(Washington, DC) – Today, as part of Fair Shot February, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new element to the partnership between DC Government and the National Immigration Forum that will provide financial support to District residents going through the naturalization process. In November 2017, Mayor Bowser partnered with the Forum’s New American Workforce — a project that works with employers to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process — to host monthly citizenship workshops, seminars, and individual legal consults for government employees seeking citizenship; this programming will continue monthly throughout 2019. Today, the Mayor announced that the Forum will receive $100,000 to provide financial support to government employees, contractors, their families, and constituents who participate in these workshops and then decide to seek citizenship; this grant represents the largest such government fund in the nation.
“Together, we’re giving more immigrants in our community a fair shot at citizenship,” said Mayor Bowser. “This grant builds on the work we have done through our Immigrant Justice Legal Services grant program and through the monthly citizenship workshops; it’s an example of how we can work together as a community and use local resources to break down barriers to citizenship.”
The filing fee to naturalize, combined with the potential expenses of English language classes, attorneys, and time away from work, can make the naturalization a process a costly experience and can serve as a barrier to citizenship. This new fund will provide up to $725 per person for full funding of the application and biometric fees.
“This fund will help new Americans reach their full potential as US citizens, and all District residents will benefit because of its positive effects on the community and economy,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “We are proud to partner with Mayor Bowser on this initiative that’s a win-win for Washington, DC, businesses and employees alike.”
The money will be made available on a first come, first served basis and will only be available to participants of the New American Workforce workshops, hosted through the District government or private employers. At these monthly workshops, experienced immigration professionals provide an introduction to the citizenship process, explain eligibility requirements, and discuss the benefits of citizenship. The next workshop, hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs, is on Friday, February 22 at noon at the Reeves Center (2000 14th Street, NW).