Citizenship Toolkit

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Toolkit for BIA Recognition & Accreditation

 

Does your nonprofit agency want to develop a legal immigration program, but lack attorneys on staff or the money to hire them?

Does your nonprofit agency want to continue providing legal immigration services, but avoid engaging in the unauthorized practice of law? 

Does your nonprofit agency have immigration attorneys on staff, but want to expand its capacity by getting authorization for non-attorney staff to practice immigration law?

In these situations, your agency needs to seek recognition for itself and accreditation for its non-attorney staff from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).  BIA recognition and accreditation is the Department of Justice’s certification of charitable immigration agencies and staff, and allows non-attorney staff to practice immigration law before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the immigration courts. 

The rules governing recognition and accreditation can be found at 8 CFR Section 292.2.

However, the regulations are brief and do not address some of the challenges in compiling the BIA recognition and accreditation application. 

This toolkit is designed to educate agencies on the need for BIA recognition and accreditation and to assist them in the application process.  It is divided into four sections:

  • Section One provides background information about the importance of BIA recognition and accreditation. 
  • Section Two takes you through the steps needed to prepare for and compile the application. 
  • Section Three provides guidelines on the professional code of conduct for BIA accredited representatives and information on how to protect your agency from liability.
  • Section Four focuses on the widespread problem of immigration fraud and provides resources for educating the immigrant community.   


CLINIC welcomes your feedback on this toolkit, including suggestions for additional materials to include.  If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Laura Burdick at lburdick@cliniclegal.org.

 

1.  GENERAL INFORMATION

EOIR Main Page on the Recognition & Accreditation Program

New “BIA Issues Three Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation” – CLINIC news article

New BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of United Farm Workers Foundation (2014)

New BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of Ayuda (2014)

Update on New BIA Regulations

CLINIC webinar, “All About BIA Recognition and Accreditation”

Board of Immigration Appeals FAQ Sheet on the Recognition and Accreditation Program

"BIA Releases New FAQ Sheet on Recognition and Accreditation" - CLINIC news article

BIA Precedent Decision, Matter of Central California Legal Services, Inc. (2013)

“BIA Addresses Training Requirements for Accredited Representatives” – CLINIC news article

"BIA Issues Two Decisions on Recognition and Accreditation" - CLINIC news article

Form G-28: Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative

 

2. PREPARATION: SETTING AN ACTION PLAN, ACQUIRING ESSENTIAL TRAINING, AND COMPILING THE APPLICATION

Step-by-Step Guide for BIA Accreditation and Recognition - World Relief and CLINIC

Form EOIR-31, Request for Recognition of a Non-Profit Religious, Charitable, Social Service, or Similar Organization

NEW Form EOIR-31A, Request by Organization for Accreditation of Non-Attorney Representative

Checklist for BIA Recognition and Accreditation Process

Action Plan for Applying for BIA Recognition and Accreditation

CLINIC Training Calendar

Self-Directed E-Learning Course on Fundamentals of Immigration Law

Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) Training Calendar

Immigration Law Library Resources

Sample Application for BIA Agency Recognition and Staff Accreditation: See page 16 of Step-by-Step Guide

Sample Application Cover Letter for BIA Staff Accreditation: See page 20 of Step-by-Step Guide

 

3. CONSIDERATIONS FOR PRACTICE AFTER BIA ACCREDITATION

EOIR Fact Sheet on Professional Conduct Rules for Immigration Attorneys and Representatives

CLINIC's Core Standards for Charitable Immigration Programs

Model Code of Professional Responsibility for BIA Accredited Representatives

Prohibition Against Providing Legal Services Outside the Office & Expectations of Employees

Applying for Renewal of Agency Staff/Volunteer Accreditation: See page 14 of Step-by-Step Guide

Immigration Advocates Network manual, "Notario Fraud Remedies: A Practice Manual for Immigration Practioners"

 

4. IMMIGRANT COMMUNITY EDUCATION MATERIALS

How to Tell if an Agency is Recognized:

EOIR List of Currently Disciplined Practitioners

Outreach Flyers:

American Bar Association (ABA) Campaign to Fight Notario Fraud

USCIS Information on Finding Legal Advice

USCIS Outreach Materials

Federal Trade Commission Resources

Resources by type: 

The Citizenship Test

Newly updated in 2015, CLINIC’s study guide for the U.S. citizenship test explains the naturalization testing requirements and contains 13 study units on U.S. history and civics with many colorful and historic photos and illustrations, as well as maps, diagrams, and timelines. It includes a glossary of vocabulary words and test review questions for each unit. There are also discussion questions for each unit, and additional, optional study questions to amplify the content. It is designed for both classroom use and for self-study.

 

 Download the Free Guide

 Read the Guide on Issuu

 

Additional Resources:

CLINIC collects translations of the 100 civics (history and government) questions for the naturalization test here.

CLINIC offers a rapid e-learning course to help train immigration legal staff and volunteers on completing the application for naturalization here.

If you are a service provider looking to establish a citizenship test preparation program, visit our Center for Immigrant Integration site or our Citizenship Toolkit for help and more resources.

Promotional Resources

CLINIC provides materials for you to use to share this guide with clients, colleagues, or friends.

Postcards

These postcards can be printed on Avery templates 5889, 8386, and 8389. Click here to download a grayscale version of the postcard. Click here to download a color version of the postcard.

Flyer

Social Media Graphics

You can use these images to share the guide on your social media platforms:

Click on the link and then right click the image to save to your computer.

 

 

 

 

Have a Question?

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Laura Burdick at lburdick@cliniclegal.org.

Issues: 

Center for Immigrant Integration

The Center for Immigrant Integration seeks to encourage the development of immigrant integration initiatives throughout its network through the creation of resources and trainings and through the dissemination of best practices currently present in CLINIC affiliate agencies. CLINIC believes that efforts to promote immigrant integration are most successful at the local level. Participation in integration initiatives is required from both the newcomer and the receiving community, as integration takes place at Catholic Charities agencies as well as in the parish halls, in parks and city office buildings, in libraries, and in neighborhood schools. The message of welcoming the stranger is never more needed than right now, as legislative debates continue around measures impacting immigrant communities; charitable legal service programs are experiencing more demand than they can serve; and demographics of cities, large and small, are changing to include the nation’s newcomers.

 

Check back often for new resources, model program highlights, and archived trainings as CLINIC works to assist its network in building welcoming communities around the nation.


“Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another‘s welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties. Emigrants bring with them a sense of trust and hope which has inspired and sustained their search for better opportunities in life.”

- Pope Benedict, Message for 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees

 

 

Listen as CLINIC’s Executive Director, Jeanne Atkinson, explains why CLINIC views immigrant integration as a priority for the CLINIC network.

 

 

For more information on how your program can promote immigrant integration, or to have an integration initiative highlighted on our website, contact Leya Speasmaker, Integration Program Manager, at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org or 301-565-4816.

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Case Management Toolkit

This toolkit is intended to facilitate the process of designing and/or improving the case management system in your immigration program.  In a legal immigration context, case management system consists of: policies and procedures; forms; a database; and files used by legal representatives in a standardized manner for the purposes of delivering professional services and avoiding errors that can result in malpractice and liability.

For an agency just starting an immigration program you may be asking a series of questions:  How will your immigration program deliver services to clients? How do you conduct intake? How do you select cases for representation? How do you collect fees? What systems does your office have in place to ensure that your staff is working effectively and efficiently, and avoiding malpractice and liability issues? How do you track deadlines and caseload priorities?

For more established immigration programs you may be asking these same questions if your office does not have standardized case management policies and procedures in place or if your office finds that the current system is not effective in delivering client services.  

Having a well-designed case management system is essential to running a responsible legal immigration program.  It helps to ensure uniformity, consistency, and high quality work produced by staff, and helps managers more easily supervise a program.  For new immigration programs, it is wise to establish a standardized case management system in the early stages of program development, even before services are provided.  For established programs it is wise to revisit and revise your current case management policies and procedures to standardize them and ensure they are working for all stakeholders: the parent organization leadership, program director, staff, clients, and funders.

This toolkit reviews the essential components of case management.   It provides various resources to help your immigration program design and implement an effective case management system.  For organizations providing Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) immigration services, there are additional considerations when designing your case management system noted throughout the toolkit. 

The toolkit is divided into three sections: Thinking About Case Management; Developing Case Management Policies and Procedures; and Immigration Case Management Tools consisting of case management database and case management forms.  We encourage you to review all sections of this toolkit for a comprehensive understanding of case management system.

  • Provides fundamental information about the case management system and its different components.

Developing Case Management Policies and Procedures

  • Discusses the importance of establishing and documenting step-by-step policies and procedures.

Immigration Case Management Tools

  • Provides information about the types of tools available.  These include case management databases (software and web-based) and forms commonly used for program management and client services

Tell CLINIC What You Think or Need

CLINIC welcomes your feedback on this toolkit, including suggestions or recommendations for additional materials you would like to see on this webpage.  If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Martin Gauto at mgauto@cliniclegal.org .

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Rapid E-Learning: Completing the Application for Naturalization Form N-400

Happy, diverse people waving American flags

CLINIC is updating this self directed e-learning course to reflect form changes by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. CLINIC anticipates the updated course will be available for use by September 30, 2016. In the meantime, you may continue to access the older version of the course

 

CLINIC has created a self directed e-learning course to help train new immigration legal staff and volunteers on completing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The 90 minute course covers: 

  • an overview of the Form N-400 and the requirements for naturalization,
  • steps to complete each part of the form and prepare the naturalization application for mailing,
  • and steps in the naturalization process, including preparing for the naturalization interview.

