Several prominent technology companies in California’s Silicon Valley have banded together to voice their support for an overhaul of the immigration system. Many technological and engineering companies in the U.S. hire workers from other countries because those workers have different skill sets than American employees and are generally more experienced with the technology that is being used. Nokia, Technology Credit Union, ABM and DTZ are taking action to help their employees who hold green cards become United States citizens. Many larger companies are not as accustomed to working with nonprofits, which is why these four organizations were chosen to launch the project. The National Immigration Forum is coordinating this effort and estimates there are about 385,000 green card holders that are eligible for naturalization in the U.S.
The Bethlehem Project was created in 2013 to provide funds for services that are available to working immigrants. The four technology giants that have joined the Project want to connect companies that have a large immigrant workforce with local legal assistance. Those legal firms can then help prepare workers to take the citizenship test and complete immigration forms.The Bethlehem Project plans to offer lawful permanent residents who are employed by businesses participating in the project entry into a citizenship information session. They will also receive free legal assistance, and help with citizenship test preparation and submitting applications.
The process for immigrants to find help learning about citizenship requirements can be expensive, and the Bethlehem Project wants to make assistance more accessible for immigrants. Currently, this program to is in use in five cities in the U.S.: Miami, San Diego, San Jose, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. To date, the Bethlehem Project has connected with 50 businesses to help roughly 1,500 immigrants obtain citizenship, and more than a dozen more in Silicon Valley are expected to join the ranks.