Between 2000 and 2012, the rate of growth in Tennessee’s foreign-born population was the third fastest in the country. TIRRC is the only organization in Tennessee with the capacity to reach large numbers of eligible LPRs, assist them in obtaining their citizenship, and facilitate their ongoing participation in the civic process. In new destination states like Tennessee, where immigrant communities are smaller and more isolated, eligible LPRs tend to be harder to reach and recruit than in states with more established immigrant communities. This is especially true outside of major cities. Naturalization work is far more challenging in smaller towns and rural areas. What this means for us is that an effective naturalization program must necessarily include a number of ancillary activities to find eligible LPRs and educate them about the importance of citizenship and civic engagement (outreach through member organizations and educational events, use of ethnic media, etc). This essentially raises the cost of providing naturalization services in this context.
TIRRC conducted its first naturalization workshop in 2007 and has expanded its work in this area slowly but steadily over the past three years, partly in response to increasing demand and partly as a matter of organizational priority as we have come to understand citizenship as a key component of TIRRC’s broader integration efforts. Services we currently provide:
- Naturalization workshops – staff and trained volunteers conduct one-day workshops where participants receive step-by-step assistance in a group setting and complete the N-400 on site
- Partnerships with member organizations – member organizations provide citizenship preparation classes, one-on-one assistance, and support with TIRRC’s workshops
- Individual assistance – staff provide one-on-one assistance with the N-400 (currently on a very limited scale)
- Application follow-up – staff conduct individual follow-ups 2-3 months after the submission of the N-400 and provide additional support and/or referral as needed
- Post-naturalization engagement – staff and trained volunteers attend naturalization ceremonies, register new citizens to vote, maintain regular contact with former participants and encourage their participation in ongoing campaigns and leadership development opportunities
Through the National Partnership for New Americans, TIRRC as well as other 11 other largest immigrant advocacy organizations in the country have combined their vast resources and collective reach and experience in order to launch Become a Citizen Now!, a one-stop, free resource for people nationwide to access information about the naturalization process and even assist eligible residents to naturalize by hosting Citizenship Assistance Workshops.
At our Citizenship Assistance Workshops we help immigrant families fulfill their American Dream of becoming citizens, opening the doors for civic participation and political rights. Our Citizenship Workshop program helps legal permanent residents qualified to become citizens receive assistance from volunteer attorneys, law students and community members to apply for Naturalization at no cost for the service. These workshops take place in different areas all across Tennessee, where the service is needed the most.
If you are not in Tennessee but still are interested in becoming a Citizen, click here to meet the Partners who are organizing New Americans and providing citizenship services in states across the country.