Citizenship for Three Generations!

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Taking the Oath of Allegiance brings an immense amount of relief for hundreds of thousands of immigrants every single year, but the stress surrounding immigration status doesn’t always end there.

Marie*, a Nigerian single mother of three and the primary caretaker of her elderly father, came to an immigration legal clinic in Maryland asking for help with citizenship. As the only person able to work in her family of 5, Marie was struggling to pay for her family’s everyday expenses. She had already taken her Oath of Allegiance a few years before, and her children - who were under the age of 18 at the time – had derived US citizenship. But it’s not as simple as that.

Because her children had derived citizenship and had not had to go through the formal naturalization process, there was no legal proof of their naturalization. While it had not yet become an issue, Marie worried that once her children turned 18, they would need proof of citizenship for various applications and certifications that they wanted to pursue.

Woman looking strongly into the camera

To fix this, Marie would have to apply for her children’s naturalization certificates. At $1,170 each, Marie had to come up with $3,510 plus attorney fees just to prove that her children were US citizens. The cost was astronomical to her, and something that she simply could not afford.

Marie’s father also qualified for US citizenship, but the $725 application fee and additional attorney fees once again stopped her from pursuing this path. Managing Attorney of Maryland and DC, Sarah Selim Milad, met with Marie to hear her story and find a way to help Marie’s children and her father. With help from volunteers and a generous grant from the Presbyterian Church, Sarah was able to successfully petition for fee waivers for all three naturalization certificates and begin the naturalization process for Marie’s father. Marie no longer has to worry about providing proof of her children’s’ citizenship and is helping prepare her father for his naturalization interview.

*Names changed for privacy purposes.

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