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February 05, 2014
USCIS RELEASES NEW N400, APPLICATION FOR NATURALIZATION FORM
ARTESIA, CA – The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) releases a new N-400 form, the application all legal permnanent residents, greencard holders, must use to apply for naturalization. Changes will take affect on May 5th when the new form, double in length and intesity, will be implemented. This will make the application process more difficult for the millions of greencard holders eligible for citizenship.
“We encourage the South Asian community to apply for citizenship now,” says Almas Haider, Civil Rights Advocate at South Asian Network. “There is a 90 day window period for currently eligible greencard holders to apply for citizenship before the process becomes more complicated with the new form.”
South Asian Network (SAN) has been a pioneer in providing naturalization support to the South Asian community. In the last three years, SAN has priovided free application and legal support for over 250 participants through citizenship clinics held both in their Artesia, CA office and in community and religious centers in Southern California.
“SAN recognizes citizenship as a stepping stone for the South Asian community to become more civicially engaged, improve access to education and increase household income,” said Almas.
Studies show that South Asian greencard holders can receive priceless benefits by naturalizing. Individuals can likely expect a 40% increase in wages and 32% increase in income. These benefits directly contribue to higher rates of education as well as a 32% increase in homeownership.
While there are clear benefits, there also exist barriers that prevent people from naturalizing, including limited levels of English proficiency, transportation, and financial hardship. One out of five South Asians have limited levels of English proficiency. This creates obstacles for older South Asian greencard holders who need support to pass the naturalization exam.
Starting in March, SAN will be launching its free ESL Civics series, designed to support individuals with limited levels of English proficiency to pass the naturalization exam. Two courses will be offered, one in Artesia, CA for Hindi/Urdu speakers, and the other in Koreatown, Los Angeles for Bangla speakers.
SAN’s clinics, which are held in underserved South Asian communities also address the lack of transportation and economic resources available. By offering free clinics in local religious and community centers as well as public libraries, SAN addresses the needs of hard to reach South Asian greencard holders. SAN also provides support in filling out fee-waivers for the naturalization application and biometrics fees, a saving of $680.
South Asian greencard holders are encouraged to reach out to SAN before May 2nd, 2014, when the shortened form is still available. Though the form will change, Almas Haider assures the community that SAN’s trained staff and attorneys are able and eager to assist the community in preparing their naturalization application.
SAN offers free clinics in Artesia, CA every 2nd Thursday of the month as well as field clinics on varying locations and dates. The clinics are offered in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange County in six South Asian languages: Bangla, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, and Marathi. For more information about SAN’s upcoming citizenship clinics, please call 562-403-0488 x130 or visit www.southasiannetwork.org.
Civil Rights Advocate
562-403-0488 x 130