Citizenship 101, Part II

May 21, 2019

You asked? We answered! Citizenship 101, Part II

Oftentimes as soon as they arrive in Sioux Falls our clients and students ask when they can apply for citizenship because they want to bring their whole family. Following are more answers to some of their frequently asked questions about the long road to citizenship.

My name is misspelled – can I change it?                             

  • Yes. A name change for whatever reason is free when you become a US citizen. If you want to change your name at any other time, you have to hire a private attorney, go to court and pay a fee.

My date of birth is wrong – can I change it?                                                        

  • It is extremely difficult to change a date of birth. You need to present an original certificate or an original baptismal record, either one issued at or around the time of your birth.  Or you need to have witnesses who were present at your birth and will swear under oath which is the correct date. After you become a citizen, you cannot change the date any more as you swore under oath that all the information on the application is correct.                            

Citizenship 101, Part IICan I get a waiver for the citizenship interview?                           

  • Under specific circumstances, all or parts of the regular citizenship requirements can be waived.  If you are 50 or older and have lived in the US with a valid green card for at least 20 years, you can do the interview in your native language and you only need to do the 100 questions. The same applies if you are 55 or older and have lived in the US with a valid green card for at least 15 years. If you are 65 or older and have lived in the US with a valid green card for at least 20 years, you only need to study 20 questions.  A request for a medical waiver has to include a doctor’s diagnosis and the reason why this affliction prevents you from learning. A teacher’s statement about your progress in the classroom is also helpful. If USCIS accepts the disability waiver you can have an interpreter present and you only need to answer questions about your application.

What will prevent me from getting citizenship?                                                               

  • The most common reason for not obtaining citizenship is a lack of English, both oral and written. Attending English classes and studying hard will usually result in a successful citizenship application. A criminal record will substantially delay or even stop the application process. Convictions for domestic violence, 2 shoplifting convictions, drug and gun violations are taken very seriously by Homeland Security and will result in deportation proceedings. If you have a criminal record, please consult with an immigration lawyer before starting the application process.

Which family members can I bring to the US?                                                               

  • Citizenship 101, Part IIAs a US citizen you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 and your parents with no wait time. You can also bring married children of any age. You can bring your siblings, but depending on their country of origin the wait time will be 10 years or longer. As a green card holder you can bring your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 with a wait time of 2 years, unmarried older children may have to wait more than 7 years.

Thanks for tuning in to our 2-part FAQs about Immigration! If you’d like more information, visit the USCIS page.

Written by Silke Hansen, ESL Instructor, with the assistance of Janice Godtland, Immigration Lawyer, both at the LSS Center for New Americans in Sioux Falls.


The Center for New Americans wants YOU!

May 20, 2019

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – MLK, Jr.

Are you kind, compassionate, and welcoming? The Center for New Americans wants YOU!
Do you love to laugh and make new friends?
Are you interested in meeting people from all over the world?
Do you love to spread joy and knowledge?
Are you looking for a way to be part of an awesome community of learners?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we want YOU!

Join us! Tuesday, May 28th! 6-8 pm!

The Center for New Americans is looking for some awesome people to join our Classroom Assistant volunteer team and our Mentor volunteer team. We are holding an orientation for new volunteers on Tuesday, May 28th from 6 – 8 pm with the CNA Volunteer Coordinator Diana Streleck. This orientation is for anyone, regardless of where or when you want to volunteer. In this orientation, you will learn more about refugee resettlement and volunteer expectations.

Our biggest need right now is for volunteers during the day in our education classrooms. Volunteers are 2nd teachers in the classroom, helping with anything from one-on-one tutoring in reading to encouraging speaking skills. (Any retired teachers out there? Come spend some time in our classrooms!)

As a volunteer, you can choose how many days you want to spend: Once a week? Great! Twice a month? Wonderful! Every day? You bet! And I promise you, this will be the best 2 hours of your day, week, or month.

