The New Americans Campaign is a national group that involves many different organizations uniting to help pave a road to citizenship for immigrants. The campaign is actively working in eight U.S. cities including the metro Detroit area. The New Americans Campaign believes that many people haven’t taken steps to become U.S. citizens because the immigration process has become a lot more complex in recent years. Currently it is estimated that 200,000 permanent residents are living in Michigan and more than half may be eligible for naturalization, but only a small percentage is applying to become citizens every year. Since the organization launched in 2011 they have helped immigrants’ complete over 100,000 naturalization applications.
Interested in becoming a citizen?
If you’re interested in becoming a citizen, you should contact a support group like the New Americans Campaign or an attorney to help you see whether you are eligible to become a citizen and to help guide you through the process. Generally, in order to be eligible for naturalization you must:
- Be age 18 or older; and
- Be a permanent resident for a certain amount of time (usually 5 years or 3 years, depending on how you obtained status); and
- Be a person of good moral character; and
- Have a basic knowledge of U.S. government (this can be excepted due to permanent physical or mental impairment); and
- Have a period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States; and
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English (there are some exceptions to this requirement as well, please contact an attorney for details)
Citizenship offers immigrants benefits above and beyond what is offered to legal permanent residents (green card holders) – such as protection from deportation, protection for family members and the right to vote. Naturalization also creates economic value for both the immigrant and the surrounding community. Studies have shown an 8-11% increase in individual earning potential after gaining citizenship. The benefits of becoming a citizen are numerous, if you are eligible you should start the process of naturalization as soon as possible.