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New Online Resource Provides Free Citizenship Help

CitizenshipWorks Leverages Technology to Help Low-Income Immigrants

 
PRLog - Aug. 16, 2011 - NEW YORK -- A new online resource is providing low-income immigrants with critical tools and information about the naturalization process.  

CitizenshipWorks (http://www.citizenshipworks.org) provides free, easy-to-use online tools to help individuals answer questions about their eligibility for naturalization, to better understand the naturalization process, and to prepare for the naturalization tests. The site, which is currently available in both English and Spanish, is now being piloted in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, with plans underway for national expansion. An estimated 8 million immigrants across the U.S. are eligible for naturalization, but many don’t understand the process and can’t afford to hire a lawyer.  

CitizenshipWorks was developed by the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), a collaborative effort of leading immigrants’ rights organizations, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, an IAN partner and national nonprofit that works to advance immigrants’ rights.  It leverages a technology platform developed by Pro Bono Net, a national nonprofit that works to increase access to justice, which is used to support broad-based networks of legal aid, civil rights and pro bono lawyers.  CitizenshipWorks was developed with support from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and The Grove Foundation.

Visitors to CitizenshipWorks have access to:
•   An interactive online interview to help individuals to understand their eligibility for naturalization;
•   A self-paced online tutorial that explains the naturalization process step-by-step;
•   An online tutorial to help applicants prepare for the naturalization tests; and
•   Links to important online resources and information about citizenship and naturalization.

“Having a one-stop, easy-to-use source of reliable information and tools will make a big difference in helping legal permanent residents to take the next steps to becoming citizens,” said Eric Cohen, Executive Director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. “CitizenshipWorks provides an accessible starting point for those who don’t know where to turn to begin the naturalization process.”

“CitizenshipWorks is a good example of how technology can be used to overcome legal barriers,” said Mark O’Brien, Executive Director of Pro Bono Net.  “By putting critical information and self-help tools online, CitizenshipWorks greatly expands the number of people who will be able to access help navigating this complex process.”

"Until now, there hasn’t been a dedicated website with online screening tools to ensure that applicants have what they need before they apply," said Manuel J. Santamaria, grantmaking director at Silicon Valley Community Foundation. "We are pleased that there are plans to replicate CitizenshipWorks nationally and extend the model to more applicants and immigration legal services providers.”

In addition to enabling individuals to find legal information and resources on the naturalization process, CitizenshipWorks is also being used by immigration legal services organizations seeking to assist more clients. These organizations can access online tools to assist in the N-400 application process via a separate, password-protected area of CitizenshipWorks. Early adopters include the Center for Employment Training in San Jose and the International Institute of the Bay Area in Redwood City.

“At a time when legal services organizations are facing drastic funding declines, CitizenshipWorks can help them to operate more effectively and efficiently, ultimately allowing more people to receive help,” said Matthew Burnett of the Immigration Advocates Network. “Our goal is to both increase access to information and resources for low-income immigrants as well as to provide innovative online tools to help organizations meet the increasing demand for legal services.”

# # #

Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) is a collaborative effort of leading immigrants’ rights organizations designed to increase access to justice for low-income immigrants. IAN promotes more effective and efficient communication and collaboration among immigration advocates and organizations by providing free, easily accessible and comprehensive online resources and tools for advocates. IAN’s partners include the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, American Bar Association Commission on Immigration, American Immigration Council, American Immigration Lawyers Association, ASISTA, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Immigration Law Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, Pro Bono Net, and the Advocates for Human Rights.

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