SAN FRANCISCO – In celebration of the 10th anniversary of its citizenship collaborative, San Francisco is launching a series of events to encourage eligible green card holders to take advantage of the free resources available to apply for citizenship.
On Monday, October 23, 2023, San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and City leaders will honor the more than 11,000 people who have become U.S. citizens through the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative. The celebration kicks off a month of activities, including the relaunch of an online citizenship clinic at the San Francisco Public Library on October 24; a free in-person, appointment-based workshop to help people apply for citizenship on November 4; and the launch of a new survey of civic engagement among naturalized citizens.
“Applying for citizenship can be intimidating and daunting, especially if you're navigating the process as an English learner,” said San Francisco City Administrator Carmen Chu. “The Pathways to Citizenship Initiative has helped to break down those very real barriers for thousands of San Franciscans and I am thankful to celebrate this milestone anniversary with the program staff and volunteers.”
“Since its inception in 2013, the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative has helped more than 11,000 immigrants in the Bay Area become U.S. citizens, ” said Anni Chung, president and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, the Initiative’s lead organization. “We are thrilled to be celebrating 10 years of this amazing initiative due largely in part to the hard work of all our non-profit, City, and foundation partners as well as the large network of volunteers. We applaud their dedication to helping out their fellow San Franciscans. But more importantly, we are so proud of everyone who has taken the step to become naturalized citizens.”
Olga Romero, who came to the United States from Colombia 23 years ago, said she was proud to finally take the step of becoming a U.S. citizen. “I feel very proud to be a citizen of this country today and to give the best of myself as an immigrant,” she said. “I arrived in this country full of dreams. It has been a roller coaster, but the United States will always be the country of opportunities for me and my family.”
“San Francisco Pathways has had an exceptional impact in strengthening the sense of belonging for many. SF Pathways makes becoming a U.S. citizen accessible, affordable and simple,” said Jorge Rivas, director of the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and secretary of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. “As we celebrate our dedicated partners, community volunteers and all the new citizens, we look to the future and encourage our residents to take advantage of the opportunities SF Pathways has to offer to become citizens. And to all those who have naturalized, we encourage you to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with being a citizen: exercising your right to vote, running for office, staying civically engaged, all to make a difference in your communities.”
Applicants in San Francisco can get help covering the cost of the application through the City’s partnership with local non-profit organization Mission Asset Fund. The City and County of San Francisco provides a 50% match through Mission Asset Fund, for applicants who live, work, or attend school in San Francisco. Applicants can use the 50% match to pay the filing fee for naturalization or other immigration benefits including Temporary Protected Status (TPS), U visas for crime victims, family petitions, or renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Funded by the City and local foundation partners, the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative has held 69 free workshops across the city, provided legal screenings to over 17,000 immigrants, and saved applicants over $5 million in application fees. In 2017, the Initiative launched its Lawyers in the Library partnership with the San Francisco Public Library to help applicants apply for citizenship through computer-based workshops. In 2018, it partnered with the San Francisco International Airport to allow employees and their families to apply for citizenship at the airport. SF Pathways also helps connect applicants with English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes through City College of San Francisco and other organizations.
For more information about the free citizenship workshop on November 4, 2023, go to: sfcitizenship.org. To make an appointment, applicants can leave a message on one of their multilingual hotlines:
- English: 415-662-8901
- Spanish: 415-662-8902
- Chinese: 415-295-5894
- Filipino: 415-498-0735
- Vietnamese: 415-644-8392
- Russian: 415-754-3818
About the Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA)
The Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) is a policy, compliance, direct services and grantmaking office. OCEIA’s mission is to promote inclusive policies and foster immigrant assistance programs that lead to full civic, economic and linguistic inclusion. OCEIA seeks a safe, engaged and inclusive San Francisco where everyone can contribute and thrive.
Learn more: sf.gov/oceia
About the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative
The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative was established in 2013 by the late Mayor Edwin M. Lee as a public-private partnership between local foundations and the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) to promote citizenship and civic participation among San Francisco’s naturalization-eligible immigrants. The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative partners include:
- Self-Help for the Elderly (lead agency)
- Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach
- Immigration Institute of the Bay Area
- Jewish Family and Children’s Services
- Jubilee Immigration Advocates
- La Raza Community Resource Center
- We RISE SF
Learn more: sfcitizenship.org