Volunteer Views: Supporting Aspiring New Americans in San Jose

“With the power of a single sentence I was transformed to become an American, a proud citizen of this great country,” says Victor Sin, who first came to the U.S. as a foreign student to attend college in the 1980s. He stayed to work, becoming a work-visa holder and later a legal permanent resident (LPR). Victor became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

As he approached retirement in 2013, Victor began searching for volunteer opportunities that would give him the opportunity to pay back the country that he says has been so kind to him. He became involved with the New Americans Campaign after learning about NAC citizenship workshops in San Jose, California. He has been a volunteer since his first workshop, in August 2013.

Victor now assists clients in filling out the N-400 form, the application for naturalization; and the I-912 form, the request for a fee waiver.  As a speaker of Cantonese and Mandarin, he also provides interpretation services for clients at the citizenship events.

For Victor, volunteering reminds him what it was like when he applied for citizenship. He still vividly remembers the moment he took the Oath of Allegiance in his ceremony.

“It was truly a magical moment,” says Victor. “I feel gratified that I am able to help some LPRs in this process. I hope that they will feel the same magical moment as I did.”

While everyone has unique motivation to naturalize, Victor believes that when LPRs become citizens, they have a stronger sense of belonging to the U.S. and they are able to make their voices heard.

“When I filed my application for naturalization I felt, and still feel, more attached to the U.S. than any other place on Earth,” he says.

In addition to his work at citizenship workshops, Victor also gives his time to our San Jose partners at the Asian Law Alliance (ALA) by conducting intake for clients seeking legal consultation, translating and interpreting between Chinese and English for clients, and assisting clients in filling out immigration forms.

Apart from experiencing the joy in helping people, Victor believes it’s important to volunteer to enrich your own life.

“Most people grow up in a particular environment with a particular background. They may not be aware of the challenges or difficulty that other people may face,” Victor says. “By interacting with people from diverse backgrounds during volunteer work, I think that the volunteers can become more socially aware and more philanthropic. The society will, in turn, benefit as a whole.”

Posted on January 22, 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.

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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