The course is interactive and incorporates text, images, audio, and video along with opportunities for the participant to check his or her progress in the course through quizzes and a final test. 

At the end of the course participants may complete a course evaluation. Participants who successfully complete the final test and then complete the course evaluation will receive a certificate of course completion. Note that only the person who registered for the course is eligible to receive a certificate of completion; anyone who wants a certificate must register separately for the course. There is a $25 fee for course registration, which provides the individual with 90 days of unlimited access to the course. 

Register Here

Please note, CLINIC affiliates will receive a special registration link that grants access privileges for the course. To access this registration page, Click Here 

This course was created by CLINIC with funding from the New Americans Campaign.

Issues: 

All in the (CLINIC) Family

By Tessa W. McKenzie

Our commitment to supporting newcomers is personal and at CLINIC, we are inspired by friends who have overcome numerous obstacles to become naturalized US citizens.  Saba Hailu is one such friend, who journeyed from aspiring citizen to new American.  Saba’s determination strengthens our resolve to ensure that the foreign-born have access to opportunities for citizenship and civic participation.

Saba arrived in the United States seven years ago as an asylee, fleeing political persecution in Ethiopia.  “I am free here,” Saba explains, “I have improved my life.”  Unable to find work in Ethiopia, Saba is now able to support her family, free from fear, and has built relationships in her community that make her feel at home in her new country.   Saba provides child and elderly care and those who work with her speak highly of Saba’s contributions.  Abeba Fesuh introduced fellow CLINIC staff member Laura Burdick to Saba over five years ago.

A true American in every way but legal status, Saba desired to become a citizen of the United States so she could vote, travel in and out of the country freely, and more fully contribute to her new home.  “I wanted to feel as American as I had been,” Saba explains. 

With English as her second language, however, Saba was nervous about passing the naturalization interview, and studied very hard in the months and weeks leading up to it.  When asked about her status as an Ethiopian asylee, Saba froze.  The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Officer told Saba to come back when she was able to pass the English portion of the interview.  Disheartened, Saba feared her dream of U.S. citizenship might be out of reach.

“I want to thank Laura in a special way,” Saba says, “she offered her time to prepare me for a second interview.”  Laura reviewed civics questions with Saba, asked her to write short answers, and memorize questions to expect during her next interview with USCIS.  Many of the lessons occurred in the evenings after Saba’s babysitting commitments and were spent pouring over CLINIC resources designed to enhance English and civics proficiency.   

Rattled with anxiety on the day of her second naturalization interview, Saba was comforted by the presence of CLINIC attorney, Allison Posner.  “I am so thankful for Allison,” Saba says, “she gave me courage, smiled at me, and all of my fear was relieved.”  Allison helped educate Saba about her asylum case and with renewed self-assurance, Saba passed her naturalization interview with flying colors.

With new-found confidence, Saba is thrilled to have received US citizenship and explains, “I really feel American now!”  She is excited to share CLINIC resources like Citizenship for Us that Laura gave to her in preparation for the exam.  “I have two sons that will soon become citizens,” Saba says, “and I tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid, study hard, prepare yourself.  It’s possible!”

Saba’s story is a reminder that resources are needed to ensure that vulnerable newcomers may overcome various challenges to the naturalization process. CLINIC’s new study guide for the citizenship test is a free, online resource that explains the naturalization testing requirements and contains 13 study units on U.S. history and civics.    With citizenship resources like this and the dedication of friends and advocates like Abeba, Laura, and Allison, more aspiring citizens may join Saba as proud new Americans. 

*Tessa W. McKenzie is Public Education Officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

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Cambia tu Vida, New York

Claudia Ornelas

On March 2, 2014 I had the pleasure of taking part in the Cambia tu Vida Campaign media launch in New York City and experiencing the excitement brewing as community, religious, and government leaders gathered to promote naturalization as a benchmark of integration.

The Cambia tu Vida Citizenship Campaign (“Citizenship: It Changes Your Life/Citizenship: Change Your Life”) is a national campaign to encourage lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to become citizens. To date, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) has successfully launched Cambia tu Vida in Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and now New York City.

For the campaign in New York, Catholic Migration Services (CMS), the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) partnered to encourage immigrants to reach the dream of citizenship. Immigrants have shaped New York’s fabric and contribute to the vitality and vibrant spirit that defines this city. We aim to help New York’s 684,000 legal permanent residents further integrate, contribute to their communities, and find continued stability by applying for citizenship.

Speakers and attendees at the launch included Senator Charles Schumer, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, Father Patrick Keating, City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras of Queens, Representative Grace Meng of Queens, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Kelly Marie Fay Rodriguez of AFL-CIO’s Immigration and Community Action, and Assemblyman Francisco Moya. One by one,  representatives stood at the podium, addressing the crowd about the importance of naturalization. With compassion and empathy, each spoke about immigration from personal experiences, because they had immigrant parents or grandparents, had served and worked with immigrants, or represented immigrant communities in their diverse districts.

Bishop DiMarzio, for example, spoke about his grandparents.  His grandfather became a citizen after 45 years in the United States and his grandmother resided in the country for 75 years before filling out naturalization applications. Bishop DiMarzio expressed understanding of why many LPR’s wait to apply for naturalization and emphasized the benefits of citizenship. “As a citizen, he explained, “you can vote, you can go all over the world, you are protected by the U.S. government and you have other benefits you don’t have as a permanent resident. We are here to help.”

Immigration is personal; it  impacts all of us. That message resonated throughout the Cambia tu Vida launch. In immigration there is no “us” and “them.”  As many speakers expressed: we are all in this together, we are here to help, and we are part of this community.

As City Council woman Julissa Ferraras expressed, “This is our home!” And what better way of honoring our home than by taking the opportunity that citizenship offers of further participating in our communities.

As a first generation immigrant myself, I felt empowered by the energy of the crowd and the voices of government and religious leaders.  As advocates, being a part of Cambia tu Vida brought us together to further shape New York’s legacy of immigrant-driven community engagement.

CLINIC is proud to have partnered with CMS to launch the campaign in New York, and we hope to bring the Cambia tu Vida initiative to other cities.

Catholic Migration Services will host two “mega workshops” on April 5th and April 26th designed to process thousands of naturalization applications free of charge, excluding federal fees, as part of the New Americans Campaign and Cambia Tu Vida campaign. All eligible Legal Permanent Resides are encouraged to attend.

For more information on Cambia tu Vida Citizenship Campaign visit:  http://cambiatuvida.us/

To view the Cambia tu Vida public service announcements, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/cliniclegal

*Claudia Ornelas is Communication Officer at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

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Celebrating U.S. Citizenship

Rommel Calderwood

As we celebrate our country’s birthday and independence on the Fourth of July, many of us will contemplate what it means to be Americans.  Being an American for the foreign-born goes beyond the ability to vote in elections or obtain a U.S. passport.  Many immigrants already feel American at heart long before they take their first step to becoming naturalized U.S. citizens – a pre-requisite to vote and obtain a passport.  Many of them have integrated into their communities long before – going to weekly church services, volunteering in their children’s schools, and paying their taxes. 

While many “green card” holders have called the United States home, often for decades, they nonetheless face numerous challenges that prevent them from fulfilling their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens.  Only 700,000 or just eight percent of the 8.5 million eligible lawful permanent residents (LPRs) naturalize each year.  Nearly 50 percent of LPRs who were surveyed cited the high cost of filing an Application for Naturalization, lack of English proficiency skills, and scarce information about the low-cost immigration and test preparation services available in their communities as some of the reasons for not naturalizing. 

CLINIC and its affiliate network understand the challenges that many aspiring citizens face, and as such, CLINIC has supported its network of nonprofit immigration legal services with over $7 million in flow-through funding to serve low-income LPRs across the country and help them navigate the complex naturalization process.  As one of the founding organizations of the New Americans Campaign (NAC), CLINIC works with its national network partners, foundations, local affiliates, and federal government agencies to promote the importance of U.S. citizenship and to break down the barriers that prevent many eligible LPRs from taking the crucial steps on their journey to becoming new Americans. 

CLINIC is proud to be a part of the NAC and other initiatives that have helped LPRs to realize their American dreams.  Through the NAC, CLINIC has provided nearly $2 million in flow-through funding to its affiliate partners in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.  Additionally, CLINIC supports over 100 partners, including legal-service providers, businesses, faith-based groups, community leaders, and universities across the country by providing free trainings, resources, and best practices on naturalization and citizenship.  Since the NAC’s founding in July 2011, it has helped over 100,000 LPRs across the country with their naturalization applications and has covered $85 million in legal and application fees for low-income immigrants and their families.

CLINIC applauds the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) for overwhelmingly passing Citizenship Now, a resolution that seeks to compel the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Department of Homeland Security to make policy changes that will help increase the number of eligible LPRs who naturalize.   The USCM recognizes the “melting pot” of immigrants who have enriched our nation with their diverse cultures, languages, and ideas.  CLINIC welcomes new opportunities to continue helping the many LPRs start their journey to U.S. citizenship and ensuring that they attain the same opportunities that generations of immigrants before them enjoyed that allowed them to prosper in this great nation.  As we celebrate the Fourth of July in the days ahead, let us remember the motto of the United States, E pluribus unum – "From many, one."    

