In a series of comprehensive events throughout the city, CUNY Citizenship Now! is providing free, high quality, and confidential citizenship and immigration law services to help individuals and families on their path to U.S. citizenship. This past Saturday, City Councilmembers Eric Ulrich, Ruben Wills and Karen Koslowitz brought one of the events to Richmond Hill High School.
Program Director Alan Wernick said “we would cease to be America were it not for immigration.” And to that end Wernick added that the great success of the program is attributable to volunteers, who put everything together, and elected officials, who spread the help throughout their districts by hosting the events.
“It’s all about people understanding the big mission.” Wernick said that generally speaking, if 75 applicants are assisted at an event, then it is considered a successful one. This past Saturday, by 1 p.m., more than 150 people had been processed and the building was still filled with waiting applicants.
“It’s a wonderful thing that we can all come together and help people earn one of the greatest privileges in the world–United State citizenship,” Councilman Ulrich told the crowd. “We are witnessing the beginning of so many American dreams here. The City Council remains committed to these events and our efforts are led by Speaker Christine Quinn, who is truly a champion of immigration.”
Manny Ramierez, who got his citizenship two years ago through the program, was in attendance at Saturday’s event with two of his brothers who are seeking the same help that Manny received. “This is the most important thing my brothers can do since they came to this country,” Ramierez said. “I am proud to be an American citizen. It makes a difference in my life.”
And Ramierez was not alone in his feelings of appreciation. Sanji Narine said without the help he would never be able to make the financial provisions to seek out professional help. “You need more than willingness to become a citizen. You need money for an attorney and other fees. These people from CUNY, they are not just making citizens, they are making dreams come true.”
Future applicants can contact any one of nine centers located throughout New York City for free immigration assistance. The CUNY-sponsored program provides immigration attorneys and paralegals for confidential, one-on-one consultations on all issues, including naturalization, adjustment of status, family-based petitions, and other citizenship related issues.
by Pat Adams
The goal of Citizenship Now! events is to help eligible individuals prepare forms N-400, Application for Naturalization. Most events are held on Saturdays. During Citizenship Now! events applicants receive the following services:
Evaluation of eligibility for naturalization.
Assistance in completing the N-400 Application for Naturalization form.
Information on gathering the documents necessary to be included in the application packet.
Free photographs required for the application.
Review of complete application packet by an attorney or an immigration counselor.
What to Bring to Citizenship Now! Events?
To apply for citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:
–Reside in the United States as a permanent resident for five years (three years if living with and married to the same U.S. citizen)
–Live in the United States for half of the five or three year period
–Are at least 18 years old
What to bring to a Citizenship Now! event:
- Green card and all passports since obtaining green card
- Home addresses for the last five or three years
- Children’s information (date of birth, A#, addresses)*
- Employment history for the last five or three years*
- Marital history/criminal history*
A limited number of applicants that can demonstrate financial hardship or another qualifying factor may be eligible for fee waivers.
For more information on Citizenship Now! please call 646-344-7245