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Phoenix Nonprofit Offers Interest-Free Loans For Citizenship Applications

A Phoenix nonprofit is offering loans to help lawful permanent residents pay their U.S. citizenship application fees, largely with support from a Mexican foundation.

Chicanos Por La Causa, a community development corporation based in Phoenix, began offering interest-free, one year loans for immigrants who are eligible to apply but can’t afford the $715 in fees for naturalization application, said Emilio Gaynor, director of international development at Chicanos Por La Causa.

There are a number of other requirements for legal residents before they are eligible to apply for citizenship, including having lived legally and paid taxes in the U.S. for a specific number of years.

The citizenship initiative is being paid in part with $300,000 in support from the Mexico City-based Carlos Slim Foundation, Gaynor said. It’s also receiving $40,000 from the Arizona Community Foundation.

“Our mission is to empower the community, and this allows for community empowerment through citizenship,” Gaynor said. “Once one becomes a citizen, they have the ability to vote. They have all kinds of options that residents or as someone who is trying to apply for residency doesn’t.”

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.