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Immigrant to Citizen

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announces the launch of NaturalizeNY, a public-private partnership to assist eligible immigrants in New York State. (Photo credit: Cuomo Flickr page)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 21, 2016) – Rey Koslowski is helping pave the path to citizenship for immigrants living in New York state.

An associate professor at Rockefeller College, Koslowski, along with researchers from Stanford and George Mason University, are teaming up with the New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) in the nation’s first public-private partnership to promote U.S. citizenship — known as “NaturalizeNY.”

The program, which was first announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, operates through 27 neighborhood-based opportunity centers to help speed the naturalization process through eligibility screenings, application assistance, naturalization exam preparation, and a lottery system for 2,000 low-income citizenship-eligible immigrants to receive application fee waivers.

“Usually we say that naturalization leads to a lot of changes — people end up making more money and doing better in life, and becoming more politically active — but there is little in the way of concrete social science research to substantiate or call into question such common positions. And that’s what we will get through this study,” Koslowski said.

Koslowski said he’s been working with his colleagues, and state officials, for more than a year to develop the lottery system and project’s website.

Immigrant_300
Rey Koslowski, associate professor at Rockefeller College.

To cover the 2,000 fee assistance waivers, New York State, the Robin Hood Foundation and the New York Community Trust are investing more than $1.2 million. The funding, paid directly to the federal government by the campaign partners, will cover the entire naturalization application.

According to the U.S. Census, more than half a million people are eligible for citizenship in NYC alone, and over 900,000 in the state total. However, the fee for an application is currently $680 and expected to rise again this year - a main reason many of these individuals have not yet applied.

“The New York State Office for New Americans and its Opportunity Center network look forward to using its resources to assist our state’s vast immigrant community to become part of the family of New York,” said Laura González-Murphy, director of the ONA and Rockefeller College alumna (Ph.D ’09). “We want to thank our partners in this endeavor for their commitment to bringing this opportunity to those who wish to fulfill their American dream.”

Prospective applicants can determine their eligibility for both citizenship and the lottery system on www.NaturalizeNY.org. For more information, call 1-800-566-7636.

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