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Immigrants get help applying for citizenship

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Missouri Immigrant and Refuge Advocates
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Attorney Yi Sun and an interpreter help a Bosnian man fill out his citizenship application.

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis – More than a dozen immigrants got free help applying to become U.S. citizens at one of St. Louis' Islamic Community Centers Sunday.

Attorneys from the American Immigration Lawyers Association showed applicants how to fill out the 10-page form.

Lawyer Katie Herbert Meyer said immigrants often need help answering questions because of how they're phrased.

"Some of these words are just foreign to many people and they don't know exactly what immigration is asking for," Herbert Meyer said. "It's not at all unlike taxes, where you check one box wrong even unintentionally and it could have severe consequences."

The Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates organization co-sponsored the event.
Organizers said turnout may have been low due to rain.

One immigrant from West Africa, who came despite the weather, says it was tough gathering enough money and personal information to apply.

"The fee is high. They almost ask for almost 800 dollars. They want to know everything about you, not only before you came to the U.S. but since you've been here."

Organizers said it can take up to eight months for applicants to find out whether they have been approved to take a written citizenship test. They said more than 200 immigrants have been helped during the last four years.

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