Our New Citizens

For adults without prior schooling in the United States, it's a long road to citizenship. Our students work one-to-one with a volunteer tutor to learn civics, literacy, and interview skills. This can take several months to several years, depending on the student's skill levels at the outset. Students submit a 10-page application, pay a hefty application fee (currently $680), go through an FBI criminal records check, and finally, appear for a personal background interview (in English) at the USCIS office. If the examiner determines that the student can speak, read, and write English, knows the fundamentals of U.S. history and government, and meets the legal qualifications for citizenship, the student is scheduled for an oath ceremony.

The ESL Center prioritizes services for students we consider to be "at risk" (low literacy, low English proficiency, elderly, with test anxiety or disabilities), and we keep at it until we are sure that they will be able to pass the test when the time comes. Since 1985, 100% of our students have succeeded at their naturalization tests.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a life-changing event for immigrant students. They can now vote in elections (often for the first time in their lives), sponsor family members to live in the United States, qualify for federal assistance (like social security or financial aid for college), and travel with a U.S. passport (for refugees, this may be the only way to visit relatives in the home country with any degree of safety). Minor sons and daughters of US citizens automatically become citizens when their parents do, so this accomplishment will often have life-changing implications for the entire family.

View our photo gallery of our newest citizens (below) just after their naturalization ceremonies. Congratulations to all of our new citizens and to the dedicated volunteers who helped to ensure their success. Well done!

Congratulations to our new United States citizens!