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How to get American citizenship for free in New York

Many people in America dream of becoming an American citizen. Photo: depositphotos.com

American citizenship is one of the most coveted in the entire world. However, like almost everything in the US, it cannot be obtained for free. If you have a green card and the deadline for applying for citizenship has already come, you need to prepare a package of documents, learn US history and the language for taking the test, and prepare to pay a rather large fee for filing an application for naturalization. However, low-income New Yorkers now have the opportunity to complete the necessary documents for free - thanks to a special program launched by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. ForumDaily figured out how this program works and who can claim to be free naturalization.

At his own expense

Marina Markova from New York was naturalized in November 2014. By that time, she lived in the US 3 for the year and was married to an American, which enabled her not to wait for the 5 years that are usually required for citizenship. She filed a form N-400 to the Citizenship and Immigration Service. Attached to it are photographs, a copy of the green card and a check for $ 725, of which $ 640 is the application fee and $ 85 is the so-called biometric fee. After that, Marina passed a criminal background check, passed her fingerprints at one of the centers that handles the applications of the Immigration Service. Then she was scheduled for a naturalization interview. Prior to that, she received a Q&A booklet regarding US procedure and history.

“I worked very diligently and took a long time to prepare for the interview, memorized the names of American politicians and the structure of the American electoral system. When I came for an interview, the employee of the service had such a thick dossier on me that it seemed to me that there should be information about every day of my life, starting from my birthday. He carefully leafed through it and asked me questions: was I a member of the Communist Party, was I connected with terrorists, and so on. I was terribly worried and probably said too much. For example, she said that she was not a member of the party, but was a pioneer, ”recalls Marina Markova.

After the interview, an employee of the service gave her a leaflet with questions from American history and the girl had to answer them in his presence. Marina says that there were about 6-7 questions, but it was enough to answer just 4 correctly. When a New Yorker answered the required number of questions, the service employee took the test, congratulated the girl, and Marina went home to wait for an invitation to a special event - taking the oath of allegiance to the United States.

Marina paid the fee on their own. Photo: from the personal archive of Marina Markova

Marina also says that in this interview they give a form in which they ask to indicate the name under which they will consider you an American citizen. In this column you can write anything you want - up to a new name. After that, it will be quite difficult to change this information.

A US citizen remembers that when she an invitation came to naturalization, she had to go on vacation.

“I almost cried, because I had already bought tickets and had a gorgeous tour of California. In addition, I was pregnant and it was the last confirmed by a doctor to fly before childbirth. I even wanted to ask the state to postpone naturalization, because there is such an opportunity, but after reading the reviews, I concluded that it would be better not to postpone the procedure, otherwise the process may drag on for several more years, ”says Marina Markova.

To the girl it was enough to call the airline and say that she received an invitation for naturalization during the planned vacation, after which she was returned money for the tickets. To confirm her words, Marina sent a copy of the invitation to the procedure.

According to the girl's recollections, the oath procedure itself was very simple - she came smartly, a judge came out to her and to other people and told that her parents brought to the US when she was just 2, and congratulated all future US citizens on this event. Then Marina in this group sang a hymn and swore allegiance to the United States.

“An important point is that a passport is not given during the naturalization procedure. To obtain it, you need to submit a separate application, and this is paid additionally, ”adds Marina Markova.

Free passage of naturalization

If Marina was able to pay the state duty on her own, then more than 900 thousands of New Yorkers eligible for naturalization cannot afford these costs, because the cost of the duty is 725 dollars.

Just for such people with small and medium income project was created Naturalizeywhich provides comprehensive support in the naturalization process - from free eligibility determination, application assistance, preparation for the citizenship exam, to a lottery that will play a certain number of vouchers for low-income working immigrants.

The project is aimed at people who receive more than the amount at which they are exempted from paying federal fees, but not enough to pay for the naturalization procedure without harming the family budget. So, if a person earns $ 35 thousand a year, he does not have the right to claim exemption from paying the duty - this is allowed only to those who receive no more than 150% of the federal living wage (Federal Poverty Guidelines). In this case, the cost of applying for citizenship for him is equal to earnings in about a week. Program Naturalizey same open to those whose income ranges from 150 to 300% of the federal subsistence minimum.

