Multicultural News

Immigrant Welcome Center offers virtual citizenship classes

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Naturalization ceremonies are happening again in Indianapolis, but at a much smaller capacity.

On top of that, the Immigration Welcome Center in Indianapolis is offering virtual citizenship classes. It’s been about three months since the government offices were open at full capacity. And that’s the same amount of time since the Immigrant Welcome Center last welcomed people through its doors.

While things are starting to move Immigrant Welcome Center representatives said getting caught up is going to take quite a bit of time. Thousands of people hope for the American dream. For many that means becoming a naturalized citizen. But COVID-19 restrictions have made an already difficult process a bit harder.

“With the pandemic, there’s going to be a huge backlog. People have not been able to go for their interviews even though they’ve submitted their applications,” said Adejoke Awolusi with the Immigrant Welcome Center.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Indianapolis opened for limited capacity in mid-May.

Back then, about 650 people were eligible for naturalization. That number keeps going up. With COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, naturalization ceremonies have been limited to five people per ceremony 25 times a day.

“We are prepared, really, because the Immigrant Welcome Center is nothing without the immigrants,” said Awolusi.

The Immigrant Welcome Center is working to help more people reach the goal of naturalization through virtual citizenship classes. So far, they’ll be offering two classes broken into groups of 15 people.

“The classes are meant to prepare legal permanent residents for their interviews. The application process is very expensive and long,” Awolusi said.

Many may opt to learn on their own, but for people who thrive in group-like settings, the virtual courses are invaluable.

The Immigrant Welcome Center representatives said as one course ends, they’ll be starting up another.