Philippines – a really good country but with the current economic and life status here, many people tend to go abroad to work and stay there. It’s understandable since as we all know it, life is a bit harsh here both financial and opportunity wise. Those who move over are called “immigrants.”
Do you know what the difference is between an immigrant, a citizen and a permanent resident? Well don’t worry, before we tackle the free workshop, let us first take a look at all three (3) for us to know where we stand and what your rights are as a person who lives abroad especially in the United States.
As we mentioned these are people who resides to a specific country and settle there. There are two types of immigrants: a lawful permanent resident and an undocumented immigrant.
Undocumented immigrants are those who neither have a valid legal visa to stay nor a green card which serves like a pass giving permission for a person to live in the U.S. for as long as he/she wants. While on the contrary, a lawful permanent resident has a green card and is allowed to stay for how long they want.
But I know what you’re thinking, what’s the difference between a permanent resident and a U.S citizen? Well I know they might sound the same, but the difference lie in the responsibility and benefit they have. Before we go to the free workshop being offered. Let’s first take a look at why some wants to get a citizenship status and not just a green card.
Let’s first check what both status have in common. A green card holder and U.S. Citizen are both entitled to the following:
- Can rental or ownership of a property in the United States
- They can have a driver’s license
- Go to public schools and colleges
- Get bank accounts
- Get a social security number
Now for the benefits and responsibility of a green card holder:
- You can apply visas for your wife or husband as same as with unmarried children to live in the U.S
- You are eligible to get social security benefits and medicare benefits
- Serve in certain branches of the U.S Military
- Able to get federal benefits
- You can travel outside the U.S. Less than a year of travel is okay but if its more than, it might hurt your green card status.
And for those who are U.S citizens or naturalized:
- Run for office in a public election
- You can vote in all types of election (local, state and federal)
- Unlike green card holders, you can get visas for your brothers, sisters, as well as their immediate relatives – you also don’t have to wait in line to get a visa.
- If you have a child and is born in the U.S., they are automatically citizens as well.
- Travel outside of the U.S. with a U.S. passport. Many countries won’t need to get a visa from you if you are travelling with a U.S. Passport. Also, in any case that you encounter any problems while travelling, you can get help or assistance from the U.S. embassy.
- Apply for certain federal jobs – Take note that federal agencies require applicants to be a U.S. citizen
Why do some people don’t apply for a U.S. citizenship?
Some of the reasons why other immigrants or fellow Filipinos don’t want to get a U.S. citizenship is that they don’t want to lose the right to vote in the Philippines, and others just don’t want to go through the trouble of the long process of the naturalization.
Now, why should they? What’s the impact overall?
Filipinos who reside in the states should still apply for citizenship according to Robert Uy, who is a Filipino American community leader. He said,
Everyone who permanently resides in the United States should apply for citizenship,” urged the partner of the Uy Law Group based in South San Francisco. “Filipinos can retain their dual citizenship if they naturalize. Some benefits of naturalization include: the ability to vote, the ability to hold office, the ability to live abroad indefinitely; the ability to hold certain government jobs; and protection from deportation.”
Uy also stated the impact of having a citizenship on family reunification.
It is much faster for citizens to petition their spouses and children under the age of 21. They can also petition their parents or fiancées unlike legal permanent residents,” he said, with a caveat: “The most important is protection from deportation. In this current political climate citizenship will help protect you from removal from this country. LPRs (legal permanent residents) can easily be found removable for drug crimes, domestic violence and other serious violent crime convictions.”
So, those are some of the things you need to know whether to decide if you want be naturalized as a citizen or not.
Now, if you decide to push through with it and you’re having problems with the process as well, here is the good part, San Francisco State University has offered help and free workshop to those who want to apply and be naturalized as a U.S. citizen.
When is the workshop going to take place?
As, we mentioned it will take place at San Francisco State University on April 27. It will start from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Mashouf Wellness Center. No appointments are needed, you just need to walk in to participate in the event.
What will be discussed?
Those who attend the event will undergo the step by step review of the naturalization process which includes:
- They will assess your eligibility to naturalize
- Application preparation and documents needed, if eligible to naturalize
- They will try to review your application with the help of an immigration attorney or a qualified legal representative
- They will also access financial assistance and community resources
What do you need to bring?
Those who want to apply needs to bring the following documents:
- Green card and passports (current and expired ones)
- List of all your addresses, work and schooling (for the last 5 years)
- List of all your trips outside the states (for the last 5 years)
- Info on current spouse, all prior marriages and all children
- All arrest and court documents, even expunged records and dropped charges
- For male applicants: For those between the ages of 18 and 26, you need to get an evidence of Selective Service registration.
Do take note that yes, the assistance is free, but you still need to pay $725 to cover the application filing fee. Payment can be made by money or check to the “US Department of Homeland Security”. If you are 70 years old and over, you only need to pay $640. Others, may also qualify for a fee waiver if they written proof that they are receiving public benefits like :
- Medi-cal, food stamps or Cal-Fresh
- WIC Women, Infants and Children Special Supplemental nutrition program
- General Assistance
- Cash Aid
But, if you don’t qualify for a fee waiver, fret not, you can still get 50% off the application cost as long as you present a valid ID, checking account info such as bank statement or letter, voided check, and proof of income such as 2 months of pay stubs or 3 months worth of bank statements.
Those are the things that you’ll be needing and best of luck to everyone who is going to apply for naturalization/citizenship.