Massachusetts ranks eighth among the states in the number of foreign-born-immigrants comprise one out of seven of our residents and 17% of our total labor force. Currently, 300,000 state residents are eligible to apply for citizenship. Citizenship bestows upon foreign-born individuals the right to vote, to participate more effectively in local and community politics, to serve the country as civilian or military government workers and to become more fully-engaged participants in the life of their city, state and country.

The Citizenship for New Americans Program (CNAP) was launched, with a State appropriation of $500,000, in October 2006 to help legal permanent residents of Massachusetts become U.S. citizens. Services are provided by twenty-four community-based organizations across the state, from the Berkshires to New Bedford, and include: English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)/civics classes; application assistance; interview preparation help; and other support services such as interpretation and referral services.

In addition to helping applicants navigate the complex naturalization process, CNAP providers encourage civic engagement in a variety of ways. Several programs have combined forces to hold voter registration drives. Another program visits local high schools in order to inform immigrant youth of the importance of civic participation. Yet another program hosts town meetings where New Americans can meet their elected officials and candidates for office.

Since its inception in 2006, CNAP providers have served nearly 10,000 Massachusetts residents. As a result of our combined efforts, 2,100 clients have been sworn in as new American citizens able to fully participate in the life of their new homeland!

This information is provided by the Office for Refugees and Immigrants.