If you visit our Immigration Services area, you’ll see paperwork – a lot of careful, detailed, organized paperwork. But every file has a story – a person, a family, a new life, a new citizen.
Navigating the United States immigration system can be quite challenging, which is why New American Pathways’ work goes far beyond refugee resettlement. Our Immigration Team also provides low-cost or no-cost immigration legal services for asylees and other immigrants, offering various services ranging from Green Cards to naturalization (U.S. citizenship) to petitions for family reunification. We also help eligible new Americans request waivers of the application fees, allowing many to receive immigration benefits that would otherwise be unattainable.
“A lot of people are eager to become American citizens during this day and age.” says Claudia Villa, our Cuban Education Services AmeriCorps Member. Claudia has spent her year of service focused on the Cuban and El Salvadorian population in Georgia, primarily helping them to complete work permits and navigate health care.
Last month, as part of our immigration team, she supported an all-day citizenship workshop co-sponsored by New American Pathways and the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO). The event, part of a nation-wide effort to encourage citizenship called the New Americans Campaign, was very successful as over 100 people came in for assistance with their citizenship applications.
“It was a terrific community partnership,” explained Claudia. The Mexican Consulate offered their space, GALEO handled advertising, Oak Grove UMC lent their chairs and a volunteer workforce even joined staff that day, including immigration attorneys, seasoned and first-time volunteers, and translators.
Everyone who came in went through a five-step application process. First, volunteers confirmed their eligibility to apply for citizenship. If they were not eligible, we helped them with their next steps. Those who were eligible, filled out an application with an immigration attorney or experienced volunteer and completed a fee waiver application, if eligible. Next, all paperwork was reviewed by a staff member to ensure accuracy. Finally, attendees stopped by an exit table for any referral information or for more information about our other immigration services.
All of that paperwork, processing and resulting citizenship is the culmination of a long journey for a refugee or other new American who has rebuilt their life here in America.
And, when we can reunite family members who have been separated, the story is truly complete.
Recently, our team was able to help a Columbian family with their re-unification process by helping secure visas for the mother and daughter.
Finally together for the first time since 2013, they reached out to our team to say thank you:
For those who are interested, you can find information about future workshops on our website at: http://newamericanpathways.org/what-we-do/pathways-citizenship/