Immigration

Providence’s new program puts citizenship within reach for more immigrants

“Becoming a U.S. citizen isn’t easy. There are numerous eligibility requirements, loads of paperwork, and it’s expensive,” said Kathy Cloutier, Executive Director of Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island.

Published on August 4, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza announced the launch of an Immigration Legal Assistance and COVID-19 Recovery Program on Thursday morning. The program will provide immigration-focused legal services to foreign-born Providence residents seeking United States citizenship or renewal of lawful immigrant status, as well as connect individuals with community organizations and public agencies providing additional services, benefits and a variety of basic needs.

Providence residents interested in receiving legal assistance or learning more about the program should contact Dorcas International directly at 401-784-8600 or by visiting here.

“Providence is a welcoming City for all residents, and that includes our immigrant community,” said Mayor Elorza. “There are many people who qualify to become U.S. citizens but due to either the cost of the application or other legal issues, never end up applying. With this partnership, we are providing legal support for immigrants and providing funds to pay for the application. Anyone interested in receiving these services is encouraged to reach out to Dorcas International, who is highly experienced in this work.”

En Español:

The City of Providence selected Dorcas International, the largest United States Department of Justice accredited provider of low-cost immigration legal services in Rhode Island, to operate this program through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Throughout the two-year contract, Dorcas International will assist eligible individuals with the legal process of maintaining a lawful presence in Rhode Island, up to obtaining United States citizenship. Dorcas International will provide free legal assistance related to the federal immigration process, and also help low-income individuals apply for reduced or waived application fees.

“Becoming a U.S. citizen isn’t easy. There are numerous eligibility requirements, loads of paperwork, and it’s expensive,” said Kathy Cloutier, Executive Director of Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island. “This program allows Providence residents to receive free immigration legal assistance with their citizenship application and related processes, while also receiving information on the public benefits for which they can apply, without affecting their ability to naturalize.”

To be eligible for this program, individuals must have a household income that is at or below 300% of the federal poverty level guidelines or at or below 65% of the area median income, and must be seeking a legal path to United States citizenship or adjustment of status. Dorcas International’s existing clients will be automatically screened for eligibility beginning this month. In addition, Dorcas International will launch a multilingual outreach strategy to connect eligible participants to the program’s services.

According to Dorcas International, almost one in three Providence residents were born in another country, while almost half speak a language other than English. In part, because of the work of Dorcas International, almost 50% of Providence immigrants are naturalized United States citizens.

“I came here in 2017 on a working visa,” said Providence resident Rayanny Thornton. “The process [of becoming a United States citizen] is extremely expensive… between $2,000 and $5,000 or more…”

This program is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which supports economic recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Providence residents interested in receiving legal assistance or learning more about the program should contact Dorcas International directly at 401-784-8600 or by visiting here.


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