Project Citizenship began as the Greater Boston Citizenship Initative, a collaboration of community partners in Massachusetts seeking to increase naturalization rates in Massachusetts. The initiative was created by a committed group of immigrant, community-based, and direct service organizations to educate immigrants about the benefits of citizenship and to provide the services and resources necessary for eligible legal permanent residents (LPRs) to overcome the barriers to naturalization.
Project Citizenship’s mission is to educate immigrants about the benefits of citizenship, and to help eligible, legal permanent residents to overcome barriers to naturalization.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, only 20,000 of the eligible 30,000 LPRs became citizens in Massachusetts each of the last ten years. Each year, an estimated 10,000 LPRs in Massachusetts who are eligible to become U.S. citizens do not apply for citizenship. Currently, there are approximately 40,000 LPRs in Boston who are eligible to become U.S. citizens, but have not completed the process.
The significant number of eligible persons not becoming U.S. citizens is at odds with the benefits of obtaining such status. Citizenship confers important rights, including eligibility for certain federal jobs, federal grants and scholarships, and other federal public benefits. But most importantly, citizenship helps build stronger, more united communities by encouraging civic participation, engagement, and a more representational government. Naturalized immigrants are voting in increasing numbers.
Project Citizenship provides free assistance to legal permanent residents who seek to become U.S. citizens. Project Citizenship and its partner organizations offer regular citizenship workshops in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In addition, Project Citizenship partner organizations civics and English instruction.
At its frequent citizenship workshops, Project Citizenship assists eligible LPRs to complete citizenship applications. Project Citizenship provides screening, advice, legal guidance, referrals and materials needed to successfully complete the citizenship application. Project Citizenship also provides materials to help applicants pass their citizenship tests, and to later become fully integrated and engaged U.S. citizens. At these workshops, immigration lawyers, Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives, law students and other trained volunteers screen applicants for eligibility, make needed referrals and guide applicants through the entire application process
Citizenship Days are similar to our workshops but are held on a much larger scale, in conjunction with local and state elected officials. At least three times per year, Project Citizenship focuses on one city or geographic area for a Citizenship Day event. The first Citizenship Day, hosted in September 2014 brought together partners Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Office of New Bostonians, the Boston Department of Health and Human Services, and the Boston Centers for Youth & Families. There was an unparalleled team of 25 pro bono attorneys from Godwin Procter who participated in the event. Multiple media partners, including Univision, Clear Channel and Telemundo, came together to encourage and assist eligible legal permanent residents to apply for citizenship. Thousands learned about the benefits of citizenship. Hundreds of applicants registered for the first Citizenship Day. More than one hundred applicants started their path to citizenship on September 20. The next Citizenship Day is March 14, 2015 in the town of Framingham. For more information, click here.
Since 2011, Project Citizenship has had tremendous success. Project Citizenship and its community partners have:
- Hosted more than 100 group processing workshops, each with between 10 and 150
- Assisted in completing and filing over 6,150 citizenship applications.
- Served over 2,000 individuals through civics and citizenship classes.
- Provided legal services and referrals to over 1,000
- Reached more than 10,000 Massachusetts residents with information about the benefits of citizenship.
- Trained over 80 agency staff members to enhance services to the community.
Project Citizenship invites all legal permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship, think they might be eligible OR would like more information about future naturalization opportunities to call and register for an event. Visit our home page to see upcoming events!