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!

"Thanks to Lynne and Cindy's help, I was able to pass the test and become a citizen of this great country. I feel proud, honored, and grateful. You helped me to achieve this milestone in my life. In this free country, I can freely express myself, I have the power to vote, without worrying about renewing my green card every 10 years, and I am able to visit many countries with a landing visa. This is amazing!"  ~Elan Yi

"Becoming an American citizen has been a great achievement.  I am happy to be able to vote and have opportunities to work.  I appreciate the support of the ESL program.  Lynne and Kurt provided the tools to help me achieve this.  Thanks to them, today I feel proud to be able to grow and develop in this beautiful country."  ~Leony Romero Garrido

"I thank the ESL-Citizenship program that helped me become a citizen. I also thank the USA for giving me the opportunity to be an American citizen. I am happy that my status in the US is better now. I don’t have to renew my papers all the time, I have more opportunities and I can vote."  ~ Alberto Antonio Maradiaga

“I am happy to be an American citizen and I am going to do my best to contribute my quota to make America great." ~ Ugochukwu Reginald Clement Ononibaku

"Becoming a U.S. resident was my first success. Becoming a U.S. citizen was my second success. Pursuing the opportunities that this country has offered me is my third success. I cannot thank this country enough for all of these successes!  I have completed my dream of becoming a U. S. citizen. I am proud of myself but also appreciative of all that this country has given to me." ~ Brian Pham

"Thank you United States for considering me a citizen of the free world. I really feel that since many doors are open for me now, I will try my best to use them for good and to serve the country."
~ Mahendra Sapkota

"When I became USA citizen, I felt so proud. Because we can vote to choose good leadership in our country to make the USA better. Now I have so many opportunities for employment. My son also became a citizen. Now he also has opportunities for a bright future. Our family is safer now we are all citizens." ~ Sabita Lamichhane

"I am so thankful to the United States for granting me citizenship. I’ve been a refugee my whole life, so becoming a citizen means a lot to me. I am grateful for all the opportunities given to me from learning English for the first time at Jones Library to having freedom to do anything and go anywhere I want. This country opened its arms and took care of me and my family when we immigrated, which I will never forget. I am proud to call myself an American." ~Tashi Choden

"On the day I became a Citizen, I felt a thousand pounds was lifted from my shoulders. After so many years in exile, I finally felt that the ground under my feet was safe to put my feet down and walk my life. I finally felt a sense of belonging. The feeling of belonging to the mightiest country, to the land of opportunity and to the land of freedom was indescribable. I feel very blessed. America gave me a home away from home with plenty of rooms called freedom, safety, opportunity and human rights for which I am forever grateful. God bless The United State of America!" ~ Becky Lexial

Becoming American… means a lot to me. I am free here and my son has a chance for a good life. I have a happy life here. I have free speech and free religion here. ~ Dekyi Paldon