Free citizenship classes in Humboldt

Free citizenship classes are being offered at the Jefferson Community Center in Eureka on Wednesdays from 6 – 7:30 p.m. The class will run until April 5 for those looking to become United States citizens.

Elizabeth Niemeyer has been teaching the “Towards Citizenship” class since 2017. Towards Citizenship is a program of English Express, a project of The Ink People.

“We’ve had people from countries where they don’t even use the same alphabet. And they can pass,” Niemeyer said. “We have people from countries where the third grade is the highest that they ever went.”

The weekly class teaches students about the application process, requirements to be met and information for the exam. The program offers free childcare while class takes place.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to be eligible to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen a person needs to:

  • read, write and speak basic English
  • be a permanent resident for three to five years
  • have knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
  • have loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance 

More information about eligibility can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.

“This class teaches us to learn more about the constitution, what it means to become a citizen, what each word means, it teaches us to learn how to be citizens, and the laws to learn how to vote,” said Maria Herrera, student.

During the course, students can be found helping and studying with each other for the citizenship exam that many plan to take after the course ends.

“For the people who are older, who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years, will have their test in their own language,” said Aimee Castro, another student.

“But to the majority, it will be done in English and this is where this class helps us. They teach us the history in English and for those who don’t know much English, we are learning at the same time.”

Niemeyer bases her lessons on a single book, “Citizenship Passing The Test: Civics and Literacy,” and teaches her students the answers to the 100 possible questions on the citizenship test.

Students will take the official citizenship test at an immigration office in San Francisco. When they pass the test a ceremony takes place at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland where applicants will receive their certification of naturalization.

Niemeyer encourages her students as they prepare to apply for naturalization. “Everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is preparing for the test. Everyone comes in with a different background and different preparation,” Niemeyer said.

Class meets every Wed. at Jefferson Center 1000 B St, Eureka, CA 95501. For more information, visit englishexpressempowered.com, or contact Elizabeth Niemeyer at elizabethniemeyer@gmail.com and (707) 362-3968.

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