By FRITZNER NEPTUNE

Officials connected to a CUNY-led effort to ease the path to citizenship urged aspiring citizens to apply quickly before the federal government changes fee waiver rules.

New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, CUNY Chancellor, Felix Matos Rodriguez, and Director of CUNY Citizenship Now! Allan Wernick held a press conference at John Jay College to address the upcoming changes.

The current fee waivers are need-based but only require applicants to show if they are receiving income-based benefits, have a household income is less than 150% of the poverty level, or can show proof that they are experiencing financial hardship.

The new rule requires applicants not jut one but at least two of the requirements to receive the $725 fee waiver.

“Any day now we expect the government to announce a new fee waiver policy,” said Wernick “We think that most of the people we’re helping now will get fee waivers but it’s going to be a hugely complex process. It’s going to require a lot of paper, it’s going to discourage a lot of people from applying. We are committed when the renewal comes about to develop efficiency and do whatever we can to help qualify for the waiver”.

More than 60% of people attending the application assistance event on September 21st could leave with a fee waiver request, a naturalization application, and a copy of their green card. Once done, the only fee would be the cost the postage stamp.

CUNY Citizenship Now! became the first university-based immigration service when it began in 1997. It supports 15,000 people a year with citizenship and immigration law services, free of charge.

“I’m extremely excited about Citizenship Day, said Matos Rodriguez

Luzdary Lozano, a beneficiary of the group’s efforts, came to America in 2010, leaving her husband and children in Columbia. After gaining residency, she turned to Citizenship Now for assistance. In eight months she was able to become a U.S. citizen.

“Today I realized something very important, that education and perseverance are fundamental, as well as having the help from CUNY Citizenship Now,” she said through an interpreter. “That is why I’m vouching to motivate yourselves and come to the event on the 21st and get help becoming a citizen”.

Photo by Fritzner Neptune