Tri-City Herald: Group holds Citizenship Day in Pasco to help Green Card holders

PASCO - An immigration advocacy group is holding its semi-annual Citizenship Day today, Oct. 18, to help legal permanent residents wade through naturalization paperwork.

The group is offering a free legal clinic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Columbia Basin College's Center for Career and Technical Education in Pasco.

The event, one of four organized throughout the state, is expected to draw a long line of people interested in fulfilling their dream of becoming a United States citizen.

"A big barrier to citizenship is the (Form N-400). A lot of people who particularly don't speak English as a first language find it daunting to fill out," said Pavan Vangipuram, spokesman for the Seattle-based nonprofit OneAmerica.

People who attend the workshop will get paired with a pro bono attorney to first determine if they're eligible for citizenship and, if so, get individualized help with the documents.

Legal permanent resident is the legal term for a Green Card holder. There is a long list of qualifications to advance in the process, like living in the U.S. for five years and having good moral character.

Vangipuram said Washington has more than 180,000 legal permanent residents who are eligible for naturalization, but for whatever reason haven't taken the final step. A common barrier is the application fee is about $700, though some people are eligible for a fee waiver, he said.

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