SAN MATEO, California—Last Thursday, September 1, 2011, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D, San Mateo and San Francisco) hosted a Naturalization Information Session at the San Mateo City Hall. The session was aimed at legal permanent residents who needed help or wanted more information about the naturalization process. Present and conducting the session was Ms. Robin Barrett, Field Office Director for the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), San Francisco. She was assisted by several USCIS employees along with several members from US Representative Speier’s staff.
Congresswoman Speier opened the session around 2:30 pm with a speech outlining the advantages of US citizenship versus permanent residency. US citizenship, she said, enables one to vote, run for an elective office, work for the federal government, serve on a jury, apply for citizenship for his or her parents or siblings, and carry a US passport. She also mentioned the names of a few naturalized citizens including her own grandfather and former US Representative Tom Lantos whose seat in Congress Speier took over in a special election in 2008 for the remainder of his term and which she won for a full term in a regular election in 2010.
She then handed over the meeting to Field Office Director Barrett who gave a power point presentation detailing the process applicants go through from initial application for naturalization to the tests they must pass to the final oath taking and receipt of their citizenship certificate. She also enumerated the requirements from legal permanent residents applying for citizenship. According to her, to qualify, permanent residents must be at least 18 years of age and have lived continuously in the US for 3 years prior to application, if married to a US citizen, or 5 years for others, with some exceptions made for military personnel. They must also be of good moral character, speak English, and have basic knowledge of US history and government.
A role playing demonstration featuring 2 USCIS staff members playing the roles of applicant and USCIS officer was the conducted, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
For more information or to start the application, qualified residents can go to www.uscis.gov.