SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative (SF Pathways) is excited to relaunch Lawyers in the Library, a series of free workshops to help eligible green card holders apply for U.S. citizenship at San Francisco Public Library.
“We are proud to partner on such an impactful program,” says City Librarian Michael Lambert. “This is what San Francisco Public Library is all about, providing the space, expertise and support so that residents can pursue their goals and dreams. We look forward to hosting the upcoming Pathways to Citizenship program, and we look forward to hosting many more in the future.”
“SF Pathways makes becoming a U.S. citizen easy, accessible, and affordable,” said Jorge Rivas, director of the Office of Civic Engagement & Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA) and secretary of the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Commission. “We are committed to expanding civic engagement for all communities, and providing free, high-quality services to help immigrants take the next step to become U.S. citizens.”
On Tuesday, January 16, the Lawyers in the Library workshop will help 30 eligible immigrants with their citizenship application using the online tool CitizenshipWorks. Interested applicants make an appointment by leaving a message on one of the SF Pathways multilingual hotlines:
- English: 415-662-8901
- Spanish: 415-662-8902
- Chinese: 415-295-5894
- Filipino: 415-692-6798
- Vietnamese: 415-644-8392
- Russian: 415-754-3818
In 2017, SF Pathways launched its Lawyers in the Library partnership with the San Francisco Public Library to help San Franciscans apply for citizenship through computer-based workshops. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP volunteers support workshop participants with screening for citizenship eligibility and filling out their naturalization application. After a pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, the partnership successfully resumed workshops at the Main Library on October 24, 2023.
“When we launched the Lawyers in the Library partnership, SF Pathways was thrilled to bring our workshop model to an environment where our immigrant communities were already accessing resources,” said Brett Snider, immigration attorney and director of the Legal Services department at Jewish Family and Children’s Services, one of the seven SF Pathways partner organizations. “We are grateful to the San Francisco Public Library and the immigration attorneys and paralegals at Fragomen, who make these free workshops possible.
The benefits of becoming a citizen are clear: Studies show that naturalized citizens earn 8 to 11 percent more than green card holders. Naturalized citizens also benefit from freedom to travel, increased job opportunities, and much more. As we approach the 2024 election cycle, the time is now for the thousands of eligible immigrants in San Francisco to naturalize and become voters.
In addition to getting application support, participants can get also 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. Funded by the City and local foundation partners, the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship Initiative has held over 70 free workshops across the city, provided legal screenings to over 17,000 immigrants, and saved applicants over $5 million in application fees since 2013. 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 January 16, 2024, go to: sfcitizenship.org.
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 Labor Center for Immigrant Justice
Learn more: sfcitizenship.org
About the San Francisco Public Library
The San Francisco Public Library is a vital resource for the community, providing free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning, and the joys of reading for all. With a commitment to inclusivity and innovation, the library offers a wide range of programs and services that enrich the lives of San Francisco residents. For more information, visit sfpl.org
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