Citizenship Day


CARECEN has been helping immigrants apply for citizenship for nearly two decades.

This Saturday, April 20, CARECEN and the Hofstra Immigration Law Clinic will hold a Citizenship Day at the offices of the Long Island Civic Engagement Table located at 1090 Suffolk Avenue in Brentwood. From 9:15AM until 3:00PM, we will be conducting free orientation sessions on applying for citizenship and providing free help in filling out the application for citizenship. The event is being supported by students from Touro Law School and by Make the Road New York.

With Citizenship Day coming up, I thought it would be a good time to review the requirements and prerequisites for applying for citizenship.

The first requirement for applying for citizenship is that an immigrant must be a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), also known as a “green-card holder”. Generally, you must be an LPR for five years before you can qualify for citizenship. Any time spent in the U.S. legally before becoming an LPR usually does not count towards the five-year requirement.

Not all green card holders have to wait five years to become citizens. Exceptions include spouses of U.S. citizens and members of the military – their wait times are substantially less.

The second requirement is that the immigrant must show “Good Moral Character,” meaning he or she must not have any serious criminal convictions, must have paid taxes, and must have supported his or her children.

The immigrant is also required to know how to read, write and speak English. He or she must demonstrate knowledge of American history and civics by passing an examination, as well as show loyalty to the United States and support the Constitution.

Students from Hofstra and Touro Law Schools, under the supervision of licensed attorneys, will be available to help today’s immigrants become tomorrow’s citizens and voters.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.