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Federal grant encourages naturalization in Philadelphia

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department has recently awarded a Citizenship and Integration grant to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society of Pennsylvania to help promote naturalization. Philadelphia has long been home to a considerable number of immigrants and has recently been called a "re-emerging gateway" for immigrants. In addition, Philadelphia has the 11th highest number of green card holders who could, but have not yet, applied for naturalization.

It only makes sense that the Philadelphia region should receive this grant. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society will work with several other organizations in eastern Pennsylvania to provide legal aid and citizenship classes for individuals going through the naturalization process. The hope is that these classes and services will attract higher numbers because of some integral changes made to existing programs. Many of the classes will now be held in the evening, reducing the amount of conflict with work responsibilities. They will also be held in areas with high concentrations of immigrants.

The focus on naturalization and citizenship is based off of research that shows how naturalization increases the financial success of immigrants, as well as opening up more economic opportunities. Of course, citizenship also allows new immigrants to vote.

Acquiring citizenship is not an easy task. Not only does it require hours of study, skills in civics and English fluency, but immigrants must also meet basic requirements such as living in the United States for a minimum of five years. Because the process is difficult, it is often difficult to tackle alone. Instead, working with an experienced immigration attorney can mean the difference between becoming an American and remaining a green card holder.

Source: Philadelphia News, "USCIS Selects Philadelphia Organizations to Promote Citizenship," Oct. 9, 2012

If you are looking for more information and how we have helped individuals become American citizens, please visit our Lancaster naturalization and citizenship page.

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