, this date can be expedited slightly. You will need to complete an application, and you will need proof of US citizenship.
You will need two photographs. These photographs should be two identical ones taken of you alone, sufficiently recent to be a good likeness (normally taken within the last 6 months. All the information on photograph requirements is on the government website.
You will need the fee: check the website to make sure you have the correct amount. The passport is valid for 10 years from the date of issue except where limited by the Secretary of State to a shorter period. There are extra fees for any application for expedited service and because of sudden emergencies we always advise people to use the expedited service.
Next Legal Clinic

Our next legal clinic will be on May 7th at 6:30 pm in The Banshee, 934 Dorchester Ave. Dorchester. Meantime call or email me with any questions.
Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in it is provided to inform generally, and is not intended as a substitute for individual advice. Immigration law is subject to frequent changes and individual circumstances can affect the application of certain legal provisions. For individual legal advice, please contact the Irish Pastoral Centre directly regarding upcoming legal clinics or consultation with an immigration attorney.