Until 28 July you can take part in the lottery. Photo: depositphotos.com

The program was running New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2016 year. 1 May 2018, the next round of the project began. In order to be able to undergo the naturalization procedure for free, you need to register before July 3 2018 by link. Thus, potential candidates have a little less than two weeks to sign up and get a chance to win a voucher for free naturalization.

“The history of New York is written by immigrants who come from all over the world to live better for themselves and their families and become New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said at the presentation of the second round of the project. “In these difficult times, we make it clear that we welcome you to our New Yorker family, where we know our strength lies in diversity.”

In 2016-2017, the program helped more than 900 residents of New York to obtain American citizenship for free by issuing vouchers totaling more than 500 000 dollars to them.

In the new round project Naturalizey will continue to help thousands of New Yorkers who meet the criteria for citizenship.

The project is implemented with the support of a number of reputable organizations: Bureau promoting the newly arrived americans in collaboration with the Robin Hood Foundation, The New York Community Foundation, Stanford University, George University Mason, SUNY University at Albany.

In 2015 year study Urban Institute showed that citizenship immigrants are starting to earn 8,9% more. Thus, an increase in income leads to an increase in tax payments and a decrease in dependence on social benefits. In the case of New York, this would mean that if all immigrants who meet the criteria become citizens, then the treasury would receive tax deductions for 789 million dollars more, which, along with a decrease in the use of benefits, would bring a net profit of 823 million dollars.

The real experience of the person who won the lottery Naturalizey

Tatyana Koneva participated in the lottery Naturalizey the year before last. The woman decided to go through the naturalization procedure immediately after the 5-year stay in the United States on the green card, but the amount of duty discouraged her. Tatiana accidentally found out about the start of a new lottery for the free passage of naturalization and decided to try, although she earned more or less normal.

“I applied online in early December 2016, filled out some kind of non-lottery questionnaire, and forgot all about it. And suddenly a couple of months later I received a letter with information that I won a voucher for a free naturalization! After that, we set a date for submitting the documents, ”says Tatiana.

Tatiana took part in the lottery. Photo: from the personal archive of Tatiana

A woman collected documents and came to the Service for Refugees and Immigrants (USCommittee for immigrants), where she was helped to complete a long questionnaire. After that, the woman brought up the missing documents, which the service lawyer once again rechecked. The whole procedure was completely free.

Tatyana Koneva says that from the very beginning she was told about the whole process - filling out a questionnaire, checking a questionnaire by a lawyer, then sending documents, fingerprinting and waiting for an interview for naturalization. When she was summoned to take her fingerprints, the paper stated that all duties had already been paid.

How to participate in the lottery?

1. Before 3 July 2018 of the year please register on project site to participate in the lottery

Any US green card holder residing in the state of New York who is eligible for US citizenship and meets certain income requirements can take part in the program.

This is a completely free program, that is, you do not need to pay for registration in the lottery. You also do not have to bear any additional costs, regardless of whether you choose or not.

You also have the right to free migration and legal assistance in any New Opportunity Center at the New Americans Office (Office for New Americans Opportunity Center) in the state of New York.

After registering for the lottery, you will need to participate in several surveys to provide more information about your experience and skills. Also keep in mind that you can only get a free voucher if you complete and submit a naturalization application through the local New Opportunity Center at the New Americans Office.

2. Wait for the information that you won an immigration voucher

If you win, you will receive an e-mail, you will be notified via SMS or by phone. Within 30 days from the time you receive the notification, you will need to contact your Opportunity Center in order to schedule an interview, as well as complete and submit an application for naturalization. If you do not do this, you can lose your voucher. Keep in mind that the payment of the naturalization registration fee from the Opportunity Center goes directly to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

You cannot use the voucher to cover other immigration expenses or to pay for your family members' immigration expenses. Wherein, Your family members who meet the criteria can register for the lottery separately.

3. Apply for naturalization at the Opportunity Center, have an interview and tests for a candidate for citizenship

After successfully completing this procedure, you will receive a confirmation and become a US citizen. After a while, you’ll need to tell the Opportunity Center staff member that how are you doing after obtaining citizenship. This survey will take no more than 15 minutes.

For more information, call the hotline for new Americans (New americans hotline) In this case, you will need to ask about the program “NaturalizeNY.”: 1-800-566-7636.

Read also on ForumDaily:

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Miscellaneous New York Educational program naturalization in USA Editor's Choice

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