Providence, Dorcas International launch free legal services program for city immigrants

THE CITY OF PROVIDENCE on Thursday announced a new program offering free legal services to Providence immigrant seeking citizenship. /PBN FILE PHOTO/CHRIS BERGENHEIM

PROVIDENCE – The city is teaming up with an immigrant services nonprofit to help foreign-born residents apply for citizenship and other legal needs, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza announced on Thursday.

The Immigration Legal Assistance and COVID-19 Recovery Program will give eligible city residents access to free legal services, including money for citizenship applications, the release stated. The program will be spearheaded by Providence-based Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, which was chosen for a two-year contract with the city through a competitive bidding process. 

“There are many people who qualify to become U.S. citizens but due to either the cost of the application or other legal issues, never end up applying,” Elorza said in a statement. “With this partnership, we are providing legal support for immigrants and providing funds to pay for the application.”

Dorcas International was the sole bidder for the $500,000 contract, which is being paid for with a portion of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, the release stated. 

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The program is open to those with a household income at below 300% of federal poverty level guidelines – equal to $40,770 for one person or $83,250 for a family of four in 2022 – or those who earn at or below 65% of area median income, the release stated. Participants must be trying to apply for citizenship or adjust their immigration status to qualify.

Nearly one-third of city residents were born in another country, while almost half speak another language, according to information from Dorcas International. The organization estimates that about 50% of Providence immigrants are already naturalized citizens. 

For more information or to apply for legal assistance, call Dorcas International at 401-784-8600 or by visiting PVDRescuePlan.com/Apply.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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