The federal government is working to make the process of attaining US citizenship more personable in the Philadelphia area by holding informal question-and-answer forums in neighborhoods with high populations of immigrants, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The Southwest Philadelphia branch of the African Cultural Alliance of North America (ACANA), which supports African and Caribbean immigrants all over the US, hosted a recent forum with representatives from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The agency has held two similar forums in the last year, with the most recent event attracting approximately 15 immigrants.
The office’s goal is to provide helpful immigration information where people feel more comfortable. Normally, these resources are only available at federal immigration headquarters, a building that reportedly tends to scare away many who are not legal residents for fear getting deported.
Representatives from USCIS aided legal immigrants with tips about the civic and language portion of the citizenship test. Some helped two young women who had recently discovered that they were illegal immigrants after growing up in the US since they were infants.
According to USCIS, a person may be eligible for naturalization if he or she has been a permanent resident for at least five years, served in the armed forces, or is a spouse of a US citizen.