Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I find information on becoming a citizen?
Visit ONA’s Citizenship webpage to find out the requirements of citizenship and the steps to apply. You can find more information on the USCIS website. You can get assistance applying for citizenship by attending a citizenship workshop near you, or visiting a Chicago Public Library Citizenship Corner or your local library.
How do I apply for Deferred Action?
Visit ONA’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals webpage to learn about eligibility for DACA and to access the required application forms and other resources. You can also attend a free DACA legal clinic hosted by the National Immigrant Justice Center.
How can I check the status of my immigration visa or citizenship application, or that of a relative outside the US?
If you have a USCIS application receipt number, you can check the status of an application by visiting the USCIS website. To check the status of an immigrant visa for a relative outside the U.S., contact the National Visa Center via their online web form or by calling 603.334.0700.
Where can I find immigration application forms?
Immigration application forms can be accessed on the USCIS website, or by calling 800.870.3676.
Where can I obtain the medical exam required for my immigrant application?
You may be required to undergo a medical exam in order to receive an adjustment of status. This exam must be conducted by a medical professional approved by USCIS. A list of these doctors in your area can be found at https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor by entering your zip code in the search bar. Note that the examination fee is not standard so rates may vary by doctor. You may wish to call ahead to receive rates. For more information, see https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/immigration-medical-examinations/finding-medical-doctor.
How do I know if my immigration service provider is legitimate?
Before working with an immigration service provider (also known as a “notario”), ask to see their City of Chicago license. Immigration service providers are not allowed to provide legal services nor provide legal advice.
If you find an unlicensed notario, or a notario that is NOT providing you the legally required statements and disclosures, please immediately call 311 to report this.
You have the legal right to be provided the following:
- A full explanation of the services to be performed,that includes an identification of ALL costs.
- A statement assuring you that all your documents will be returned to you upon completion.
- A statement that you may rescind the contract within 72 hours.
- A statement declaring that the notario is NOT an attorney and is NOT able to perform legal services or provide legal advice.
- You have the right to request these documents in a language other than English.
- A formal contract that includes ALL services to be performed and ALL costs.
Please note that Chicago law sets the maximum fees for services and the notario should not charge prices above those maximum fees set. For example, the maximum fee for the completion of one document is set at $75. You should not be charged more than $75 for the service of having one form filled out.
Immigration assistance providers may offer the following services:
- Provide appropriate government forms as long as legal advice is not given.
- Transcribe responses to a government agency.
- Translate instructions, questions and answers on forms.
- Assist in obtaining documents, such as birth and marriage certificates.
- Translate documents from another language into English.
- If licensed as a Notary Public, notarize signatures on government forms.
- Refer clients, without fee, to attorneys.
- Arrange for medical testing and the collection of results.
- Conduct English language and civics courses.
- Prepare or arrange for the preparation of photographs and fingerprints.
What should I do if I suspect I have been the victim of immigration fraud?
If you suspect that you have been the victim of immigration fraud, or if you find an unlicensed notario, or a notario that is NOT providing you the legally required statements and disclosures, please immediately call 311 to report this.
Where can I find an immigration court?
The Chicago Immigration Court, part of the Executive Office for Immigration Review under the U.S. Department of Justice, is located at 525 W. Van Buren St., Suite 500 in Chicago. For more information, visit http://www.justice.gov/eoir/chicago-immigration-court.
Where can I find free legal service providers to help me with my immigration proceedings?
The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a list of pro bono legal service providers in Illinois and across the country.
Where can I obtain a passport?
If you are a U.S. citizen seeking a U.S. passport, you can find your nearest location to apply here. For immediate travel, visit the Chicago Passport Agency for assistance.
If you need a passport for another country, visit the Consulate for that country.
Where can I learn English?
City Colleges of Chicago offers free English classes to Illinois residents who are non-native English speakers. English as a Second Language (ESL) courses range from providing basic language and life skills for complete beginners to helping advanced students refine their English in preparation for higher education, vocational training, or a career. Reading, writing, listening, speaking, and grammar are included at all levels of instruction. Find a program on CCC’s website.
For online English-learning opportunities, see:
Activities for ESL Students - Quizzes, exercises and puzzles for English language learners.
Cambridge Learner's Dictionary - Find meanings of words and hear how to pronounce them.
The Classroom - Activities, quizzes and lessons. From Voice of America.
U.S.A. Learns - Online English classes.
Where can I find information about city services in my native language?
Dial 311 from your phone to speak with an operator and request assistance in the language of your choice. The operators have access to translators who can provide translation for more than 100 languages. In addition, speakers of Spanish, Chinese, Polish, and Arabic can translate all City of Chicago webpages by clicking on their preferred language in the top right corner of each page.
What is the City of Chicago doing to ensure that Chicagoans can access services regardless of the language they speak?
As part of Mayor Emanuel’s overall effort to implement policies and programs outlined in the Chicago New Americans Plan, the Mayor appointed a diverse group of community, legal, and civic leaders in July of 2014 and tasked them with developing a language access policy to ensure that immigrants and Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) residents have meaningful access to City services, resources, and programs.
Following months of discussions and a comprehensive review of data and best practice research, the Language Access Advisory Committee developed a set of recommendations for the City to pursue. To read the Advisory Committee’s recommendations, please visit: Recommendations from Chicago’s Language Access Advisory Committee
Following these recommendations, the City passed a “Language Access Ordinance” to ensure that immigrants are able to access critical services and information in the most common languages spoken in Chicago. The full text of the ordinance can be found on the City Clerk’s website.
How do I enroll my child in school?
Enrollment decisions should be made in the best educational interest of your child. In addition to your neighborhood school, Chicago Public Schools offers a variety of programs that appeal to students' interests and talents. You can learn about your educational choices and enroll on the CPS webpage.
If your child is under the age of five, you are encouraged to enroll your child in preschool, where they will have the opportunity to learn and practice the social-emotional, problem-solving, and academic skills that they will use throughout their lives. Preschool programs that meet your family’s needs can be found at http://chicagoearlylearning.org/ or by calling the Chicago Ready to Learn Hotline at 312.229.1690.
I wish to start my own business. What do I need to do?
The Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) offers business education workshops every Wednesday and Friday. Workshops vary each month and are conducted by City Officials, experts, and partner business organizations. All workshops are free, and open to the public. Workshops are held at BACP's offices located in Room 805 and Room 1103 at City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St., Chicago, IL 60602. The calendar of workshops can be found here.
The Department of Procurement Services (DPS) hosts numerous free workshops and events throughout the year so you can learn about the procurement process. These classes are offered monthly or quarterly and provide opportunities for greater knowledge on governmental contracting policies and procedures in order to increase competition and minority and women-owned business utilization on City contracts. The calendar of workshops can be found here.
To learn more about the assistance available to Chicagoans interested in owning their own business, visit the online Small Business Center.
Where can I find information on healthcare in Chicago?
Visit ONA’s page on healthcare facilities.
How do I go about finding housing in Chicago?
Visit ONA’s page on housing options.
Where can I find additional assistance for New Americans?
For a list of organizations throughout Chicago that provide support to immigrants from all over the world, see ONA’s Community Resources page.