English, Civics Classes Help Aspiring Americans Achieve Citizenship

Thanh Do and his wife, Thu, at his citizenship ceremony, December 2013

Thanh Do and his wife, Thu, at his citizenship ceremony, December 2013

In your late 60s, your life is typically already established. But that wasn’t the case for Thanh Do, who uprooted his life and moved to the United States from Vietnam in 2008 seeking freedom and opportunities.

“I was very grateful to finally be in the U.S.,” says Thanh. “My life here in America has been very comfortable with less worries.”

But Thanh’s journey here was not always easy. After living in the U.S. for five years as a lawful permanent resident, he became eligible for citizenship in 2012, at age 72. Although he wanted to become a U.S. citizen, his age and limited English skills proved to be a challenge.

“Because of my age, learning English was the hardest and it took time,” Thanh says.

Thanh turned to New Americans Campaign partner Boat People SOS (BPSOS), a Vietnamese American community organization that assists new immigrant populations in Houston and seven other cities in the U.S.

Thanh enrolled in English and civic classes with BPSOS.

“Receiving support from BPSOS staff and volunteer teachers made the journey more bearable,” he says.

In addition to the free citizenship class and the low-cost English learning course, BPSOS also helped Thanh complete his citizenship application.

Although Thanh was nervous for his interview with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, his hard work paid off. He passed his exam and became a citizen in December 2013.

“I was very grateful and happy to become a U.S. citizen,” says Thanh. “No one can take away my freedom.”

Thanh believes it’s important for lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to become citizens. “The United States stands for freedom and the right to vote,” says Thanh, who also thinks LPRs should become citizens for the future of their families and children.

Thanh encountered barriers to citizenship that so many others face too. But, as Thanh’s story shows, help is available to overcome these obstacles. The New Americans Campaign and its network of partners work across the country with people just like Thanh, helping them achieve their American dream.

Posted on June 29, 2015

Our Impact

  • The Campaign has completed over 3,700 naturalization workshops and clinics.
  • Over 250,000 citizenship applications completed since July 2011.

    Saved aspiring citizens and their families over $206million in legal and application fees.
  • Adopted scalable technology. MP3 players, Google Voice, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are being used to enhance naturalization service delivery.
  • Expanded New American Workforce (an effort to provide naturalization assistance within corporations) which has partnered with over 100 businesses across the nation, ranging from hotels in Miami to American Apparel in Los Angeles.
  • Deployed Citizenshipworks, an online tool, across the Campaign in multiple settings and languages. A newly redesigned platform guides applicants through through their citizenship application from start to finish and connects applicants to legal help at partnering non-profits.
  • Were instrumental in inspiring the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to support the Citizenship Corners initiative.
  • Created innovative partnerships with public libraries, school districts, universities, social service agencies, and employers, all of which yield not only greater numbers of applicants but also greater awareness of the naturalization process.
  • Deployed a large-scale volunteer recruitment program through an e-learning course.

    Reached diverse communities. Local partners consistently outreach and provide culturally competent and language-appropriate services.
Learn more from our
Impact Report.

Get Citizenship Help

Who We're Helping

People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More