Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Naturalize before the year ends

One way to round out 2020 on a positive note is to apply for citizenship. CUNY Citizenship Now and other nonprofit organizations are providing assistance remotely. From CUNY: "Our staff is available via phone, #Zoom or #WhatsApp for consultations and to help you fill out the forms. Our services are free. Call 646-664-9400, 9-5, M-F to make an appointment or text 929-334-3784." The New Americans Campaign has collected naturalization workshops all over the country. USCIS has a citizenship resource center on its website.

For more context on the process of applying for citizenship, see "I Hereby Declare, On Oath", the immiwonk blog's multi-part series on naturalization. 

Part 1. Naturalization is the end of the beginning of many immigrant's American story. Over the years some people have asked us, “I want to know more about the U.S. immigration system, but where do I start?” To them we always make the same recommendation: start by attending a naturalization ceremony. Whatever your political orientation or attitude about immigration in general, there is no more moving, emotional, and pride-inducing event than watching a group of people from diverse national, religious, and ethnic backgrounds stand together in a room and join this 200 plus year old project in small (d) democracy that we Americans are embarked upon (rocky as it may be at times). 

Part 2. Do all green card holders eventually become citizens? While U.S. law outlines a clear process for permanent residents (green card holders) to become U.S. citizens, it is not a requirement. You can live in the United States with a green card for your entire life as long as you follow the restrictions, don’t vote, always file your taxes, and don’t commit a serious crime. While the benefits of citizenship are many, there are also benefits to retaining a foreign citizenship while living in the United States, and not every country in the world is willing to let you maintain your foreign passport if you are also carrying a U.S. passport.

A Part 3 on the good moral character required to get your citizenship application approved will appear next week.

The AP News wrote a retrospective piece on the rush to naturalize as an unintended consequence of Trump's election and the anticipation of exclusionary policies.

And my book and TEDx talk (A New Way to Think About American Citizenship) on Pursuing Citizenship similarly present portraits of the naturalization process based on the first-person experiences of immigrants seeking to become citizens. (Thanks for the shout-out @immiwonk and for including it on the year-end review of immigration books, immigrationprof!)


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