citizenship applications
U.S.C.I.S. STATION CHIEF. Willie Dechavez (right), chairperson of the Michigan chapter of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), poses for a souvenir photo with Douglas Pierce, Detroit station chief of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), at the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan shortly before the oath-taking rites for new American citizens last Feb. 18. Later, Pierce thanked NaFFAA-Michigan for hosting the swearing-in ceremonies.
[box type=”default” size=”large”] Longer application forms to be used starting May 3 [/box]Immigrants (green card holders) qualified to become naturalized American citizens are advised to file their citizenship applications in the next two months, March and April.

On May 2, 2014, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will stop accepting the old 10-page application forms. And starting May 3, 2014, USCIS will accept only new application form which consists of 21 pages. Due to the increase in the number of pages, it will be more cumbersome and difficult to fill out the forms.

This was learned during a “Metro Detroit Media Roundtable” forum held last Feb. 19 in Antonio’s Italia Cucina in Farmington Hills.

Organized by the New America Media (NAM), the roundtable forum was participated in by some 40 representatives of various ethnic media outlets in the Metro Detroit area. The Filipino Star News was represented by its editor-publisher, Tony Antonio.

During the forum, the “Detroit New Americans Campaign” was launched in a bid to convince eligible green card holders or legally permanent residents (LPRs) to apply for US citizenship. It was estimated by New Americans Campaign, there are 210,000 LPRs in Michigan, 130,000 of them eligible for citizenship.

The ethnic media groups were tapped to help in the campaign to disseminate information about the benefits awaiting new American citizens as well as the services available to those who encounter difficulties in applying for citizenship.

The speakers cited several challenges faced by LPRs who aspire to become American citizens.

One of the speakers, Wojciech Zolnoski, disclosed that beginning May 3, 2014, USCIS will be requiring citizenship applicants to accomplish the 21-page application forms instead of the usual 10-page documents. It will be more cumbersome to fill out the forms as the applicants are asked to provide more data about themselves.

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Another speaker, Bing Goei, who is the director of the newly created Michigan Office for New Americans, announced that Gov. Rick Snyder has been pushing for a program aimed at attracting immigrants to live and work in Michigan.

Goie, an immigrant himself who hails from Jakarta, Indonesia, said that one reason why Snyder is encouraging immigrants to come to Michigan is that immigrants are noted for their passions and innovations in business. A successful businessman himself, Goei said that out of 10 new successful brands of products, seven were started by immigrants.

He said Governor Snyder is focusing on employment-based immigration that gives preference to skilled immigrants.

Another speaker, Steve Tobocman, who is a former state representative, cited the power of the ethnic media in catering to the information needs of their readers. He said that while some ethnic people do cursory reading of the mainstream newspapers, they read the ethnic newspapers from cover to cover.

The New American Media (NAM), which organized the event, is composed of some 2,500 ethnic media outlets all over the country. It is based in San Francisco, California and has offices in New York and other key cities.

NAM’s Executive Director Sandy Close travelled all the way from San Francisco to Detroit to preside over the roundtable forum. Also joining the forum was Filipino-American Anthony D. Advincula, editor of NAM’s New York Bureau.