SAN FRANCISCO – In celebration of National Citizenship Month in September, San Francisco is encouraging eligible green card holders to take advantage of the free resources available to apply for citizenship at this critical time. California has the highest number of newly naturalized citizens in the country, and many of these new citizens will be voting in the midterm elections this November.
On Saturday, September 24, 2022, San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative are hosting a free in-person, appointment-based workshop in order to help people apply for citizenship and access fee assistance.
“Since the inception of the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative in 2013, we have helped more than 10,000 people become U.S. citizens. From being able to vote, to earning a higher income, citizenship has a positive impact on our families, and San Francisco as a whole,” said Anni Chung, president and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, the Initiative’s lead organization. “This month, we are encouraging all eligible green card holders to take that step.”
“It was important to me to become a citizen because I always wanted to be able to vote and speak out about my political views. But because of my immigration status, I was afraid and unable to do so,” said Maricela Alvarez, a 35- year-old recently naturalized citizen. “I’ve waited 20 years for this day. I feel such a sense of relief and like this is a new opportunity to follow my dreams.”
“SF Pathways has done something unique in San Francisco by making citizenship accessible to all eligible green card holders, regardless of their income,” said Richard Whipple, acting director of the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. “We encourage community members to take advantage of the free resources available to them, including help paying the citizenship application fee. We also hope that newly naturalized citizens take this opportunity to exercise their right to vote, run for public office, and continue with their countless contributions to San Francisco.”
Applicants in San Francisco can get help covering the cost of the application through the City’s partnership with local non-profit organization Mission Asset Fund. The City and County of San Francisco provides a 50% match through Mission Asset Fund, for applicants who live, work, or attend school in San Francisco. Applicants can use the 50% match to pay the filing fee for naturalization or other immigration benefits including Temporary Protected Status (TPS), U visas for crime victims, family petitions, or renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Funded by the City and local foundation partners, the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative has held 64 free workshops across the city, provided legal screenings to over 16,000 immigrants, and saved applicants nearly $1.5 million in application fees. In 2017, the Initiative launched its Lawyers in the Library partnership with the San Francisco Public Library to help applicants apply for citizenship through computer-based workshops. In 2018, it partnered with the San Francisco International Airport to allow employees and their families to apply for citizenship at the airport. SF Pathways also helps connect applicants with English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes through City College of San Francisco and other organizations.
Applicants who are not available to attend the workshop can make an individual appointment with a partner organization at sfcitizenship.org, or leave a message on one of their multilingual hotlines:
- English: 415-662-8901
- Spanish: 415-662-8902
- Chinese: 415-295-5894
- Filipino: 415-692-6798
- Vietnamese: 415-644-8392
- Russian: 415-754-3818
About the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative
The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative was established in 2013 by the late Mayor Edwin M. Lee as a public-private partnership between local foundations and the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) to promote citizenship and civic participation among San Francisco’s naturalization-eligible immigrants.
Learn more: www.sfcitizenship.org
About the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA)
The Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) is a policy, compliance, direct services and grantmaking office. OCEIA’s mission is to promote inclusive policies and foster immigrant assistance programs that lead to full civic, economic and linguistic integration. OCEIA seeks a safe, engaged and inclusive San Francisco where everyone can contribute and thrive.
Learn more: www.sf.gov/oceia