On Saturday, Immigration Clinic students and supervising attorneys volunteered at a Citizenship Fair in Virginia Beach. The Fair was sponsored by Gardner & Mendoza, PC and Tidewater Mortgage Services. At the fair, Clinic students helped green card holders from across Hampton Roads fill out applications for citizenship and gather the evidence necessary to support their case.
“When immigration lawyers, students, interpreters and local businesses get together to support and assist those who apply for U.S. Citizenship, we all benefit as a community,” said Radlyn Mendoza, Partner at Gardner & Mendoza, PC. “We can all be proud of our participation in Citizenship Day events and its positive impact.”
“Citizenship Day was meaningful to me because as someone who filed her own N-400, alone, the process would have been so much easier had I attended a similar event,” said Harlin Oh, J.D. Class of 2023. “Today, I had the honor of assisting those who understand the privileges that come with becoming a citizen of a free country, and I am grateful to them for entrusting me to pave their way forward.”
Clinic students and attorneys met with immigrants from all around the world and all walks of life to assist with their applications. Some applicants only had their green card for three years, while others for more than thirty years. Volunteer interpreters were available to assist with a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, Tagalog, Arabic, and Korean.
“A lot of the law we study focuses on punishment, deterrence, or profits and losses, and other not always joyful topics. There are few golden opportunities like today that are just joyful,” said Melissa Box, J.D. Class of 2023. “It is joyful to watch the relief, happiness, excitement in the eyes of the Citizenship Day clients when everyone stopped what they were doing and clapped for each person’s next step in becoming a US citizen.”
Stakeholders from across the Hampton Roads community were present at the event. William & Mary law students worked alongside local immigration attorneys, law students from Regent University, and even attorneys from large firms engaging in pro bono service. Representatives from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the HIVE from the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development were also present to share information and resources with fair attendees.
After the applications are submitted, the applicants will next undergo background checks, an interview, and English and Civics tests. According to USCIS, the entire process to apply for citizenship in Virginia takes approximately 17 months.
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