*Rommel is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Campaign

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Catholic Charities of Indianapolis Expands its Welcome to New Americans

Jeff Chenoweth

The Midwest has a history as a gateway for immigrants even if not as heralded as port cities in the east and west.  Think of Chicago with its diverse ethnic population as early as the late 1800’s, especially among Eastern Europeans, that continues today with the largest Bosnian refugee population in the country.  Think also of Detroit, Motor City, at the turn of the last century when Ford Motor Company attracted immigrant workers from Southern Europe and the Middle East to build the earliest automobiles.  Detroit now has the largest Middle Eastern population in the United States, most recently welcoming tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees.

Indianapolis, albeit smaller than Chicago and Metro Detroit, is another Midwest city with a growing immigrant population.  Catholic Charities of Indianapolis is expanding the city’s welcome for many New Americans.  In recent years, Catholic Charities of Indianapolis has resettled over 500 refugees on an annual basis; people recognized by the U.S. government as requiring safety from persecution in their country of origin.  Other nonprofits in the city are welcoming more refugees, thereby increasing the number and diversity of the population.  In response to crises around the world – whether in Burma, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, or Democratic Republic of Congo - Indianapolis is giving a safe haven and a fresh start to some of the world’s most vulnerable persons.  Indianapolis also has a growing number of other immigrants, particularly Hispanics, who have arrived to join close relatives and work in jobs not easily filled.

While the city prospers with additional young workers paying taxes and refurbishing older homes, there is an accompanying need for affordable immigration legal representation.  This is particularly true for low-income wage earners who too easily fall prey to the wrong type of help by unauthorized practitioners or see highly priced, private attorneys as their only option.

Catholic Charities developed an agency-wide strategic plan that recognized this need.  In 2011, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) invited Catholic Charities’ leadership to a one-day seminar on how to start and sustain a charitable-based immigration legal program that would augment its existing and highly successful refugee resettlement program.  Catholic Charities embraced the idea, began to follow CLINIC’s “road map” to build a program and joined CLINIC’s network, becoming one of its 250 affiliates in 46 states and over 330 cities, the largest network of its kind in the country.

CLINIC was able to facilitate Catholic Charities’ program development by raising funds for capacity building from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship.  These funds for naturalization legal services and citizenship preparation classes were aimed at increasing the number of naturalized citizens in underserved communities.  Catholic Charities successfully competed nationally for the two-year funds through CLINIC and began implementing its legal and educational services for aspiring citizens. 

“Becoming an immigration legal representative at a Catholic nonprofit is one of the biggest surprises of my life,” says Tim Winn, Immigration Program Supervisor at Catholic Charities of Indianapolis.  Tim’s academic background prior to joining Catholic Charities was a degree in religious studies and art.  Refugee resettlement seemed like a worthwhile and intriguing job for someone looking to serve others.  “Working for several years with refugees and seeing their many talents but also needs, including legal services to reunite their families and become engaged citizens, inspired me to learn U.S. immigration law and how to be a competent and ethical legal representative.  I love what I do.”   Although Tim doesn’t have a law degree, he is an accredited representative who is authorized to practice immigration law and represent immigrants in administrative proceedings by the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

Tim and his colleague, Flor Bickel – a native Spanish speaker who is also a BIA accredited representative – each successfully completed more than 40 hours of CLINIC immigration law and management training.  They were assisted by the talents of two attorneys from Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (NCLC) who offered legal supervision and direct services.  In addition, “Having Mike McCarthy as our Volunteer Coordinator has definitely increased our visibility and capacity to serve more people.  Our naturalization workshops joining would-be citizens with trained volunteers to complete Applications for Naturalization have been a big success,” says Tim.  The focus of their efforts is those seeking to become U.S. citizens and reunite with families. This continues to be the backbone of the program’s scope of services, aided by strong community partnerships with NCLC, two Burmese refugee community centers, Catholic parishes, libraries, Indiana University Maurer School of Law and volunteers. 

As Catholic Charities’ expertise and affordable services became more widely known, Flor became full-time, Tim became the Immigration Legal Program Supervisor following completion of his Master’s in Business Administration degree, and Christine Sego Caldwell was hired in 2014 as the program’s first attorney.  A second attorney is expected to be hired in the year.

Increased staff time, broader management and legal knowledge, and new services are capacity building benchmarks for a charitable immigration legal program.  As Tim states, “Legal support is very helpful to me because I run into complicated issues.  CLINIC’s training and technical support quickly help us solve problems and implement proven best practices used by more experienced charitable programs around the country.  With CLINIC’s experts and rich material I feel like I’m on the inside of my profession. I can see how my management of our limited financial resources and staff time have improved and made a positive and long-lasting difference in the lives of our immigrant clients.”

Tim, Flor, Mike and Christine plan to be busy this year helping more young people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – those who qualify for work authorization and relief from deportation because they were brought to the U.S. as minors in the care of their undocumented parents.  Renewal for the two-year status is up for the first time this year and new applicants are welcome to apply, including those who are aging into eligibility.  More students are attending citizenship classes at Level I and graduating into Level II as they ready themselves to take the citizenship test and Oath of Allegiance.  Refugees continue to be served with petitions to USCIS to reunify husbands, wives, and minor children separated by war, genocide, and political upheavals.  Also on the staff’s “to do” list is to prepare for comprehensive immigration reform when Congresses passes a bill that will hopefully make immigration in the U.S. more relevant to the nation’s labor force needs, humanize and add fairness to the system, and grant legal status to an estimated 40,000 undocumented immigrants living in Indianapolis and surrounding cities.

CLINIC is proud of what Catholic Charities of Indianapolis has done in a few, short years.  Positive capacity building outcomes like this one give CLINIC confidence to assist more nonprofits, Catholic and others, to build charitable immigration legal services. 

*Mr. Chenoweth is the Director of CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities

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A Radical Experience: Archdiocese of New York Creates a “One-Stop-Shop” for Immigrant Integration

Since its inception two hundred years ago, the story of the Archdiocese of New York is an immigrant story – a tradition which continues today. For more than 30 years, the Archdiocese of New York has provided services to the foreign-born, including refugee resettlement and immigration legal services, through Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS). As the immigrant and refugee population in the area has grown and changed, so has CCCS.

In the mid-2000s, CCCS added four new service locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Westchester County and opened a dozen outreach sites in the lower Hudson Valley to serve seven counties north of New York City.

They also added new services in these locations. With funding from the state, they established the New Americans Hotline to provide general immigration legal information and referrals. In addition, counselors and lawyers with CCCS began working together to help unaccompanied children in regional facilities through “Know Your Rights presentations,” individual legal consultations, and friend of the court appearances for the children’s deportation proceedings.

In 2012, the Archdiocese of New York responded to an ongoing need for greater immigrant integration. CCCS acquired the International Center, a separately incorporated nonprofit agency with a long history of providing educational services to the foreign-born, and folded it into its existing array of services. The Center uses its network of 150 volunteers to offer 40 English, counseling, and acculturation classes to 1,000 students on a monthly basis. The addition of the Center helps CCCS provide more holistic services to the refugees and immigrants they serve. For example, immigrants hoping to qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status can easily access the Center for enrollment in English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction, which in turn helps them qualify for DACA and promotes their self sufficiency.

Because of the addition of the Center and growth in services, CCCS’ leadership, particularly Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, decided to consolidate five departments serving the foreign-born into a central location and a unified program called Immigrant and Refugee Services.  This program has 58 staff with legal, advocacy, instructional, and case management skills.  

The new location provides a large waiting area, critical to meet the demand for services. On Thursdays, CCCS holds walk-in intake where an average of 80 new clients appear for an opportunity to receive legal consultations and resettlement assistance.  In addition, the new space is large enough for separate classrooms,  a networking area for immigrants, and a large conference space.  Staff and clients have expressed exclusively positive feedback and excitement about the new program and location, with its one-stop-shop experience and more dynamic, holistic resources.

The new structure will undoubtedly better position the Archdiocese of New York to plan and respond to immigration reform when a new law is eventually passed by Congress.

In a recent interview, Mario Russell (pictured here), Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, said, “This is a radically new experience for us.  CCCS has always done this work but never has it been delivered in this consolidated manner. Now we can offer all of our services, from outreach, intake, program enrollment, and receipt of immigration benefits, all in one place. People who come for help here have wide and varied needs.  It is our mission to do our best to meet them and this unified approach is a strong step in this direction.”

CLINIC congratulates the Archdiocese of New York and CCCS for its bold move.  Imagine the impact the Archdiocese of New York and CCCS will have in the next 30 years!

 

*Mr. Chenoweth is the Director of CLINIC's Center for Citizenship and Immigrant Communities

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Celebrating Citizenship

Rommel Calderwood

Each year on September 17, we come together as a nation of immigrants to celebrate Citizenship Day. This is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of being a U.S. citizen and recognize the many lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in our communities who are on their journey to becoming U.S. citizens.

Since the founding of our nation, the United States has inspired people of every heritage and faith to travel to our shores.  One thing these immigrants have shared is a hope for freedom and a more prosperous future. These values are inscribed in the Constitution, signed on September 17, 1787.

