ANNANDALE, Va. (WDVM) — The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington partnered with the American Immigration Lawyers Association on Friday to participate in “citizenship day”: a national effort by the AILA and nonprofits to encourage eligible immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The Diocese of Arlington’s immigration services office was at full capacity Friday morning, with attorneys serving people from 15 different countries in regions around the world. Staff attorneys worked for only $110 to help clients fill out their 20-page applications. Referring to an attorney for help is strongly encouraged.
The help doesn’t stop at the workshop. “We don’t accompany them to the interview,” said Naturalization Manager for the Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington’s Immigration Services Sydney Bright. “But we sit down and review, and if anything happens in between they can come back to our office and we’ll be able to help them out.”
Supervising Attorney Ashley LaRiccia says about 50 to 60 people frequent these workshops, but about half of them are eligible to make it to the final stage.
“You have to have your green card for five years or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen,” said LaRiccia. “You have to show that you have good moral character, and you have to make sure there isn’t anything in your past that would disqualify you.” That includes certain criminal convictions and long trips abroad, said LaRiccia.
The Catholic Charities hosts eight to 10 of these workshops a year. The next one is on October 26 in Arlington.