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For Immediate Release:
April 29, 2014
Contact: 518-486-9846
info.ny.gov
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NYS OFFICE FOR NEW AMERICANS AND CITI COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT LAUNCH PILOT PROGRAM TO ASSIST ELIGIBLE LOW-TO-MODERATE INCOME IMMIGRANTS ON LONG ISLAND BECOME U.S. CITIZENS

Features Access to Unique Micro-Loans and Financial Literacy Training to Help with the
Costs of the Naturalization Application and the Evaluation of Foreign Degrees and Certifications

Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales and Citi Community Development today announced the launch of Pathway to Citizenship LI, a pilot program that will help low-to-moderate income lawful permanent resident immigrants in Long Island apply for U.S. Citizenship. The program features access to a micro-loan and financial literacy training for those who do not qualify for a fee waiver and are unable to pay the $680 cost of the naturalization application. The micro loan may also cover the cost of evaluating foreign degrees and certifications for high-skilled immigrants.

This unique public-private partnership is led by Citi Community Development, the New York State Office for New Americans, the New York State Department of Labor, Bethpage Federal Credit Union, the Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN), and the United Way of Long Island. The effort expands on the naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals assistance offered by the New York State Office for New Americans.

“I applaud Citi Community Development and all local and community partners involved for finding such an innovative way to assist New Americans on Long Island on their path to citizenship and to a viable economic future,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. “This pilot program will ensure that eligible Long Island immigrants are able to take full advantage of the civic and economic benefits of citizenship and leverage the education they earned in their place of origin.”

"Citi Community Development is proud to join New York State and our other partners to bring Pathway to Citizenship to Long Island," said Eileen Auld NY Tri-State Market Director, Citi Community Development. “This innovative and collaborative approach to citizenship will enable legal permanent residents to take full advantage of everything America has to offer.”

Citi Community Development is investing $145,000 into the Pathway to Citizenship LI program to prepare lawful permanent resident immigrants on Long Island to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Through the program, community partner CARECEN will provide naturalization legal assistance and civics education.

The federal government estimates that nearly one million lawful permanent resident in New York State are eligible but have not yet become U.S. citizens. According to the Migration Policy Institute, naturalized citizens earn between 50-70 percent more than non-citizens, have higher employment rates, and are less likely to live below the poverty line.

Meanwhile, high-skilled immigrants serve an important role in New York State’s innovation industries. The Immigration Policy Center found almost 53 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates from New York State’s research-intensive universities in 2009 were foreign-born, and almost 70 percent of graduates earning PhDs in engineering in the State were not born in the U.S. Over 65 percent of patents at Cornell University in 2011 had at least one foreign-born inventor. According to IMPRINT, a coalition of organizations active in the emerging field of immigrant professional integration, more than 3.2 million high-skilled immigrant professionals across the U.S. are unemployed or work in jobs far below their capacity. In New York State, nearly 200,000 immigrants fit into this category.

Bethpage Federal Credit Union will provide bi-lingual financial literacy training (English and Spanish) to program participants. Program participants will be encouraged to enter the mainstream banking system; create asset building accounts for future savings; create and maintain a good credit history. Participants will be eligible to apply for consumer credit and micro-loans for naturalization with Bethpage Federal Credit Union. Loan interest rates will be set based on the individual’s credit history and offered as an unsecured credit facility. United Way of Long Island will assist in delivering the training and providing participant one-on-one personal finance coaching.

The Pathway to Citizenship LI also features assistance for high-skilled immigrants through the process of re-credentialing a foreign degree or certification that an immigrant may bring to this country. Not having a recognized degree or certificate prevents these professionals from successfully re-entering their prior career field in the U.S. Through its Immigrant Workforce Counselor program, the New York State Department of Labor will help navigate the re-credentialing process. Bethpage Federal Credit Union will extend its consumer credit and micro-loans for naturalization to also cover the costs of evaluating foreign degrees and certifications for high-skilled immigrants. In addition, the Oyster Bay-North Hempstead-Glen Cove Workforce Investment Board will use federal funds to cover the re-credentialing costs for those individuals who reside in the consortium area.

The New York State Office for New Americans and other community partners will provide community outreach assistance and referrals to other immigrant integration and employment services. For more information about this program and to register, please visit the New York State Office for New Americans website at www.newamericans.ny.gov or call CARECEN at 516-489-8330.

State Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera said, “New York State has made it a priority to help connect workers to available jobs. By streamlining processes for immigrants, this program is essential to breaking down a barrier many have to a career so they can support their family and their community.

"Long Island has the largest suburban immigrant community in the country,” said Patrick Young, Esq., CARECEN Program Director. “This project will help create a culture of citizenship in this growing and economically vibrant population."

“Bethpage is very pleased to participate in this important educational program which will surely benefit many of Long Island’s deserving residents in need of assistance,” said Robert Suarez, Assistant Vice President, Bethpage Federal Credit Union. “Bethpage is committed to supporting the communities in which it serves and that includes financial education for a better future. Bethpage has bilingual branches, including one in Hempstead which is looking forward to working closely with the residents to help them build savings accounts and create and maintain a good credit standing.”

“The United Way of Long Island welcomes the opportunity to help families achieve financial stability,” said Craig Fligstein, VP, Grant Development, United Way of Long Island. “We will provide the tools needed to help families to establish or rebuild credit, reduce debt and help families establish realistic financial goals, such as saving for a home, retirement and their children's college education. The program will connect families to money-saving programs such as EITC, VITA, FAFSA assistance, Project Warmth home heating grants, and other programs which will help them to build and save for a brighter financial future.”

“By providing the necessary education and financial assistance required for the naturalization process, The Pathway to Citizenship LI program offers an excellent opportunity for positive gains in the socioeconomic status of the Village of Hempstead community,” said Village of Hempstead Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. “The Village of Hempstead has a significant permanent resident immigrant population and due to language and cultural barriers, it can often be a daunting task for most immigrant families to gain access to the necessary resources to make their transition to United States much easier.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo established the New York State Office for New Americans to assist newcomers in the State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York. The cornerstone of the Office is the creation of a network of 27 neighborhood-based Opportunity Centers throughout the State to support New Americans to learn English, become naturalized U.S. citizens, receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and receive free legal advice and other opportunities. More than 34,000 immigrants were assisted by the Office for New Americans during its first year of operations.

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