The path to U.S. citizenship, however, is not always smooth.  For many LPRs, the journey to successful naturalization is often harrowing and riddled with twists and turns that are confusing to navigate.  Not only do LPRs face the high costs associated with securing legal assistance and filing a Form N-400 Application for Naturalization, but they also confront perplexing legal questions that might result in a deportation order.  Not surprisingly, only a fraction - 700,000 or just eight percent - of the 8.5 million eligible LPRs naturalize each year. 

CLINIC advocates for policies to help vulnerable LPRs overcome these hurdles.  CLINIC has addressed issues to USCIS concerning the new Form N-400 and the N-648 medical certification for disability exceptions.  CLINIC has also supported its affiliates with over $7 million in flow-through funding to provide citizenship services to LPRs around the country.  As one of the founding organizations of the New Americans Campaign (NAC), CLINIC has provided nearly $2 million in flow-through funding to its affiliates in Charlotte, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami, alone.  Through these efforts, CLINIC and its partners have helped over 100,000 LPRs with their naturalization applications and covered $85 million in legal and application fees for low-income immigrants and their families. 

CLINIC and its network are dedicated to ensuring that LPRs will reach the final step in their journey to U.S. citizenship.  For more information on the New Americans Campaign and the ways the CLINIC network is joining together celebrate citizenship year round, visit:  https://cliniclegal.org/new-americans-citizenship-campaign

*Rommel Calderwood is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Campaign

Photo from the Department of Labor
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Fourteen CLINIC Affiliates Receive USCIS Funding for Citizenship Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Maura Moser, Director of Communications

(301) 565-4830 or Email: mmoser@cliniclegal.org

Silver Spring, MD (September 19, 2014) - The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) congratulates 14 affiliates that received funding through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Fiscal Year 2014 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program.  Twenty-five percent of the 40 primary grantees are CLINIC affiliates.   

USCIS announced the awards, totaling nearly $10 million, yesterday.  Forty organizations in 24 states and the District of Columbia received funding.  These highly competitive, two-year grants will support citizenship classes and naturalization application assistance for 22,000 permanent residents.  This is the sixth year that USCIS has provided funding for citizenship assistance.

Ten CLINIC affiliates received a grant from USCIS:  

  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, CA;
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton, CA;
  • Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas;
  • Catholic Charities of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, CA;
  • Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, CA;
  • Catholic Migration Services, Inc. of Brooklyn, NY;
  • City of Littleton, CO;
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (Portland);
  • Hartford Public Library (CT); and
  • Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc. (Hollywood).

In addition, four CLINIC affiliates received USCIS funding through partnerships with primary grantees:

  • Catholic Charities of Cleveland, OH;
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, WI;
  • Catholic Charities of Central Florida (Orlando); and
  • Catholic Charities of Tennessee (Nashville). 

CLINIC is committed to providing technical assistance to expand citizenship services for lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and will continue working with network grantees to build program capacity for integration services.

Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., explains, “USCIS’s Citizenship and Integration Grant Program provides critical financial support for our affiliates providing legal and social integration services.  Immigrant integration is vital to building stronger families and stronger communities.” 

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The nation’s largest network of nonprofit immigration programs, CLINIC supports more than 260 affiliates located in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For more information on CLINIC’s efforts to promote the delivery of high-quality services to immigrants, visit www.cliniclegal.org.

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An Immigrant Gateway Continues to Welcome and Inspire: Catholic Charities of Syracuse, New York

Laura Burdick

Syracuse, New York has a long history as an immigrant gateway city, and was home to many immigrants from Italy, Germany, Ireland, Ukraine, and Russia who arrived in the U.S. at the turn of the 19th century.  More recently, Syracuse, through Catholic Charities and another local resettlement agency, has welcomed thousands of refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Burundi, and many other countries.  About 550 refugees were resettled in Syracuse last year by Catholic Charities alone.  Today, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (Syracuse) houses its refugee resettlement and immigration program in a center that once served Italian and German youth.

While Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement services have existed for many years, the immigration legal program is new, and has grown remarkably over the last three years since it was established.  The program now has Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) recognition, several partially accredited BIA representatives, and a robust, state-funded citizenship initiative offering both legal and educational services.  BIA recognition and accreditation, the Department of Justice’s certification of nonprofit, legal immigration service agencies and staff, is critical for immigration legal programs.

Recognizing an unmet need for charitable legal immigration services in Syracuse, Catholic Charities applied to CLINIC in 2011 for capacity building funds, and was selected to receive a two-year grant.  With this grant, the agency proposed to start a citizenship legal program and a citizenship education program.  CLINIC administered the grant with flow-through funding from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office of Citizenship and provided training and technical assistance.

Catholic Charities planned to house the immigration program within the agency’s refugee resettlement program and share some of the staff. The agency needed to apply for BIA recognition. Four staff members, including the program director, were designated to obtain BIA accreditation and began taking the required trainings. 

Catholic Charities already had a good relationship with the Syracuse School District, and planned to recruit students through the schools. Citizenship classes began in January 2012. The agency hired an experienced instructor to conduct the citizenship classes at its office, which is conveniently located in a neighborhood close to where the students live. The agency recruited volunteer tutors to assist with the classes.

At the conclusion of the grant in September 2013, Catholic Charities had well-developed citizenship education and legal services, and had served over 200 clients from 20 countries.  Catholic Charities was able to sustain and grow the legal services through a 2012 grant from the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) that runs until 2015.  The grant funded Catholic Charities, in partnership with several other local service providers, to create and house a “New Americans Opportunity Center” that provides wrap-around services for immigrant integration. Catholic Charities also received a state grant in September 2012 to provide legal services to Cubans and Haitians.

Today, the legal program is staffed by six BIA accredited representatives, including the program director. Their accreditation greatly improves the agency’s capacity to serve immigration clients who speak these languages.  Staff focuses on assisting clients with citizenship, green cards, and family reunification applications.  Catholic Charities anticipates filing over 200 citizenship applications this year and a similar number of green card applications.  The agency has also made inroads with the immigrant population and is serving increasing numbers of Latino immigrants as word spreads about the immigration services.

The citizenship education program currently offers ongoing citizenship classes five days a week at the Catholic Charities office.  Level 1 and Level 2 classes are offered.  The classes have been taught by the same, experienced instructor since they began, and the instructor obtained BIA accreditation in February 2014. The program utilizes volunteers to provide support services such as child care and tutoring for students who need extra help.

When asked why she comes to work each day, Program Director, Felicia Castricone replies:  “I really admire the refugees for their resilience and strength.”

CLINIC is inspired by the efforts of Catholic Charities’ immigration program and looks forward to its continued growth!

 

*Laura Burdick is a Field Support Coordinator and manages CLINIC’s National Capacity Building Project

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The New Americans Campaign

In 2011, CLINIC and seven national organizations received a multi-year and multi-state grant to increase the number of eligible Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) to become U.S. citizens by assisting them with the naturalization process through the development of innovative approaches and technologies and exchanging best practices. 

Through the New Americans Campaign, CLINIC provides funding and technical assistance to seven local affiliate agencies to expand and strengthen their existing services in Brooklyn (NY), Charlotte (NC), Southeast Michigan, North Texas, Houston (TX), Los Angeles (CA), and Miami (FL). These local affiliates receive access to CLINIC’s expertise in naturalization and immigration law, including the immigration and information support line, reduced registration fees for trainings and the Annual Convening, free access to live and recorded webinars, and advocacy support.

To achieve the goal of motivating eligible LPRs to become U.S. citizens and assisting them with the process, each national partner will contribute its organizational strengths to build an integrated program that incorporates:  advocacy; capacity building and training; collaboration among partner organizations, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders; media and communications; direct naturalization services; research; and innovative approaches and technology.

To learn more about NAC’s groundbreaking work to naturalize LPRs around the country, please read “The New Americans Campaign: Helping Immigrants Become U.S. Citizens,” by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. 

Our Local Partners

Catholic Migration Services of Brooklyn, NY

Catholic Migration Services (CMS) was founded in 1971 as the first Diocesan agency in the U.S. to serve the needs of vulnerable immigrants in Brooklyn and Queens.  CMS staff provides clients with a broad range of immigration legal services that include adjustment of legal status, attainment of U.S. citizenship, representation of asylum seekers, and family reunification assistance.  Linea Laboral, a toll free bilingual workers' rights hotline, is operated by CMS in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate General in New York, the U.S. Department of Labor and the New York State Department of Labor.  Clients come from at least 167 countries and CMS’ multilingual staff provides their services in Albanian, English, French, Haitian Creole, Italian, Spanish, and Greek.  

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, Inc.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charlotte (CCDOC) serves 16 counties in Western North Carolina through its main office in Asheville.  CCDOC has an accredited Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Immigration Program that provides high-quality services to over 1,000 low-income immigrants each year.  In 2010, CCDOC assisted with 1,125 immigration cases, including consular processing, family-based petitions, and obtaining lawful permanent residency.  Notably, CCDOC is the site leader for the local Charlotte collaborative.

Centro Multicultural La Familia (Multicultural Family Center)

Centro Multicultural La Familia (CMLF) is a private nonprofit mission-drive organization located in Pontiac, Michigan that offers culturally and linguistically competent services in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, Early Head Start, Great Parents, Integrated Care or Medical Home in partnership with St. Joseph hospital, support and interpretation for pregnant women through its Centro de la Mujer program, and employment support services.  CMLF recently joined the New Americans Campaign in 2013 and is a full member of the Detroit collaborative.

Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc.

Catholic Charities has a fully accredited BIA Immigration and Legal Services (ILS) program that was established in 1975 to assist the growing immigrant population of North Texas.  ILS attorneys and accredited staff provide services to clients that include family visa petitions, adjustment of status applications, naturalization services, and deportation representation.  Recently, Catholic Charities was awarded a USCIS Citizenship and Integration grant to provide both educational services and direct legal services to citizenship applicants.  Catholic Charities is also the site leader for the local Dallas collaborative, and received a national grant from USCIS to extend direct citizenship services to LPRs living in the Dallas area.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth, Inc.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth (CCFW) provides legal assistance to individuals who are eligible to apply for immigration benefits.  The agency’s focus is the reunification of families through immigration by offering services that include personal consultation, application assistance, and legal representation for our clients in matters of petition for alien relatives, adjustment of status, consular processes, naturalization, work permits, visa renewal, and other related areas of family-based immigration.  CCFW helps qualified individuals apply for naturalization and certificates of citizenship.  CCFW recently joined the New Americans Campaign in 2013.  While the agency is located in Fort Worth, CCFW is a full partner in the Dallas collaborative.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

The St. Frances Cabrini Center for Immigrant Legal Assistance (“Cabrini Center”) became a program of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in 1986.  In 2010, Cabrini Center assisted with filing over 1,000 applications for lawful permanent residents seek naturalization.  Cabrini Center is dedicated to providing high quality, low-cost and pro bono legal services to immigrants and refugees who would otherwise not be able to obtain legal representation.  Its activities include outreach, legal assessment and counseling, citizenship application assistance, legal representation and advocacy.  Cabrini Center is the largest non-profit immigration legal service provider in Houston accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals to represent individuals in immigration legal matters.  Free citizenship workshops are offered each month and staff provides citizenship application assistance

Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Inc.
Since World War II, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles has served newly-arrived immigrants and refugees by assisting them in learning English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) and understanding American social norms, training them for jobs, and helping them to legalize their residency and obtain U.S. citizenship through naturalization.  Catholic Charities has a diverse clientele that have emigrated from Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, and Ethiopia.  A recipient of the California Community Foundation grant, Catholic Charities will expand its naturalization services and open immigration services offices in the underserved areas of South Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. 

Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami, Inc.

Catholic Legal Services (CCLS) serves a diverse population in the Miami-Dade County that encompasses Downtown Miami, Coral Gables, and Aventura.  Staff members from CLS conduct presentations on naturalization and citizenship at three adult education centers throughout Miami and target immigrants from Haiti, Central America, Venezuela, and Cuba.  CCLS has also joined efforts with the Archdiocese’s Cambia tu Vida initiative by reaching out to local public and private educational institutions, churches, local businesses, and other entities, to offer immigration legal services, completion and submission of USCIS forms, and citizenship classes to eligible lawful permanent residents seeking naturalization.  Notably, CCLS is the site leader for the local Miami collaborative.

Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic

The Carlos A. Costa Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at Florida International University College of Law is a one-semester clinic that intervenes on behalf of vulnerable immigrants of all nationalities in a variety of settings.  Student attorneys represent refugees seeking asylum in the United States as a result of political persecution in their countries of origin; Cuban and Haitian nationals seeking relief under country-specific immigration legislation; immigrant workers who have been victims of wage theft; and other vulnerable populations, such as abused spouses and children, unaccompanied minors, and aliens subject to immigration detention.  Most recently, the Clinic has worked with the New Americans Campaign to provide legal assistance for individuals in south Florida seeking to become U.S. citizens.  The Clinic provides assistance through weekend clinics and individual appointments during the week with student attorneys.  Located in Miami, the Clinic is a member of the Miami collaborative.

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) is a statewide immigrant rights organization that advocates for the fair treatment of everyone, and is composed of 30 member organizations and over 100 allies, who are grassroots and community organizations, farm workers, youth, advocates, legal service providers, unions and others.  FLIC’s mission is to amplify the power of immigrant communities to impact the root causes of inequality, defending and protecting basic human rights, including the right to live without fear.

FLIC’s citizenship program, Florida New Americans, aims to provide full integration for Florida's largest immigrant communities, advance immigrant rights, and promote active citizenship among New Americans.  As a part of this program, FLIC has already provided free assistance for more than 1000 legal permanent residents to apply for naturalization. FLIC also assists with Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals as well as various immigration benefits through their membership.  Located in Miami, FLIC is a member of the Miami collaborative.  

CLINIC Project Resources

La Ciudadanía: Cambia Tu Vida -  In 2012, CLINIC launched its first professional multimedia campaign known as La Ciudadanía: Cambia Tu Vida (Citizenship: It Changes Your Life).  The initiative, in partnership with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, strives to motivate the 1.2 million legal permanent residents in Los Angeles to become U.S. citizens through an eclectic package of television, radio, and print public service announcements.  CLINIC also launched the campaign in Spanish and Haitian-Creole in Miami, Florida in April 2013 in partnership with the Archdiocese of Miami, and plans to bring Cambia tu Vida to other New Americans Campaign cities. 

New Americans Campaign - The New Americans Campaign is a groundbreaking national network of legal-service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations and community leaders that is paving a better road to citizenship.  The NAC is modernizing and streamlining access to naturalization services, so that greater numbers of legally qualified permanent residents take the critical step to becoming American citizens.  The NAC is currently driving a national, nonpartisan citizenship campaign throughout the country, focused on eight major cities with large numbers of citizenship-eligible residents.  The NAC’s national partners include: Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC); Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC); Immigration Advocates Network (IAN); International Rescue Committee (IRC); National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund; National Immigration Forum; National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and Pro Bono Net.

Volunteers Helping Immigrants Become U.S. Citizens: The Naturalization Group Application Workshop - This free course educates people about basic naturalization law and the naturalization group application workshop model.  The course takes approximately 40 minutes to an hour to complete. 

How to Plan and Implement a Mega-Workshop - This webinar educates charitable immigration legal staff on the unique differences of planning and implementing a large, "mega" group application workshop for naturalization and deferred action.

Workbook for Planning a Mega Workshop – This curriculum was created by CLINIC staff for the first hands on “mega” group application workshop hosted by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles at the Mid-Valley Regional Branch Library in North Hills, California.

Citizenship for Us: A Handbook on Naturalization & Citizenship 6th Edition - Citizenship for Us is a comprehensive guide to the naturalization process that provides detailed information on citizenship eligibility, requirements, and benefits and a step-by-step explanation of the N-400 (Application for Naturalization).  The guide includes 13 study units on U.S. history and civics, historic photos, timelines, a sample naturalization interview, and a chapter on civic participation.  It is geared for immigrants, community leaders, ESL teachers, and other non-attorneys.

Citizenship and Civic Participation Toolkit - This toolkit contains a number of resources on citizenship and civic participation.

Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops - This toolkit is designed to help charitable immigration programs achieve a successful workshop. The forms and sample documents can be used as is or adapted by local programs for their own needs.

Managing an Immigration Program: Steps for Creating and Increasing Legal Capacity - This manual describes best practices used by many of the country's most experienced nonprofit immigration programs and managers.

Group Application Workshop Model - This webinar aims to promote the effective use of the group application workshop model to expand the availability of charitable legal immigration services, principally for naturalization but also for other purposes, including legalization application processing.

"Mega" Group Application Workshop - This webinar educates charitable immigration legal staff on the unique differences of planning and implementing a large, "mega" group application workshop serving 250 or more people for naturalization, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and future comprehensive immigration reform.

USCIS Guide to Naturalization - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created this Guide to provide better and more consistent information to people interested in naturalization.

USCIS Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Initiative - USCIS strives to promote awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of obtaining U.S. citizenship, and the free naturalization preparation resources available to LPRs and immigrant-serving organization

The New Americans Campaign

We are proud to be part of The New Americans Campaign, an unprecedented national effort that is paving a better path to citizenship and helping legal residents achieve their dream of becoming American citizens.  We are a nonpartisan network of community leaders and foundations, launching a campaign to modernize the system of naturalization assistance and to help more legal permanent immigrants become U.S. citizens.

Because when new Americans gain the rights, freedoms and responsibilities of citizenship, they also contribute more fully to the vitality of our communities and our democracy as a whole. 

“The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) is proud to be a part of The New Americans Campaign,” said Donald Kerwin, CLINIC’s Acting Executive Director. “Our network of more than 200 community-based legal service providers is strongly committed to expanding high-quality citizenship services. This unique partnership will significantly strengthen the capacity of charitable immigration agencies throughout the nation and will enable hundreds of thousands of lawful permanent residents to take the next step towards full and active membership in our nation.”

Have a Question?

If you have any feedback or questions, please contact Rommel Calderwood at rcalderwood@cliniclegal.org

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New Form N-400 Released by USCIS

By Laura Burdick

 

On February 4, 2014, USCIS released its long-awaited revision of the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization).  A draft of the new form was published in the Federal Register for comment on December 20, 2012 and again on March 20, 2013.  CLINIC submitted comments on the draft together with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on February 15, 2013.  The comments are posted on the CLINIC website at https://cliniclegal.org/resources/revisions-to-application-for-naturalization.   

