Get Help Paying Citizenship Costs: New American Loan Program For Twin Cities’ Residents Is Being Featured At Free Naturalization Resource Fairs
By Sandra Rodriguez
To assist immigrant residents with their naturalization process, the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis are offering Naturalization Orientation and Resource Fairs and was featured at no cost to participants, on September 17 at the Arlington Hills Community Center on 1200 Payne Avenue, in St. Paul.
One highlight will be the The New American Loan Program, launched last year by the City of St. Paul and Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union (Affinity Plus) to encourage the nearly 10,000 immigrant and refugee residents living in St. Paul to start the process of becoming naturalized and increasing United States citizenship in the city. Any permanent resident living in St. Paul that is considering applying for U.S. citizenship and would like help to cover the application cost, can contact Affinity Plus by visiting https://www.affinityplus.org/contact-us or by calling 651-312-9747.
Upcoming Naturalization Orientation and Resource Fair will launch a yearlong series to promote naturalization in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The vision is to offer one every month, alternating the cities. The second event will be October 15 in Minneapolis. Anyone can join to learn about the process to apply for U.S. citizenship. Participants can also learn about valuable resources, tools, and programs that can help with their immigration process – including the New American Loan Program offered by Affinity Plus. To obtain more information about the Naturalization Orientation and Resource Fair, including upcoming dates, times and locations, call 651-266-8783.
New American Loan Program NALP offers lawful permanent residents living in St. Paul the opportunity to apply for a no-interest loan of up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of the naturalization process. The loan can be paid over the course of 12-months with funds directly disbursed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The loan application fee is $75, of which $50 will be returned to the applicant once the loan is paid off. This program also supports efforts to ensure all residents have access to financial services, resources, and education.
Last year, St. Paul resident Miguel Angel Romero applied for the loan, “I am so thankful for this program. I found out about it as I was applying for U.S. citizenship, and I am so glad I did. The loan covered the cost of my application, and I was able to pay it off without issues,” said Romero. In commenting about the experience, Romero added, “It was perfect! After I paid that loan, I was able to apply and get another one, which helped me as I was looking to buy a car. The experience was great, and I appreciated that the representative from Affinity Plus spoke Spanish, which was very helpful and convenient”.
The path to U.S. Citizenship is not always easy. Some of the toughest barriers often faced by immigrants and refugees are financial, the naturalization process fee alone is $725. However, U.S. citizenship comes with many benefits, including:
- The right to vote in local, state, and national elections
- Obtaining a U.S. passport, which provides tourist access to a large number of countries without a visa or with visas
- Access to jobs, grants, scholarships, and other government benefits reserved for U.S. citizens. New job opportunities, such as government positions
- Higher wages, including demonstrating to employers your intention to stay in the country permanently, which can be a motivation for them to want to invest more in you as an employee.
About Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Based in St. Paul, Minn., Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial cooperative that puts people first above profits. Members of Affinity Plus receive maximum value through competitive rates, minimal fees, and unique, member-centric products and programs. Established in 1930, Affinity Plus has 30 branches located throughout Minnesota and is owned by more than 240,000 members. Affinity Plus has more than $3.9 billion in assets. Additional information is available at www.affinityplus.org or by calling 800-322-7228