Naturalization

Democracy is not just a question of having a vote. It consists of strengthening each citizen’s possibility and capacity to participate in the deliberations involved in life in society. –Fernando Cardoso

 

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a deeply personal choice for every person. The benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen are numerous, including: the right to vote in any Federal and state election, the ability to travel with a U.S. passport, eligibility to apply for Federal jobs, and the ability to run for any elected office. Obtaining U.S. citizenship also protects most individuals from the fear of deportation, the expense that comes with renewing a green card, and the ability to bring family members to the U.S more easily.


In order to apply for U.S. citizenship, individuals must meet certain eligibility requirements. The applicant must be a lawful permanent resident and have had their green card for at least 5 years (or 3 years, if married to a U.S. citizen). He/she must be a person of good moral character and not have serious criminal issues. Applicants generally cannot have taken trips outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months at one time.  He/she must also show continuous residence in the U.S. for the statutory period.  Most individuals will also have to read/write/speak basic English and pass a U.S. history and civics test.


Working in partnership with the York County Literacy Council (YCLC), PIRC was awarded dedicated funding from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to provide citizenship assistance to eligible lawful permanent residents in Pennsylvania. The Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program has awarded more than $82 million across 38 states to organizations who have provided assistance to over 200,000 individuals as they prepare for U.S. citizenship.


This project consists of citizenship classes taught by YCLC staff and access to free naturalization application preparation provided by PIRC:


Citizenship Classes
YCLC has been offering citizenship classes since May 2017, and in that time, has taught individuals from more than 52 different countries. YCLC offers citizenship classes in 16-week cycles, meeting once per week for 3 hours. Classes are offered in York and Hanover. Through this class, students will focus on history and civics information necessary for the naturalization interview, as well as required vocabulary, reading, and writing in English. Enrolled students will also have the opportunity to visit local historical sites and hear from guest speakers to supplement coursework and increase overall comprehension of U.S. government and politics.


To register for a citizenship class, please contact YCLC at (717) 845-8719.


Naturalization Preparation
Students enrolled in YCLC citizenship classes will have the opportunity to speak with a representative from PIRC regarding their eligibility to submit the naturalization application. PIRC will conduct a screening with each student, and follow up to schedule individual consultations. PIRC will work with eligible students to complete and submit the N-400 Application for Naturalization, as well as prepare students for the naturalization interview in front of USCIS. PIRC staff may also represent an applicant at their interview, determined on a case-by-case basis.

 


In an effort to encourage eligible lawful permanent residents to apply for citizenship, PIRC will hold Citizenship Clinics throughout the year in York and Harrisburg. Individuals who attend these clinics will have the opportunity to have an attorney or accredited legal representative review their naturalization application and discuss any questions or concerns. PIRC will also screen for and connect individuals to other legal resources, English and/or citizenship classes, and social service agencies. For a schedule of upcoming clinics and to register, please call Allison Little Sun at (717) 600-8099 ext. 208.