For more information, please visit our Volunteer Info Page and give Diana a call TODAY at 605-731-2051 or email her at

The Center for New Americans wants YOU!


By Lindy Obach, ESL Instructor, Center for New Americans

Is Adoption Right for You?

May 15, 2019

Is Adoption Right for You? Hope Comes in All Sizes. Picture of a happy toddler with outstretched arms. When you are thinking about adoption, there are a lot of opinions. Lutheran Social Services Adoption Services is experienced. We are based on a long tradition of caring in the best interests of children. When it’s time to discuss adoption, we’re here. We are a licensed agency in South Dakota. Lutheran Social Services can help guide you through the entire process.

Understanding all your Adoption Options

Adoption is a huge decision for any woman. When faced with a pregnancy, you are not ‘giving up’ by choosing adoption. You are actually giving your child a generous gift. You are also giving a gift to their future family. It helps to see adoption that way.

Lutheran Social Services knows the details. We also know the differences. Our job is to help you understand your options and not be overwhelmed. We offer counseling with care and expertise, no matter where you are at in your decision making process.

Birth moms and dads, and adoptive parents should know all their options:

  • Domestic adoption
  • International adoption
  • Identified adoption
  • Contract adoption services

Domestic adoption has a wide range of options. Both parties can determine their level of contact together. Lutheran Social Services domestic adoption services includes:

  • Pre-adoption counseling
  • Home studies
  • Meeting birth parents
  • Placement services
  • Post placement services

International adoption can take place with agencies around the world. Why do some adoptive families choose this type of adoption? Many areas of the world suffer greatly with overpopulation, lack of resources, war and poverty. Adopting internationally is a wonderful way to help a child. Of course, it is also a great gift to an adoptive family with love to share.

Identified adoption is another choice. Identified adoption is when a birth family identifies the adoptive family. It could be a grandmother, family friend or someone else. This decision is usually made prior to coming to Lutheran Social Services. We can help both the birth family and adoptive family. We provide home studies, support and post placement services. We also assist with the laws that apply to a child who is born in a state other than South Dakota.

Contract adoption services are coordinated through various agencies, public or private or attorneys. Because LSS has years of expertise, we can assist in this process. We partner with you to assure the process goes smoothly.

Adoption is not merely open or closed anymore. There are many ways adoptions can take place. We want you to feel comfortable with your choice. We also aim to give every adopted child a home.

The Benefits of Adoption and LSS

Adoption has many benefits. One is providing a loving home to a child. As a birth mother, you can give a great gift of a family to your child with the peace of mind that you are making the best decision. All adoptive families with LSS go through a rigorous home study process. LSS supports you in forming relationships with the family and your child.

It’s important to know that Lutheran Social Services stays involved. We provide ongoing support and guidance. We are there before, during and after an adoption. We also host educational and support meetings throughout the year.

If you are pregnant and considering adoption, or a family looking to adopt, contact LSS today at 888-201-5061 or online. LSS is here to help.

Dreams and Student Loan Debt

May 9, 2019

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Me?  I don’t know, but I’ll let you know when I do finally grow up….. (imagine a rim shot here).  But seriously, it’s a big question that our kids are thinking about early on in their lives.  As most of us adults know, that will probably change over time, perhaps even mid-college degree.

A poll put out by Fatherly and the New York Times reported the top ten careers that kids want to do.  At the top of the list were doctor and veterinarian.  Great professions.  Very noble work.  A LOT of student loan debt.  After just a quick search online, I found those in each of these careers could VERY easily end up with over $100,000 in student loan debt.

That’s a new house. Read the rest of this entry »

Are You Pregnant and Considering Adoption?

May 9, 2019

When you are pregnant, you face many choices. It can be a scary time, especially if the pregnancy is unplanned. Lutheran Social Services offers pregnancy counseling to help in this difficult time.

