LOCAL NEWS

Rolling the dice for citizenship: Refugees join SLC English program for citizenship application

Jul 4, 2022, 8:11 PM | Updated: Jul 26, 2022, 4:56 pm

Refugees study for the US citizenship test....

Refugees study for the US citizenship test.

SALT LAKE CITY — For many, this Independence Day is a reminder of their goal to gain full citizenship. There’s a small group that meets twice a week in Salt Lake County to help refugees and immigrants get closer to gaining their U.S. citizenship.

The English Skills Learning Center has designed a unique English class that sets students up for success in their citizenship application. The curriculum focuses on helping immigrants and refugees pass an oral interview and written test covering a range of topics including U.S. history, politics and government.

“There’s high stakes here,” said Kara Vail, the program coordinator at ESLC.

Passing the citizenship application motivates the students, said Vail. Their program has a 92 percent pass rate.

“Most of the students that already take the initiative to come to our classes and choose to participate, usually pass,” said Vail.

The ESCL program has around 25 students enrolled. The citizenship test is not cheap – it costs $700 and the application process takes about a year.

Vail said their program partners with the Catholic Community Services and can offer legal services and special waivers to decrease the fee.

The program itself receives around $200,000 to $250,000 in grant money from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, allowing them to provide the classes for free.

“This is probably the most prestigious grant for this type of education,” said Vail. “We’re very proud to be the only one in Utah that has this grant.”

Hedy Miller has been an instructor with ESLC for more than a decade and has watched the success of multiple students throughout her tenure.

“I think this is probably the most rewarding job that you could have,” said Miller.

Miller’s classes review the 100 questions required for the citizenship interview. In their applications, each student must answer: why do you want to be an American citizen?

“Many want to vote,” said Miller. “Some people want to bring family members and some people want a better job.”

For Hafeez Ahmad, becoming a citizen means he can bring his deaf son from Pakistan to the U.S.

“My son come here and I hug my son,” said Ahmad, through tears.

Habi Yusuf came to the U.S. six years ago from Somalia and learned what Utah had to offer her.

“I like the mountains,” said Yusuf.

In between her work schedule, Yusuf attends class twice a week for a session of 11 weeks.

“I believe in the Constitution,” said Yusuf. “I’d like to vote.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, talking about the proposed changes that are happening to downt...

Carole Mikita and Michael Houck, KSL TV

‘This plan is ambitious’: Salt Lake County Mayor Wilson talks about the revitalization of Salt Lake City

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson spoke to KSL TV about all the proposed changes that could hit downtown Salt Lake City.

9 hours ago

A silhouetted man sitting in a chair on a phone call....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

New federal data shows favorite methods of scammers targeting Utahns

Over 26,200 Utahns reported getting hit by fraud to the Federal Trade Commission last year. And one out of five of those Utahns lost money to imposters.

9 hours ago

The Salt Lake City Police Department is releasing the Utah driver license photo of Jordan Gonzales ...

Carlysle Price

SLCPD requested help finding a missing, at-risk man

The Salt Lake City Police Department said they are looking for information about a missing, at-risk man.

10 hours ago

Odin Meacham, a 30-year-old man from Duchesne County, was found guilty Monday on assaulting officer...

Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Utah man convicted of assaulting law enforcement at US Capitol on Jan. 6

A man from Utah has been found guilty of seven felonies for actions at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

10 hours ago

A Utah DPS helicopter helping Salt Lake County Search and Rescue getting a hiker off a mountain aft...

Michael Houck

A pair of Utah treasure hunters needed rescuing after getting hurt

Two hikers needed help getting off Lookout Peak after one hurt their leg while looking for treasure on Sunday morning. 

11 hours ago

Officials obtained video footage from Orem Recreation Center, and needs help identifying this suspe...

Carlysle Price and Brianna Chavez. KSL TV

Police working to identify Orem Recreation Center sexual assault suspect

Officials reported a man sexually assaulted someone at The Orem Recreation Center Wednesday afternoon. Police said they need help identifying the suspect.

11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Rolling the dice for citizenship: Refugees join SLC English program for citizenship application