At 21 pages, the new form is significantly longer than the old form, which is only 10 pages long.  The additional length is due in large part to a new bar code that appears at the bottom of each page, more space for residences and children, and approximately 40 additional questions in Part 11 relating to the following: good moral character; military service; group membership; and past involvement with terrorism, persecution, torture, or genocide.  USCIS states that while the eligibility requirements for naturalization have not changed, the additional questions relating to terrorism, persecution, torture, or genocide are necessitated by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.  The new form also includes additional questions about the applicant’s parents, current spouse, and prior spouse(s), and requires a statement concerning the failure to register for the Selective Service prior to age 26.  In addition, the preparer’s statement has been revised and there is a new interpreter’s statement that the applicant and interpreter must sign, if applicable.

On the positive side, there are several changes that will make the form more user-friendly.  The new form has better instructions for completing the sections on employment/education history and children, and there is a new question relating to the age/residency exemptions on the English language test.  Also, the prior question asking applicants to list all trips outside the U.S. of 24 hours or more since becoming a lawful permanent resident has been changed to request only those trips taken during the last five years.

The longer form has implications for applicants, legal service providers, and USCIS adjudicators.  Potential applicants may be intimidated by the new form and may find it less accessible, resulting in more people needing application assistance.  Legal service providers may need more time to complete and review the form, and thus may need to raise their fee for the N-400 or find ways to increase their efficiency in order to continue serving the same number of naturalization clients.  The additional security-related questions make it more important than ever that representatives obtain a copy of the applicant's A-file in certain cases before completing the N-400. USCIS adjudicators may need more time to review the form and conduct naturalization interviews, and this could increase N-400 processing times.

We encourage legal service providers to use a professional, written translation of the questions in Part 11 of the new form, due to complexity of the vocabulary in this section.  Translations in languages commonly spoken by asylees and refugees are especially needed.  CLINIC will collect and share translations of Part 11 on its website to help avoid duplication of effort.  We have also asked USCIS to consider providing the translations.

For group workshops, more time will be needed to complete and review the new form.  The interpreter certification could pose a problem, especially if an interpreter was used only for a few questions, and did not translate every question on the form.  Interpreters may be intimidated or unwilling to sign the certification.  Professional, written translations of Part 11 will be useful for literate applicants, while an interpreter could read the translation for those who are not literate.

The old form will continue to be accepted for 90 days, through May 2, 2014, but it is no longer available on the USCIS website.  CLINIC has posted the old form on its website in the Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops (https://cliniclegal.org/resources/toolkits/toolkit-naturalization-workshops) located under “resources.”  We encourage affiliates to continue using the old form for as long as possible, while obtaining training on the new form.  A USCIS teleconference on the new form will be held on February 20, 2014; CLINIC and the ILRC are conducting a joint webinar on the new form on February 26, 2014.  In addition, there are some educational materials on the new form posted on the N-400 page of the USCIS website.

The new form presents an opportunity for affiliates to encourage lawful permanent residents to apply for citizenship now, while the old form is still accepted, and to conduct group application workshops to facilitate the process for as many people as possible.  CLINIC’s Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops (https://cliniclegal.org/resources/toolkits/toolkit-naturalization-workshops) was recently updated and provides a variety of useful resources for planning and implementing a group workshop.

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CLINIC Builds Capacity for Citizenship Services

By Laura Burdick

CLINIC has unparalleled success in creating charitable immigration legal programs.  These programs help meet the current need for services in their communities, and will help meet the much greater, anticipated need in the future when comprehensive immigration reform passes. 

One example of CLINIC’s work in this area is its national capacity building project funded by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office of Citizenship.  The goal of this two-year project concluded in December 2013, was to build the long-term capacity of local affiliate agencies to provide high quality, comprehensive citizenship preparation services to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Through this project, CLINIC provided technical assistance and funding to four local affiliate agencies to establish new programs in English as a Second Language (ESL)/citizenship education and/or naturalization application assistance.  The four local agencies were Catholic Charities of Indianapolis, Ind; Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Calif.; Catholic Services of Syracuse, N.Y.; and Catholic Charities of Worcester, Mass.

CLINIC conducted a formal program evaluation, analyzing the effectiveness of the capacity building and technical assistance activities and the gains achieved by the local affiliate agencies. The evaluation noted that all four of CLINIC’s local affiliate agencies are now authorized to provide immigration legal services and all are staffed by Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives. Through this project, CLINIC helped 12 staff at three agencies obtain accreditation (three applications are still pending but are expected to be approved shortly).  All four programs now have well-developed, sustainable citizenship education and legal programs that meet the benchmarks identified by CLINIC for quality and professionalism.

Many of the clients served by this project were refugees or immigrants who have special challenges in the naturalization process such as low income or low levels of literacy and formal education. To date, CLINIC’s local affiliate agencies provided citizenship education services to 952 students (86% of their collective goal of 1,110 students) and prepared and submitted 1,288 citizenship applications (125% of their collective goal of 1,030 applications).  Furthermore, 873lawful permanent residents (LPRs) successfully naturalized under this project, and the overall pass rate across all four sites on the citizenship test was 94%. Collectively, the project served LPRs from more than 50 countries, with the highest numbers from Mexico, Burma, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Liberia.

CLINIC greatly appreciates the Office of Citizenship’s generous support for this project.  We hope to have more opportunities in the future to do naturalization capacity building work and to apply the promising practices and lessons learned in this project.

For more outcomes from the Citizenship and Integration National Capacity Building Project and resources for enhanced program management, visit:  https://cliniclegal.org/about-us/programs/center-citizenship-and-immigrant-communities/citizenship-and-integration-national

*Laura Burdick is a Field Support Coordinator and manages CLINIC’s National Capacity Building Project

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Electing to Naturalize: The Importance of Planning Ahead

By Megan Sahar Turngren

On Election Day, it can seem like a burden to wake up early and stand in line at your local polling place, but the ability to vote is a prized benefit of citizenship and an important step in the journey to full integration in the United States.  The benefits of citizenship are numerous and the CLINIC network has long advocated naturalization for all eligible permanent residents.

Particularly, in CLINIC’s Religious Immigration Section (RIS), we echo this sentiment and strongly encourage religious workers to pursue naturalization. While you may be aware of the many resources to help immigrants learn U.S. history, understand government structure, and become proficient in English, you may be less familiar with information regarding your status and more complex aspects of the naturalization process. 

Before someone can pursue naturalization, they must be a permanent resident for five years. In RIS, many of our clients contact us to begin the naturalization process as soon as they reach the five-year mark. However, the five-year mark is just one of the requirements that must be met to become a citizen.

One of the most important—and yet often overlooked—requirements is called “continuous presence.” Applicants must have resided continuously in the United States for at least five years after receiving permanent resident status.   ”Continuous residence” is problematic for many of our clients who often travel abroad for extended periods for missionary work. If applicants spend too much time abroad during a trip, they may not meet the qualifications for continuous presence.  Fortunately, the use of a reentry permit to reenter the U.S. after an extended period outside of the United States does not affect the requirement for continuous presence. Permanent residents are automatically presumed to break the continuity of residence if they are absent from the U.S. for six months or more, however.

In certain circumstances, there may be the option to apply for relief from the continuous residence requirement. To qualify for this relief, individuals must have resided inside the United States for one continuous year at some point after obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status. Also, employers would need to be able to provide a detailed explanation of the reasons for the multiple extended trips abroad (in the case of priests, nuns, and religious workers, religious organizations would provide this verification).

Additionally, individuals must reside in one location for at least three months prior to the filing date of the application. For our clients, who often travel around the United States in service to the Church, advanced planning may be required to satisfy this requirement. Once the application is filed, LPRs should plan to remain inside the U.S. until the naturalization process is complete. Even with a valid reentry permit and permanent resident card, a foreign national should think twice about taking any trips abroad during this time.

Furthermore, permanent residents must also be able to show that they have physical presence for at least 30 months of the five years immediately preceding the filing of the naturalization application. Please keep in mind that the requirements for physical presence and conditional residence are similar but not the same.

The naturalization process can seem cumbersome for lawful permanent residents but understanding the requirements and legal resources available to you are important in navigating your road to citizenship and the privileges it provides.

For more on the services offered by CLINIC’s Religious Immigration Section, the naturalization process, and our network of nation-wide charitable legal service providers, explore CLINIC’s website.

*Megan Sahar Turngren is a Staff Attorney in CLINIC's Religious Immigration Section

 

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Promoting Citizenship at the Public Library

By Jack Holmgren

The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has created Citizenship Corners in all of its 70+ branches.  These are special display areas in the library packed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services handouts and information on the citizenship process as well as other material to help people apply.  Responding to the success of this initiative, LAPL staff are taking a serious look at offering assistance with orientation and screening for citizenship.  After participating in a statewide conference for non-traditional immigration legal service partners in Fresno this July, LAPL staff met with Martin Gauto, Field Support Coordinator for Southern California and Jack Holmgren, California Legalization Director, to begin planning this next step.  LAPL is inspired by other libraries such as the Hartford, CT library that have received Board of Immigration Appeals Recognition and Accreditation.  CLINIC is working hard to bring new players into the immigration and naturalization service mix to supplement the substantial but inadequate resources that exist now.  Current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and naturalization demand require additional trusted actors in the community to provide services and the local library is an obvious example.

