Immigrants Vote in Upcoming Presidential Election

Posted on March 21, 2016 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

A Simple “How To”

Immigrants vote in presidential election

In less than eight months, the United States will vote to elect its next President along with new state and federal representatives and, as always, legal immigrants can take part in this important process.  If you have been a legal permanent resident for five years and you want to participate, now is the time to resolve to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Need help applying for citizenship?  Catholic Charities is here to help.

There are many practical benefits to being a citizen: increased income potential, access to public benefits, protection from deportation, family reunification and unrestricted travel.

But the most important benefit, ultimately, is the right and privilege to vote. Since citizens have the right to vote, they can elect officials whose political ideas they share. If they are unhappy with an elected official, they can vote for someone else in the next election. This authority over one’s own government is both necessary and sacred; there is no greater power in the hands of citizens.

C. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038.  He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law. He is a regular contributor on immigration updates for “El Diario” newspaper. And, as an immigration experts, he regularly writes guest posts in our “Charity in Action” blog.

According to a recent Center for Migration Studies report, in 2013 there were about 8.6 million legal permanent residents in the United States eligible to naturalize. Mexican nationals constitute the largest eligible population at 2.7 million, followed by Indian, Chinese, Cuban, and Canadian nationals. By state, California, Texas, New York, and Florida contain about 5 million of those eligible for citizenship.

While some immigrants may have a hard time meeting certain naturalization requirements because of limited English ability or because they can’t afford the fee, the majority of eligible immigrants seem to be well-situated to naturalize: almost two thirds speak English and over three quarters live with income above the poverty level.

Right now it takes the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about 6-9 months to process an application for citizenship.  To simplify the process that agency will accept check, money order, or credit card payment for the USCIS form N-400, Application for Naturalization, filing fee.

  • To pay by credit card, when you file form N-400, include USCIS form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. The form is available online or by calling (800) 870-3676.  USCIS announced the credit card payment program as a way to encourage permanent residents to naturalize.
  • The naturalization application filing fee is $680, which includes a $85 biometrics (fingerprinting) fee.
  • Immigration will not fingerprint applicants who are over 75 years old, so their fee is $595.
  • A fee waiver is available if you are receiving a “means-tested” benefit such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), if your household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or if you are suffering temporary financial hardship. The Request for Fee Waiver Form I-912 must be submitted with your application. It will, however, significantly delay the processing of the application.

These are the forms and fees needed to make your voice heard. Because in less than eight months - on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, to be exact – the U.S. will elect its next president and legal immigrants can participate in this important process.

Contact Catholic Charities for help in applying for citizenship


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