New NaturalizeNY Lottery Increases Legal Immigrants’ Odds of Becoming Citizens

Posted on July 13, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

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Just launched today, NaturalizeNY, a first in the nation public-private partnership, offers special help – and a special lottery – so legal immigrant green card holders in New York can live the dream:  become U.S. citizens.

This effort will help immigrants eager to contribute to our economy fully participate in the State’s civic and economic life. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Office for New Americans (ONA) is working alongside Catholic Charities and others at 27 Opportunity Centers, including two Catholic Charities-ONA Opportunity Centers in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie, New York.

We provide:

  • free eligibility screenings
  • application assistance
  • fee waiver assistance
  • naturalization exam preparation
  • free English and civics classes
  • additional naturalization assistance

Plus – check out this bonanza: 

  • A lottery to cover the cost of the several hundreds of dollars of federal naturalization application fees for 2,000 low-income citizenship-eligible immigrants!

To qualify for the lottery, you must be a green card holder residing in New York State,

  • with a household income between 150% and 300% of the federal poverty guideline
  • AND be eligible for naturalization

To enter the lottery or check out your eligibility, green card holders can either

Registration is open to New Yorkers starting today until September 23rd, 2016.

Why this special program? 

  • Approximately 8.8 million green card holders nationwide are eligible for citizenship but have yet to naturalize, according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates
  • Meanwhile, in New York there are 915,000 citizenship-eligible green card holders and 654,720 in New York City, according to census records.
  • These eligible legal immigrants often do not cross the final frontier to become U.S. citizens because of cost, studies show.
  • There is already an application to waive the federal application fee for low-income immigrants
  • High-income legal immigrants can afford the legal costs to apply for citizenship
  • Until now, there has been a gap: 
    • Many working families are income ineligible for the naturalization fee waiver.    
    • There are still many others who do not know they are eligible for the naturalization fee waiver.
    • Meanwhile, eligible immigrants still incur a variety of other costs during the naturalization process. For example, they may have to pay for English and civics classes, take time off from work, and pay legal fees for consultations with immigration lawyers.

The federal government only grants U.S. citizenship to immigrants with lawful status after the individual fulfills the requirements established by Congress. The process of becoming a citizen, referred to naturalization, generally includes an extensive application to the federal government, submission of fingerprints to be used for a criminal background check by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, passing a language and civics exam, and an interview with a federal immigration officer. After this process, an immigrant is not yet a U.S. citizen until after the individual take the Oath of Allegiance at a citizenship ceremony.

NaturalizeNY helps overcome barriers by providing vital information, defraying naturalization costs and making the process of becoming a citizen more accessible so legal immigrant green card holders in New York can live the dream.

Check out Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services and learn more about NaturalizeNY.

Call the New Americans hotline operated by Catholic Charities for more information at 1-800-566-7636


Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

For Help Call 888-744-7900