*Pictured above (left to right):  Cheryl Collins, Director, Branch Library Services, Joyce Cooper, Senior Librarian, Martin Gauto, CLINIC Field Support Coordinator, and Melissa Potter, Director of Adult Services

*Jack Holmgren is California Legalization Director at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

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Toolkit for Naturalization Workshops

Introduction

A naturalization group application workshop is a one-day community event that brings professionals and trained volunteers together to assist Lawful Permanent Residents in completing the Application for Naturalization (N-400).  The workshop is an essential tool for efficiently and effectively providing naturalization assistance to large numbers of people.  The success of the workshop model depends on careful planning, thorough training of staff and volunteers, and high quality services. The purpose of this toolkit is to help charitable immigration programs achieve a successful workshop. The forms and sample documents can be used as is or adapted by local programs for their own needs.

We welcome your feedback on this toolkit and its utility. Also, if you have any documents your agency has developed that you would like to send us for inclusion in the toolkit, or suggestions for additional materials to include, please send these to lburdick@cliniclegal.org

General Information

Planning & Organizing

Outreach

Sample Outreach Flyers Announcing Naturalization Workshops:

Volunteers

Forms to Use in the Workshop

Attachments for the N-400

Information for Applicants

·         NEW NAC Best Practices Toolkit for Using Volunteers [please add this]

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CLINIC Hits the Airwaves to Celebrate Citizenship Day

By Rommel Calderwood

 

Citizenship Day (September 17) is an opportunity to celebrate the importance of U.S. citizenship and to recognize the new Americans who once immigrated to the U.S. from all corners of the world. 

However, only about 8 percent of eligible lawful permanent residents “LPRs” or “green card holders” naturalize and become U.S. citizens each year.  Many eligible LPRs face a number of obstacles, including lack of information and scarce resources that prevent them from pursuing this American dream. 

In response, CLINIC, a founding partner organization of the New Americans Campaign, launched a national multi-media campaign, La Cuidadania: Cambia tu Vida (“Citizenship: It changes your life/Citizenship: Change your life”), that aims to encourage LPRs to begin their journey of becoming citizens.  The public service announcements have aired in Los Angeles and Miami, which urge the cities’ LPR communities to seek naturalization services from local affiliates in their dioceses.  In the fall, CLINIC will bring the campaign to Dallas-Fort Worth in partnership with the Dioceses of Dallas and Fort Worth and CLINIC’s partners in the New Americans Campaign: Catholic Charities of Dallas, Catholic Charities Fort Worth and Proyecto Inmigrante. 

CLINIC is also proud and excited to launch a Spanish-language radio campaign around the country to educate LPRs about the benefits of naturalization and to encourage them to apply for citizenship at their affiliate service provider.  In partnership with the Hispanic Communications Network, the radio campaign will air on HCN’s radio network of over 250 affiliate stations across the country.  Through these two campaigns, CLINIC anticipates reaching large numbers of LPRs in underserved regions of the country and helping them to realize their dreams of finally becoming Americans. 

Rommel Calderwood is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Campaign in CLINIC’s Capacity Building Section. 

 

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Partnership Toolkit

Partnerships are a valuable tool for any organization looking to expand or strengthen services in the community. In a well-functioning partnership, all members contribute ideas to the group, coordinate dates and events so that all can participate, and mutually benefit from the partnership. There are several ways to establish a partnership and many tools to use that can help organize and manage the operations.  This toolkit includes sample materials for managing a partnership, guidelines for working within a partnership, and tips on what to look for in a potential partner.

 

Please contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org if you have any questions or comments about this toolkit.

 

Download this Toolkit!

 

 

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Creating a Workplace ELL Program

Low English language proficiency impacts employee productivity, safety, and retention. Federal and state governments provide only a fraction of the funding needed for English language classes, and businesses have both the space and the financial means to offer this benefit to their Limited English Proficient workers. CLINIC offers the following resource to programs interested in pursuing partnerships with local employers willing to offer English language classes to their employees.  The Creating a Workplace ELL Program toolkit includes program planning documents, examples of currently operating workplace ELL programs, sample marketing materials, and other resources to assist in implementing a workplace ELL program. 

 

Also see CLINIC’s Creating a Citizenship Preparation Program for information on implementing a legal and language program in-house.

Click on the chapters below to read sections of the Creating a Workplace ELL Program or click here for the entire document.

Program Planning

I.    The Need for Workplace ELL
II.    Benefits of Workplace English Language Training
III.    Program Needs for Workplace ELL Programs
IV.    Planning for your Workplace ELL Program
V.    Sample Workplace ELL Program Model
VI.    Examples of Workplace ELL Programs

Planning for your Workplace ELL ProgramsTools and Other Materials

VII.    Tips for Approaching an Employer (RefugeeWorks)
VIII.   Tackling Employer Concerns (RefugeeWorks)
IX.      Sample Cover Letter to a Prospective Employer
X.       Workplace ELL Program Survey for Teachers
XI.      Workplace ELL Program Survey for Employers
XII.     Workplace ELL Resources (USCIS and others)
XIII.    Workplace ELL Sample Materials

Questions? Contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org.

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CLINIC & USCIS’ Office of Citizenship (OoC) Welcome New Citizens

By Leya Speasmaker

June was an important month for a small group of Washington D.C.’s residents. On June 6, 2013, at a public library in Mt. Pleasant, 20 immigrants from 11 different countries became U.S. citizens. Laura Burdick and I, along with staff from Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington, Montgomery College, and CARECEN, were present to witness the event, at the invitation of invitees of USCIS’ Office of Citizenship (OoC).

It is easy to be moved by the reverential mood of the new citizens and the excitement of their families and friends. Loved ones rushed to the front of the room to take pictures of their relatives as they took the oath of citizenship and received their certificates of citizenship. Even small children in attendance were quieted by the importance of the occasion, as a representative from the White House Office of Public Engagement gave a speech and President Obama appeared on video to welcome the new citizens. The newly naturalized at the ceremony reflected the diversity that commonly exists in immigrant communities: faces young and old, people whose native countries ranged from Afghanistan to Bolivia to China, professionals at the ends of their careers and those just starting out.

Laura and I have worked on two Office of Citizenship grants through the past three years, and we have worked alongside eight CLINIC affiliates to establish new legal and education programs. We have learned about the challenges of recruiting and retaining students, the benefits of strong community partnerships, the need to encourage students to apply for naturalization, and the struggle to keep the programs afloat when funding is hard to come by.

Our work with the OoC grant ends in September. Attending the naturalization ceremony so close to the end of the funding period reminded us both of the impact citizenship programs can have in their communities and the importance of this work for individual families. Through naturalization, families are reunified, voters are created, and civic participation is increased. As a result, communities across our nation better reflect the changing faces and the skills and values of the newest citizens among us.

*Leya Speasmaker is a Field Support Coordinator in CLINIC's Capacity Building Section

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Volunteer Management Toolkit

Many tasks in an immigration legal services program can be completed by volunteers. Using volunteers when possible frees up staff time that can be devoted to offering more services to clients. This toolkit contains helpful information on how best to use volunteers in your program, how to recruit and retain volunteers, and how to incorporate them into your program’s plan for the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Sample forms are included as well as sample volunteer job descriptions.

If you have questions regarding this toolkit, please send these to Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org

 

Overview of Volunteer Management

10 Reasons to Use Volunteers for Charitable Immigration Legal Services

10 Considerations When Working with Volunteers

Best Practices for Volunteer Management

The Case for Hiring a Volunteer Manager

 

Needs Assessment: Determining Agency Volunteer Roles

What Volunteers Can and Can’t Do in Legal Work

10 Tasks for a Volunteer in Your Legal Office

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Summer Legal Intern)

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Legal Intern)

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Naturalization Tutor)

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Civics-Based ESL and Citizenship Instructor )

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Pro Bono Attorney)

Volunteer Roles and Sample Job Description (Workshop Volunteer)

 

Recruitment, Matching and Screening 

Where to Find Volunteers

Sample Volunteer Application and Acknowledgement Form

Sample Volunteer Confidentiality Agreement

 

Training and BIA Accreditation

Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accreditation for Volunteers

Training Opportunities for Prospective BIA Applicants

 

Superivision and Motivation

Giving Feedback to Volunteers

Managing a Difficult Volunteer

Sample Evaluation of Volunteers

How to Recognize and Appreciate Volunteers

 

Tools for Effective Volunteer Management

Technology Tools for Volunteer Work

Resources for Future Exploration

 

Pro Bono Specific Resources

CLINIC Webinar Using Pro Bono to Maximize Resources

CLINIC Webinar Pro Bono Development

CLINIC Webinar Partnering with Law Schools

Sample Guidelines for Pro Bono Representation (Courtesy of Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project)

Sample Pro Bono Attorney Guidelines (Courtesy of National Immigrant Justice Center)

Sample Pro Bono Retainer Agreement (Courtesy of National Immigrant Justice Center) 

Sample Pro Bono Case Summary (Courtesy of National Immigrant Justice Center)  

Sample Pro Bono Project Newsletter (Courtesy of National Immigrant Justice Center)  

Other Pro Bono Resources

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On Saturday May 4, 2013, nearly 150 immigrants and their families from all over the world trekked to southern Los Angeles County and eagerly waited in line for their chance to take the crucial next step to becoming an American citizen.

