NaturalizeNY in Easy-to-Follow Bullet Points

Posted on July 20, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

New Effort Helps Legal Immigrants Become U.S. Citizens

Governor Andrew Cuomo just launched “NaturalizeNY,” a statewide effort to help eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens. Just what is it, who will it help and how does it work?  Catholic Charities turns to C. Mario Russell, our Senior Attorney and Director of Immigration Services, for his special insights into this breaking news. 

By C. Mario Russell

Naturalize NY is a first-in-the-nation public-private partnership that will encourage and assist eligible New York State immigrants with becoming U.S. citizens through the naturalization process.

The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) will work alongside Catholic Charities of New York and other not-for-profit organizations throughout the State to provide:

  • free eligibility screenings
  • application assistance
  • fee waiver assistance
  • naturalization exam preparation

The new effort will also feature a lottery that will cover the cost of the several hundreds of dollars federal naturalization application fee for 2,000 low-income citizenship-eligible immigrants.

To help eligible immigrants become U.S. citizens, the Office for New Americans (ONA) will host citizenship and naturalization legal clinics at its 27 Opportunity Centers, including two Catholic Charities – ONA Opportunity Centers In Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, New York.

Each ONA Opportunity Center will provide:

  • information
  • eligibility screenings
  • naturalization application assistance
  • naturalization application fee waiver assistance free of charge.

The legal clinics will be coupled with access to ONA’s free English and civics classes. Additional naturalization assistance services will be coordinated with Catholic Charities and other experienced community partners throughout the state. To further reach immigrants with naturalization information, the State will rely on non-traditional anchor institutions in the community and new advances in technology.

Interested green card holders can determine their eligibility for citizenship and their eligibility for the lottery by:

  • Visiting the Naturalize NY website at
  • Calling the New Americans hotline operated by Catholic Charities at 1-800-566-7636 to enter the lottery or with any immigration questions.

Registration is open to New Yorkers starting July 13th until September 23th, 2016.

Mario Russel also teaches at St. John’s University School of Law and is a regular contributor on immigration news for  “El Diario” newspaper.


Read this in Spanish in El Diario

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