Pregnancy Counseling

I'm pregnant, but I have hope. Picture of young woman contemplating.Our trained pregnancy counselors can be reached online and will travel to your home or a convenient meeting place. Our services are available throughout South Dakota. When you meet with your counselor, you can discuss all your options.

If you choose to parent, your counselor will connect you with the resources you need. It is important for pregnant women to maintain prenatal care for both the mother and the baby. In addition, our counselors will continue appointments with you throughout your pregnancy.

Choosing Adoption

The choice of adoption is a wonderful gift. While adoption should never be taken lightly, the options for adoption have changed a lot. You may select an adoptive family from our book of profiles. You can meet the adoptive family if you wish. Together, you can both decide the level of contact you would like.

Your counselor will assist you every step of the way. We will walk you through the decision making process and all your options. Our goal is to help you make the decision that is best for you and your baby.

Following Through on Your Decision

While adoption can seem overwhelming, Lutheran Social Services is here to help. We will guide you through the various forms and legal papers that are required. We can also introduce you to other birth mothers who have made adoption plans.

As a birth mother, you do have the option to build a relationship with your adoptive family. In addition, you can mentor other birth mothers with your experience. Your pregnancy counselor will continue to work with you throughout and provide post-placement counseling.

The Outcome of Adoption Services

 Adoption services are based on doing what is in the best interest of children – and in the best interest of birth parents. We understand there are many difficult decisions to be made. But Lutheran Social Services treats every individual with patience, compassion and professionalism.

If you are pregnant and considering your options, contact LSS today at 888-201-5061 or online. LSS is here to help.

Home Remedies from Around the World Part 1

May 7, 2019

This past month we have been talking about health care with our students. In my upper level English class, we discussed some home remedies that my students use. I learned so much from them!


Home Burn Remedies

stacked tomatoes onions and potatoes

From cooking mishaps to fun in the summer sun, we all have burns sometimes.  Here are a few of the responses I received from my students on the best ways to take care of them.

El Salvador ~ When I get a burn, I use aloe vera on my burn. I put tomato on it and then I feel better. I put cold water on the burn. I use honey and put on the burn.
Iraq ~ When I burn my hand, I will put tomato paste on a burn.
Venezuela ~ When I have a burn, I put onion on it, I rinse in a lot of cold water, or I put a slice of potato on it.

a jar of honey
So naturally I had to look up the benefits of putting a tomato slice on a burn, and sure enough there is a chemical called lycopene in tomatoes that reduces the heat from a burn and helps relieve the pain. Additionally honey has antiseptic properties for burns, and potato slices, especially the peel of a potato, will hold a lot of water and keep a burn from drying out too fast. Finally onion juice, too, has natural pain relievers.


Home Cough Remedies


artful pic of honey paste with garlic
The cold season is finally winding down, but allergy season is making its presence known, so my students gladly gave me ideas to help with coughing.

Guatemala ~ When I have cough, I drink hot water with honey and ginger.
Ukraine ~ When I have a cough, I drink tea with honey, ginger, and lemon.
Ethiopia ~ I drink milk with honey and garlic. I mix garlic and milk together. I boil for a few minutes and after that drink I feel better.
Eritrea ~ When I have a cough, I drink warm water. I drink lemon with tea. I take vitamin C; for example, lemon, tomatoes, or an orange. We have to drink hot water early in the morning.


artful pic of milk and garlic
The remedy that surprised me most here was the garlic and honey milk. Although both garlic and honey are said to have benefits for colds and coughs, I do not know if I could stomach warm garlic milk. I might have to stick to the other suggestions.


woman contemplating drinking a glass of milk


Catch me next time when I discuss even more home remedies!

Written by Heather Glidewell, ESL Instructor

Top 10 Things Birth Mothers want YOU to Know

May 6, 2019

The day before Mother’s Day is recognized as Birth Mother’s Day (May 11, 2019) . Here are ten of the ten thousand things birth mothers want the world to know. Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: