Citizenship opens the door to opportunities and civic engagement
SAN JOSE, Calif.– A collaboration of community groups, immigration rights advocates, and the City of San José are joining forces to make sure local immigrants have the resources they need to become U.S. citizens. The collaborative estimates that over 100,000 immigrants in Santa Clara County are eligible to become citizens, but have not yet applied.
The collaborative is hosting a citizenship workshop at San José Convention Center on Saturday, September 23, with sessions at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. The San José Convention Center is located at 150 W. San Carlos Street in San José. For information about the documents you will need to bring and to register for the workshop, visit www.e-immigrate.us or call 408-228-4478. Priority will be given to those who register.
Free immigration services will be provided in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese by immigration lawyers and certified immigration specialists, who will help to determine if you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen. They will also assist you in filling out your application. If you are eligible to apply for citizenship, you will be able to mail in your application by the time you leave the workshop. The process can take two to three hours to complete. The application fee is $725, but you may qualify for a full or partial fee waiver.
“Citizenship opens the doors to economic opportunity and civic engagement,” said Zulma Maciel, Director Office of Immigrant Affairs. “We want to make sure local immigrants have the tools they need to become citizens so they can fully participate in the community. You can trust that the legal advice you get at the workshop is provided by legitimate immigration attorneys and specialists who know the law. We are expecting more than 400 people to attend this workshop.”
“Whatever the promise of citizenship looks like to you – the right to vote, complete freedom to travel abroad or the opportunity to secure a permanent place for your family in America – we can help you make it a reality, just like we’ve done for thousands of your neighbors throughout Silicon Valley”, continued Maciel.
There are a number of benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen. Citizenship gives you the ability to vote in local, state, and national elections so you can make your voice count. You will no longer have to live with the fear of being deported and having your family torn apart. Citizenship helps bring families together. When you are a citizen, you can start the legal process of having family members join you here in the U.S. Becoming a citizen opens the opportunity for higher wages or new career choices. Finally, citizenship gives you freedom. You can get a passport and travel without fear of losing your residency status.
To be eligible for citizenship, you need to be:
• 18 years or older
• Be a lawful permanent resident for five years (three years if married to a U.S. citizen),
• Have maintained continuous residence during the past five years (three years if married to a US citizen),
• Have maintained physical presence during the past five years (three years if married to a US citizen)
• Have good moral character, have basic knowledge of U.S. history and civics,
• Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance, and
• Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
The workshop is a collaborative effort by the Asian Law Alliance, Center for Employment Training, City of San José Public Library, International Institute of the Bay Area, International Rescue Committee, and SIREN (Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network). Financial partners include Citi Community Development, City of San José Office of Immigrant Affairs, City of San José Vice Mayor, Magdalena Carrasco, City of San José Council Member Jimenez, City of San José Council Member Nguyen, Consulate General of Mexico in San José, New Americans Campaign, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and United Methodist Church.