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Community Focus: Free citizenship classes

(MGN)

A new grant will help hundreds of Oklahomans become US citizens.

People who were born US citizens can often under-estimate how difficult it is to go from legal resident to citizen. The process is time consuming, stressful, and there is a test you must study for. This new grant and partnership means immigrants can get prepared for a test for free.

This massive group effort is set up by Oklahoma City University, Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, The Immigrant Connection, and The Immigration Center. They all received a two-year grant from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to provide these free services to people eligible for citizenship.

There are a list of requirements, including having a green card for three if you are married to a US citizen, or five years if you are not.

“Many people have had green cards for say, 40 years, and they are just scared to go in and take the test.

So, this way we are helping to teach them, and prepare them for the test and let the know what to expect, “says Arlita Harris, Immigration Center at Western Oaks, executive director

The process can take several months with time to prep for an interview and test. The test questions must be answered in English, unless you qualify for an English language exemption. The test is based on a list of 100 civics and US history questions. Oklahoma City University certified students will teach different class levels, while legal aid is helping with more complicated cases

“A lot of them are afraid, and maybe a little bit embarrassed that they might need help with this, but it's ok to come to us,” says Nathan Hedge, pastor at Wesleyan Church.

New student orientation for these free citizenship prep classes is happening soon. January 8th at the Immigration Connection at the May Ave Wesleyan Church, and January 12th at 9:30 am and 1pm at the Immigration Center at Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene.

There are some 200 slots that will be open over the course of the grant. If you cannot speak English, there are free English classes available. Harris and hedge say that immigrants will still need to pay the application fee which is 725-dollars, but these immigration assistance teams can help you figure out if you qualify for a waiver.

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