Seattle Offers Citizenship Loans for Aspiring Americans

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July 2016

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union & Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs 

In partnership with the City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA), the Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU) launched two citizenship loan products in June 2016 to help low-income immigrants and refugees pay for citizenship applications and increase access to banking services.  The partnership was the result of an introduction by the National Association of Community Development Credit Unions.

Currently, more than 22,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) in Seattle are eligible to naturalize and more than half are low-income. Although citizenship offers many benefits, many eligible residents do not naturalize because they can’t afford the current $680 application fee.  While USCIS is proposing to make the fee waiver accessible to more people, the agency’s proposal to raise the fee to $725 will continue to keep citizenship out of reach for many low-income LPRs.

SMCU’s low-interest loan products titled Citizenship Xpress and Citizenship+ range from $700 to $4,000 and offer no application fee, no income verification requirements, and monthly payments.  A no-interest, fee-based option is available for those who need Islamic financing. Eligible LPRs in Washington State can apply by phone, in-person, or online at www.smcu.com/citizen.

SMCU’s loan products are a reflection of how public-private partnerships can meet the needs of under-served populations.  The City of Seattle hopes to initiate these types of partnerships to serve more eligible residents.  Besides SMCU, Express Credit Union also provides loan products for low-income applicants.

About OIRA:  Chartered in 2012, OIRA works to improve the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities.  OIRA strives to achieve this vision by engaging immigrant and refugee communities in decisions about the City’s future and improving the City’s programs and services. For more information about OIRA’s New Citizen Campaign, contact Nhi Tran at Nhi.Tran@seattle.gov or 206.386.1882.

About SMCU: SMCU is a not-for-profit financial cooperative that has provided financial services to the employees and family members of the City of Seattle since 1933. Since then, SMCU has expanded its charter to include anyone who lives or works in the state of Washington. For more information about OIRA’s New Citizen Campaign, visit www.seattle.gov/IandRAffairs or contact Nhi Tran atNhi.Tran@seattle.gov or 206.386.1882.