On Saturday, December 7, fifteen (15) central Texas residents were able to participate in Baylor Law’s third-ever Naturalization Clinic to assist lawful permanent residents (green-card holders) complete the necessary documentation to file for Naturalization, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
Under the direction of Professor of Law Laura A. Hernández, second- and third-year Baylor Law students, along with several volunteer Baylor Law faculty and staff members, assisted permanent residents with completing their N-400 naturalization applications, and collecting the necessary supporting documentation to send to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 22 student volunteers worked one-on-one with the applicants, answering questions and resolving any issues that arose along the way.
All assistance offered by the Baylor Law Naturalization Clinic is free, a service that could cost filers who work with an immigration attorney anywhere from $1,000 to more than $5,000 per application. Conservatively, the Baylor Law Naturalization Clinic saved the families participating in the clinic more than $35,000 in legal fees that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. Filers must still provide the $725 fee to USCIS for their citizenship application.
The Naturalization Clinic is just the first step in a long process for these applicants. From the time they finalize and mail their application until they take the oath of allegiance, the naturalization process can take anywhere from several months to a year or longer.
“These clinics give people of Waco and surrounding areas an opportunity to naturalize without fear of having an inconsistent application keep them from proceeding to the next steps in becoming an American citizen,” said Adriana Adams, a second-year law student who plans to work for Office of the Texas Attorney General after graduation and eventually open her own law firm focused on family and immigration law. Adams added, “I love that I can be of help by ensuring that each client receive accurate information on what to bring to the clinic as well as what to expect after she/he submits the application.”
“By offering this clinic, we were able to assist several families who are now on the road to becoming United States citizens,” Stated Baylor Law Professor Laura Hernández, who added, “Immigration rules are subject to change and it’s possible that permanent residents could lose their residency status for even relatively minor offenses. Becoming a citizen ends that potential uncertainty, gives him or her the full privileges of citizenship, and allows their voice to be heard in local, state and federal elections.”
The Naturalization Clinic has become one of Baylor Law’s most sought-after clinics, and with each event, the waiting list of clients seeking assistance grows. Baylor Law has scheduled another Naturalization Clinic for March 2020. Legal permanent residents interested in becoming U.S. citizens via naturalization are invited to participate in the next clinic. Those interested must sign up in advance by calling (254) 710-4244, or by emailing the Clinic at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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ABOUT BAYLOR LAW
Established in 1857, Baylor University School of Law was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,600 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as one of the top 5 in the nation. Baylor Law is also ranked in the top 50 in the magazine’s 2019 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and in the top 15 "Best Law School Facilities" in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984. Learn more at baylor.edu/law
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Learn more at baylor.edu