GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (May 13, 2013) — In honor of Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC), a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, is providing a free citizenship workshop for the Chinese-American community in Irvine from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2013. The workshop will be held at theSouth Coast Chinese Cultural Association/Irvine Chinese School at 9 Truman, Irvine, CA 92620.
At the citizenship workshop, APALC staff, pro bono attorneys, and trained volunteers will help individuals complete the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and assess eligibility for various waivers. In addition to filing out N-400s, APALC will also introduce and utilize a new on-line tool, CitizenshipWorks, to help Chinese-speaking applicants assess their eligibility and fill out N-400s on their own.
CitizenshipWorks (www.citizenshipworks.org) was created by the Immigration Advocate Network (IAN) and provides free, easy-to-use on-line tools to help individuals understand their eligibility for naturalization, learn about the naturalization process, find legal help, and prepare for the naturalization tests. This tool was not available in Chinese until a few months ago.
“APALC believes that citizenship is integral to civically engaging our communities,” said APALC President and Executive Director Stewart Kwoh. “We want to ensure that the citizenship process is accessible to as many immigrants as possible.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, as of 2011, there are approximately 8.5 million legal permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship, of whom nearly 2 million are Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and 260,000 are of Chinese descent.
“This is a very exciting new endeavor for us as it will be the first such workshop in Orange County devoted to the Chinese-American community,” said Tammy Peng, APALC staff attorney based in the Orange County office. The 2010 U.S. Census indicates that Orange County is home to close to 80,000 ethnic Chinese, the third largest Asian population in the county.
Applicants who complete the N-400 at the workshop will receive a free copy of Citizenship 101: Your Guide to Citizenship, a comprehensive guide to becoming a U.S. citizen. In addition, a free DVD about the citizenship process and a list of 100 study questions will also be given to applicants who complete the workshop. The DVD is available in Mandarin, Cantonese and English.
APALC encourages the public to attend the citizenship workshop. Appointments are strongly recommended and can be made by calling APALC’s Chinese hotline at (800) 520-2356. Appointments may be made up to the day before the workshop. Walk-ins will be served on a first-come, first-serve basis, and are not guaranteed same-day services.
Generally, in order to naturalize, an individual must:
• Be at least 18 years old
• Be a permanent resident (“green card holder”)
• Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years as a permanent resident
• Have been physically present in the United States for at least two and a half years
• Demonstrate good moral character
• Have a basic understanding of U.S. government and history
• Be able to understand, speak, read and write basic English.
Individuals who are interested in more information in citizenship can view APALC’s video,Citizenship 101: Your Guide to Citizenship by going to www.apalc.org.