Free citizenship workshop helps to educate citizenship candidates

Published: Aug. 2, 2013 at 9:41 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:12 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - One year ago Laura Espinoza accomplished a big dream, becoming a United States Citizen.

"It was really rewarding," said Laura.

But the naturalization application process was daunting for the 29 year old Charlotte resident.

"I was really scared about the appointment," she said.

"I needed to study like 100 questions and it was overwhelming for me."

This is why the Latin American Coalition and other local leaders have organized a one-day citizenship blitz, with the goal of naturalizing hundreds of people in August.

"It's a fearful process because there's some testing involved, knowledge of civics and history, knowledge of the English language," said Adriana Galvez Taylor the Director Immigrant Rights Program at the Latin American Coalition.

The citizenship workshop is part of the New Americans Campaign taking place in eight major metropolitan cities housing approximately 3.3 million legal permanent residents.

"We grow the equality of our diverse population by encouraging people to become citizens to become a full part of our society," said Taylor.

To help answer any doubts free legal council is being offered.

"Immigration law is very complex," added Taylor.

"There are things that could make a person deportable or removable from the United States after obtaining lawful permanent residence."

Though the workshop is free, US Citizenship and Immigration Services does charge.

"$680.00 per application and for people who can't afford private attorneys this is an opportunity to get that legal review," said Taylor.

For those who cannot afford the $680 filing fee, waivers are available.

That review is one of the most important parts of the workshop because just like Laura, participants will walk out of there knowing if they have a green light to obtain the dream of citizenship.

During the workshops, people will get help filling out their applications; make sure that all of their information is there for attorney review.

They will watch a DVD with a short description of what is it like when you finally do get in before immigration for an interview.

They also get study materials and we provide them with vocabulary cards, civics cards.

Individuals who are at least 18 years of age, and who have been Lawful Permanent Residents for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen), who are able to read, write, speak and understand basic English and have basic knowledge of U.S. History and government, and who are of good moral character, may pre-register for these workshops.

Space for the workshop is limited and those persons interested in participating will need to pre-register for the workshop by calling at 704-941-2547, or the NALEO Hotline at 1-888-839-8682

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