India West: USCIS Releases New, Longer Naturalization Form – Feb 12, 2014

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By A Staff Reporter
Feb 12, 2014

A citizenship clinic offered by SAN

United States

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is due to release a new N-400 form, the application all legal permanent residents must use to apply for naturalization.

Changes will take affect May 5, when the new form, double in length, will be implemented. This will make the application process more difficult for the millions of greencard holders eligible for citizenship, said a press release from the South Asian Network.

“We encourage the South Asian community to apply for citizenship now,” Almas Haider, civil rights advocate at SAN, stated in a press release. “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.”

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 office and in community and religious centers in Southern California.

Studies show that Indian American and other South Asian greencard holders can receive priceless benefits by naturalizing, said SAN. Individuals can likely expect a 40 percent increase in wages and 32 percent increase in income. These benefits directly contribue to higher rates of education as well as a 32 percent 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, noted SAN, creating 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 for Hindi/Urdu speakers, and the other in Koreatown, Los Angeles, for Bangla speakers.

South Asian greencard holders are encouraged to reach out to SAN before May 2, when the shortened form is still available. Though the form will change, Haider assures the community that SAN’s trained staff and attorneys are able to assist the community in preparing their naturalization application.

SAN offers free clinics in Artesia every second 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.

Those interest in more information about SAN’s upcoming citizenship clinics should call (562) 403-0488 x130 or visit the Web site.


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