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Lazaro’s story to becoming a citizen began back in 2012 when he arrived to the US from Cuba under the wet-foot dry-foot policy (Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966). The policy allowed Lazaro to emigrate from Cuba to the United States and pursue residency a year later. But participants were placed under deportation proceedings until they applied for their green card, which had to happen after one year. To help navigate the legal process, Lazaro contacted JFCS Immigration Legal Services.
Lazaro worked with Jamie Englert to apply for his green card and terminate his removal case. She also referred him to English classes to help him improve his language skills. After a legal process of almost 2 years, Lazaro received his green card. With his new green card and permanent resident status, Lazaro began his journey in America, working hard to build a life for himself. In 2014, he met his girlfriend, and eventually Lazaro was even able to buy a house for his growing family.
JFCS helps with citizenship
In 2019, Lazaro became eligible to apply for citizenship. Immediately, he reached out to Jamie for help. “Jamie, it’s me Lazaro. Do you remember me?” he asked when she picked up the call. Jamie told him she used to know a Lazaro but he didn’t speak English. Lazaro laughed at this and was happy to explain he was the same person. They set up an appointment to help him on the path to becoming a citizen. “The things I remembered about Lazaro were his optimistic outlook, his work ethic, and his fantastic laugh,” Jamie reminisced.
JFCS Immigration Legal Services works with many clients multiple times throughout their journey from arrival in the US to citizenship. “One of the most rewarding parts of our work is to have the opportunity to work with people more than once and really get to know them. When they have a good experience and come back for additional help, it’s the best kind of compliment,” Jamie explained.
Lazaro took classes to study for the test and interview portions of the process. “The hardest part was the citizenship test! I studied every day,” he said. After Jamie helped him overcome some unique challenges during the application process, Lazaro passed his test and interview and was scheduled for an Oath Ceremony.
“We want to provide our clients with support and security,” Jamie said. “We’re invested in them, we fight for them, and we celebrate when our clients celebrate! I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and so many of my former clients have become like family.”
Lazaro becomes a citizen
On January 7, 2020, among 23 other new Americans from 15 different countries, Lazaro took the Oath of Allegiance and officially became a US citizen. “Coming to America changed my life and gave me a new opportunity to be free. I can have everything I want…if I work really hard!” Lazaro laughed. Smiling and celebrating with his family, Lazaro said the best part of becoming a US citizen was “Everything! I am really happy!”
For individuals in need of advice relating to legal immigration matters and unable to hire private attorneys, JFCS can provide legal assistance through attorneys and accredited representatives for free or a nominal fee. Learn more.