State to cover citizenship application fee for 2,000 immigrants
Story by Gregg McQueen
This is a lottery like no other.
New York State has unveiled a program that will cover the application fee for U.S. citizenship for an estimated 2,000 low-income immigrants, with winners to be selected by a lottery.
The initiative, dubbed NaturalizeNY, is an effort to assist immigrants for whom the existing $680 fee for a citizenship application is a financial obstacle.
Open until September 23, the lottery is aimed at immigrants with modest incomes that are not low enough to qualify for the federal fee waiver.
New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado announced the program on July 13 at the Center for Community and Ethnic Media (CCEM) at the City University of New York’s School of Journalism. The following day, also held a NaturalizeNY event at John Jay College of Criminal Justice with immigration advocates and elected officials.
Rosado hailed NaturalizeNY as the first public-private partnership of its kind in the United States, and said the program will provide free eligibility screenings and help with citizenship applications, in addition to the fee waivers.
“There are many working families just outside of the waiver eligibility for whom the fee is still a barrier to applying,” Rosado stated.
The Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust will join the state in providing $1.25 million to cover the cost of the fees.
Prospective applicants can visit www.naturalizeny.org or call the New Americans Hotline at 800.566.7636 by September 23 to enter the lottery.
NaturalizeNY is open to New York residents who are green-card holders, earn under 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline and who do not qualify for a federal fee waiver.
“We’re encouraging people who are eligible or think they are eligible to go on the website and learn their eligibility,” said Rosado.
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