More that 140 citizenship seekers showed up in the gymnasium of Medgar Evers College on Crown Street Brooklyn last Saturday 9, to take full advantage of the CUNY Citizenship Now outreach, a free citizenship application help event that was held in partnership with Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, Diana C, Richardson and Assembly member, and NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton.
The five-borough twice-monthly initiative attracted a high percentage of Caribbean nationals who have been permanent residents for five years.
Communication and College Relations Specialist, A. Sofia Carreno, explained that a pre-screening phone interview determine the eligibility of the applicant before an appointment is set up to attend the event.
Carreno discouraged residents from showing up without an appointment, stating that applicants must come prepared with the necessary documents needed to complete the citizenship process.
“We want to make sure applicants have all documents needed for exact determination of eligibility so that they leave here with a complete application package to mail to USCIS,” said Carreno.
Citizenship hopefuls poured into the college, many leaving disappointed, while others left happy that they were on their way to becoming American citizens.
Volunteer attorneys, trained immigrant specialist and students of CUNY who had a one-on-one interview with each applicant, worked quickly to moved the crowd to completion during the four-hour event.
Applicants also had their picture taken free to place in a self-addressed envelope provided by CUNY.
The citizenship application fee was not required at the interview.
Many who qualified for a fee waiver that allowed them to skip the hefty USCIS $680.00 payment, were guided through the process by specialist who determined if they were eligible for the benefit.
Attorney Stephanie Delia of CUNY’s immigration department noted that persons in the 150 percent poverty guideline stipulated by the government quality for the fee waver. For example, persons who receive SNAP, rent assistance, or have lived in a shelter, or unemployed for a several years, among other benefits, quality for the waiver.
Citizenship Now, the largest and most comprehensive university-based immigration service which began in 1997 to give free immigration and citizenship services to all New Yorkers at six full-time centers, now has more than 30 affiliated locations mostly at the offices of New York City Council Members.
To find an upcoming event in your community, go to www.cuny.edu/