SAN FERNANDO : Center Helps Those Seeking Citizenship
A new citizenship center at Los Angeles Mission College is trying to expand its clientele, to not only help people from Latin American countries become U.S. citizens, but to also help those from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, an official with the center said.
The center, which opened in March, had a lot of response from its ads in Spanish-language newspapers and had inquiries from as far away as San Diego, said Alma Jimenez, the citizenship coordinator at the center.
So far, the center has helped 200 people file applications for citizenship.
To apply for citizenship, one must be at least 18, a legal resident of the United States and have a command of English. The center, at the college’s satellite property in San Fernando, has workers who will help the prospective citizens fill out the application forms, learn English and get the fingerprints and photographs that are required by immigration officials.
Applicants can also take the required U.S. history exam at the center instead of with immigration officials.
None of those who applied for citizenship through the center have become citizens yet. The process takes at least a year, Jimenez said.
But getting help in applying is often crucial. Many immigrants become confused and intimidated by the language on the application, she said.
“Legal documents become quite scary to anyone for whom English is a second language,” she said. “Many times the applicants would want to give up because they don’t want to bother.”
The citizenship center is at 1300 San Fernando Road. For information, call (818) 837-2240 or (818) 837-2241. The center charges $55 for the photographs, fingerprints and application.