New Americans Campaign comes together for Citizenship Drive in Los Angeles

On Saturday May 4, 2013, nearly 150 immigrants and their families from all over the world trekked to southern Los Angeles County and eagerly waited in line for their chance to take the crucial next step to becoming an American citizen. The huge Inglewood church quickly filled with the sounds of many languages, from Spanish to Vietnamese to Hindi, as volunteers and immigrant service providers smoothly filtered and ushered groups of eligible legal permanent residents through a step by step journey through the naturalization process.

Many of the attending immigrants had been eligible for citizenship for years, but were intimidated by the confusing paperwork, the long struggle to navigate the inefficient system and the expensive $680 application fee.

“I’ve had to wait for so many years to finally apply, but today all of these really helpful people made it much easier than I thought it would be,” said Mr. Mohamedali, a Sudanese immigrant who came to the U.S. to further his education and find more opportunities. “I wish more people would come see this and take this step… and it makes me want to become a volunteer after I’m done.” Mohamedali has lived in California for 24 years and confidently states, “I want to stay in this country for the rest of my life.”

The “Group Processing Workshop” was hosted by dozens of partner members of the national New Americans Campaign (NAC).  The workshop is just one example of how the New Americans Campaign is transforming the way aspiring citizens navigate the path to becoming new Americans.

The massive auditorium was turned into a series of stations, taking people through the entire process- from understanding their eligibility, to fully filling out their application with expert help from service providers and attorneys, all the way to getting their photos to attach to the application. And in the end, each applicant was given a set of informational and study materials, including interview practice sheets and a box of English and civics flashcards to enable them to pass the exams required for naturalization.

Over 100 volunteers and staff worked together to provide these comprehensive services in fifteen different languages. They reflected the diversity of the NAC collaboration as well as the diverse immigrant communities in the Los Angeles area.

"On a warm Saturday, I was humbled to see the nearly 150 immigrants, who waited many years, take the first step on the path to citizenship by attending the New Americans Campaign mega naturalization workshop held at Faithful Central Bible Church in Los Angeles," Rommel Calderwood, CLINIC's Project Coordinator for the New Americans Campaign said.  "The workshop provided a platform for these men, women and their families, who were assisted by over 100 naturalization experts from around the country, to achieve this important milestone in their life and become integral members of American society."

The partner groups came to LA from all over the country for the annual New Americans Campaign conference, an impressive gathering of the nation’s leading immigration and citizenship experts and organizations. Together we work to transform the way aspiring citizens navigate the path to becoming new Americans, by improving the system of naturalization assistance. Read more about this groundbreaking national network atwww.newamericanscampaign.org.

Eric Cohen is executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which leads the New Americans Campaign, a bi-partisan national network of legal-service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations and community leaders working to modernize and streamline access to naturalization services. 

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Citizenship: It Changes Your Life

By Rommel Calderwood

With Citizenship Day on September 17th, I would like to reflect on my experience working  with a national multi-organizational initiative to encourage the country's lawful permanent residents (LPR) to become U.S. citizens.  In every facet of society, immigrants are integral members in the economy and the political discourse.  With this in mind, CLINIC has pursued steps to reach the approximate 8 million LPRs who are eligible to become citizens.

As part of this collaborative,  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help with the planning and implementation of CLINIC's first professional multimedia campaign known as La Ciudadanía: Cambia Tu Vida (Citizenship: It Changes Your Life).   The initiative, in partnership with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, strives to motivate the 1.2 million legal permanent residents in Los Angeles to become U.S. citizens through an eclectic package of television, radio, and print public service announcements (PSA).  

Cardinal Roger Mahony and Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles lent their voices to this one-of-a-kind Catholic call for citizenship through multimedia PSAs.  All campaign materials were designed with Los Angeles' large and diverse Latino population in mind and appear in Spanish.

As a naturalized U.S. citizen, I have a vested interest in ensuring the success of this campaign.  During the planning of the campaign, I collaborated closely with multiple immigrant-serving organizations, notably Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, NALEO Educational Fund, and Asian Pacific American Legal Center.  Catholic Charities, in partnership with NALEO, held a naturalization workshop on April 28, 2012 at Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa in Los Angeles.  Over 350 men and women seeking naturalization services were assisted.   Taking place accross the country, workshop efforts like this are inspiring.  Through naturalization workshops and other shared initiatives, members of the collaborative and I strive to facilitate immigrant integration. 

This collaborative effort has provided the impetus and essential funds to direct service providers to help hundreds of potentially eligible LPRs and their families to become Americans.  As a country of immigrants, it's important to recognize the importance of citizenship and help eligible immigrants  attain the important milestone of becoming a U.S. citizens.  

*Rommel is the Project Coordinator for the New Americans Collaboration

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Citizenship for Elders: Issues and Options in Test Preparation, 2nd Edition (2012)

Citizenship for Elders is a unique handbook for teachers and administrators on creating and managing a citizenship program for the older learner.  This handbook brings together the observations and insights of teachers from across the country on older learners from a wide range of cultures.  It is based on a nationwide survey of 200 programs.  It identifies the issues in teaching elders and makes recommendations for instruction and program design.  The recommendations are practice-based, with a focus on innovative and promising practices.  The suggestions on learning activities, cultural considerations for the classroom, and strategies to address common health issues will be particularly helpful to teachers.  CLINIC hopes this free handbook will help service providers strengthen their programs and assist many more elders to secure their future in the U.S. by becoming citizens.

Click Here to View "Citizenship for Elders"

Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit

Citizenship test preparation and quality legal services go hand in hand in assisting an immigrant along the path to citizenship. A prospective bill for comprehensive immigration reform will most likely bring changes in legal and language requirements for citizenship. It is the job of all legal service providers and teaching professionals working with the foreign born to anticipate these requirements and prepare clients in advance. The Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit will be helpful to anyone seeking ways to better serve the foreign born as they prepare to naturalize.

Please also see CLINIC’s Creating a Workplace ELL Program for information on how to partner with local businesses and implement a workplace English Language Learning program.

Click on the chapters below to read sections of the Creating a Citizenship Program Preparation Toolkit

  1. Introduction: Tools for a Legal Program Interested in Starting a Citizenship Program - Designed for legal immigration programs interested in creating a citizenship program.
  2. A Client’s  Road to Citizenship - Follow the client’s road to citizenship with this chart that details the step-by-step process a client follows in order to become a U.S. citizen.
  3. Program Needs for Legal and Language Service Programs Combined - Compare the programmatic and equipment needs for legal and language programs, and learn what components of these two programs can be shared.
  4. Citizenship Program Models - Many citizenship programs start small and grow over time. This chart will identify easy services to implement now plus provide ideas for services to plan for in the future.
  5. Planning for a Citizenship Program - Creating a legal and language service program requires a lot of planning and thought. A sample Logic Model is provided to assist program development and a blank template can be printed for individual use.
  6. Program Development - Funding must be considered when planning to open a new program or to offer new services. Use this resource to learn about possible program standards required by funders as well as potential sources of funding.
  7. Integrating Technology into your Program - The use of technology is becoming increasingly important in the legal and language services field. This chart will pinpoint technological advances and improvements programs can make today and into the future.
  8. Sample Course Outlines for Citizenship Class - Click here to view sample course outlines for both ELL-based civics classes and citizenship classes.  
  9. Training  and other Resources - Visit this page to access resources that can be used for planning legal and language service programs.
  10. FAQs - Find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding a citizenship preparation program.
  11. Terminology - Learn the definitions of commonly used terms and acronyms.

Questions? Contact Leya Speasmaker at lspeasmaker@cliniclegal.org.

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Projects: 

Translations of Citizenship Test Questions

Translations of the U.S. History/Government Test Questions

The translations listed here were completed by USCIS and community organizations throughout the country. For translations completed by community organizations, the organization's contact information is included on the translation.

***Please note that some information, such as the name of the President and Speaker of the House, changes regularly and may not be up to date. Other information, such as the name of the applicant’s Senator and Governor, will vary depending on where the applicant lives. 

Translations done by USCIS

 

Translations done by community organizations 

 

CLINIC Study Guide for the Citizenship Test

 

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Increasing the Participation of Refugee Seniors in the Civic Life of Their Communities

Created by Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit Development & Pluralism in partnership with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. under a project funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Technical Assistance to Promote Refugee Citizenship & Civic Participation.” This
guide was developed through a collaboration between Mosaica and the Temple University Center for Intergenerational Learning’s “Civic Engagement for All” initiative. It is a companion piece to a webinar conducted on March 9, 2009. The webinar presented a report by the
Center for Intergenerational Learning (CIL) entitled, Community Treasures: Recognizing the Contributions of Older Immigrants and Refugees.

Click Here to Download This Toolkit

Click Here to View the Webinar

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Increasing Refugee Civic Participation: A Guide for Getting Started

The purpose of this guide is to assist organizations that represent, serve, and advocate for refugees1 to think through various approaches to increasing civic participation in refugee communities, and to choose approaches and strategies that will work best for them. It provides
an overview of civic participation definitions, offers example of successful approaches, and identifies barriers to civic participation for refugees. Lastly, it offers suggestions for where to start, including questions to ask in planning a civic participation effort.

 

Click Here to Download this Toolkit

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Strategies for Naturalizing the Most Vulnerable Applicants Handbook

Refugees and immigrants strongly desire U.S. citizenship. Yet, many of them, especially those who are elderly, disabled, low-income, low-literate, and limited English proficient, face serious challenges in the naturalization process. These challenges can impede their integration and their civic participation in U.S. society.

This handbooks outlines strategies for helping these particular populations naturalize.

Issues: