New citizenship workshop offered at Framingham Public Library September 23, 2018
Zane Razzaq 508-626-3919 Metrowest Daily News
A new drop-in workshop at the Framingham Public Library will help explain the process of applying for citizenship.

FRAMINGHAM -- After coming to America five months ago, Joice Johann is taking the first step to make sure she stays.

"This country has been very good for me," said Johann, originally from Brazil. "I like it very much. The culture, the people."

Johann was one of nine people who attended a drop-in citizenship session at the Framingham Public Library last week. Participants came from countries including Brazil, Belarus, Russia and others. Offered on a monthly basis, the free classes will guide those planning on applying for citizenship through the complicated process. Topics will include eligibility for citizenship, what questions to expect at the test, and how to fill out all the necessary paperwork.

Instructor Brian Judge taught similar classes in the past. For him, his favorite part is when students reach out to him afterwards.

"Just to get their call, 'I passed!' You know they're having the best day of their life," said Judge.

The library was recently awarded a $15,000 Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. The grant funded the creation of the Citizenship Corner, where classes are held, and the development of expanded literary services in the form of Saturday Conversation Classes for those seeking to learn or improve their English. In addition to Saturday Conversation Classes, the library provided free citizenship classes.

I am sure Anne Brennan did all her research on the status of the immigrants. Were they documented immigrants, or illegal aliens?

To be eligible for citizenship, an applicant needs a permanent resident or green card for at least five years or for at least three years if they're filing as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. They are required to fill out a form called N-400 and return it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Afterward, they would have an interview with immigration officials. If they're granted citizenship, they would attend a ceremony likely in Boston to take an oath.

Judge said the hardest part for most people is getting the hang of the language. He one time was practicing possible interview questions with a woman and asked her if she had ever committed genocide. When she nodded yes, he defined it and "she got this horrible look on her face."

"The pressure can be so high. But if language is the big impediment -- we can overcome that. You just have to be willing to take that first step," said Judge.

The next session is Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Citizenship Corner, located on the third floor of the library at 49 Lexington St. Registration is not necessary and anyone interested is encouraged to attend.

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