Google +LinkedInPinterestYouTubeInstagramTwitterFacebook

An easier path to citizenship

Featured in Citizenship
An easier path to citizenship
Courtesy ajc.com

To gain American citizenship, immigrants used to spend hours or even weeks in Ellis Island, being subjected to rounds of medical tests and background checks. The process often would claim lives and split up families.

Those daunting days have long come and past. Fifty years later, Ellis Island is closed, and the naturalization process has been modernized. But, as many immigrants find, it's still not simple.

To help immigrants learn more about the process, American Legion Post 29 in Marietta, Ga., organized an official naturalization class for foreigners who'd like to learn more about becoming citizens. About 20 immigrants gathered at the post Dec. 3 for an educational session, which welcomed as a featured speaker Joe Kernan, a community relations officer with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Kernan went over the particulars and answered questions about naturalization, which can include piles of paperwork and a final examination test in English on U.S. citizenship and government. The process can even be difficult for English-speaking immigrants.

"It's like anything with government: No one knows where to start," Post 29 Commander Bill Beaudin said.

Immigrants received guide books for the new Naturalization Test and got the opportunity to ask Kernan questions. Often the subject of changes and rumors, the naturalization process can create misunderstandings.

Kernan warned attendees that, should an immigration officer ask them if they'd bear arms for their country, rolling up their sleeves and exposing their biceps wasn't the proper response. The anecdote drew chuckles, as Kernan explained that the question was actually supposed to gauge their willingness to defend their country.

A woman from China asked if speeding tickets would affect her chance of gaining citizenship. Generally, only crimes that indicate poor moral character hurt your chances, Kernan explained. Another woman was there attending the class on behalf of her sister who is a legal alien but stranded in the Phillipines because of illness. Kernan warned that staying out of the country for too long can cause loss of residency.

The highest hurdle to American citizenship is often the Naturalization Test, which changed as recently as Oct. 1. The new version tests on the concepts of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, rather than mundane historical facts.

To help them prepare, immigrants attending the session received study pamphlets and exam materials.

"They have words to study," Beaudin said. "One of the big things was becoming familiar with the language."

The class was the beginning of a series of naturalization educational efforts at Post 29. Working with Transfiguration Catholic Church and USCIS, the post in January will host classes on U.S. government and English as a Second Language.

"We had a sign up sheet that had e-mail addresses and stuff like that, so we'll contact people in the future to see what they are interested in attending," Beaudin said.

For additional coverage

 

 

More in Citizenship

 

inchirieriautomasini

June 5, 2011 - 5:32pm

What i like a lot in the US is the new plans about entrepreneurs. For example you are allowed to become a citizen if you can prove that you can start a business in the US which could employ more than 10. I have a small franchise in Eastern Europe, and the idea of coming in US is very tempting such as inchirierimasini.net.

jayz7

January 17, 2011 - 11:52pm

This process is way easier than the previous one.

kyle

August 18, 2010 - 2:16pm

I was in the army tryed to get citizenship they kept handing my paperwork to new privates it never got done i have now been out for a year with an honorable discharge and no word on any of my paperwork if anyone can help me to get it pls send me a message. kstroud87@hotmail.com

fxrhawg

June 23, 2010 - 1:16pm

This article is about a post doing a good thing other than sitting around the bar being ignorant. It's about my brother's who stood beside me and other Vet's in two wars or maybe their Wife's that were not US born but deserve to be a Citizen of the US for their sacrifice and service. That is more than most people in this country are willing to do for what they already have.

NightOwl_6871

April 16, 2010 - 6:25pm

WHILE I WAS IN BASIC TRAINING AT LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS OUR DRILL INSTRUCTOR WAS TO TAKEN ILL, AND SIX NON AMERICAN AIRMEN MISSED OUT ON BECOMING AMERICAN CITIZENS, NOW I'M SIXTY ONE YEARS OLD WITH A SERIOUSLY DAMAGED LIVER FROM WHAT THE V.A.HOSPITAL SYSTEM SAYS IS A UNBEKNOWN INFECTION, AND I DO NOT WANT TO DIE NOT BEING AN AMERICAN CITIZEN ! I SERVED MY COUNTRY AND HAVE AN HONORABLE DISCHARGE, WILL THE AMERICAN LEGION HELP ME WITH THIS ISSUE ! MY EMAIL ADDRESS IS : CORROCHANO23@YAHOO.COM MY POST IS IN ORLANDO, FL. POST NO. 0400 AND MY MEMBER ID NO. 203851596 GOD BLESS AMERICA !

msafiri

December 22, 2009 - 11:51pm

I am a Desert Storm veteran and I think I have received one of the worst treatments any one can get from the INS. I don't know who I pissed off or what went wrong where but I think I might have to settle for posthumous citizenship since that one might be easier to get. I have for the last 10 yrs spent a lot of money and time trying to get what I thought was rightfully mine but I'm frustrated beyond words. I will be calling Mr. Hoffman tomorrow maybe he can enlighten me.

simpsonth

December 18, 2009 - 12:47pm

To Sooners61. What the HELL. Where did you see illegal aliens? Maybe you need glasses? Some immigrants may be married to veteran citizens. Never thought of that did you. Give it a rest and talk about something you may know something about.

Sooners61

December 13, 2009 - 12:28am

Why in the hell would the American Legion help more people/illegal aliens become citizens?

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Tell us what you think