In 2014, Maria and Roberto finally arrived in the Bay Area to live with family after waiting sixteen years in El Salvador for their green cards to be approved.
Maria and Roberto, who have been married for 41 years, came to the United States for safety and opportunity.
“There is more opportunity to live better and without problems,” Roberto said. “I want to go back to work. My dream is to be a Spanish teacher.”
After five years, they were eligible to apply for citizenship. In June, they came to IIBA’s Fremont citizenship workshop for help with their applications.
“When I went to the workshop, we were worried to go because our English is not perfect,” Roberto said.
However, Maria and Roberto found the process very smooth because their assigned volunteer helped them fill out all their paperwork. They then received a legal review from a qualified legal representative.
“When I went in El Salvador to the Embassy, it’s very difficult because the person is sometimes cold. But here, it is like a family,” Roberto said.
They study everyday for their citizenship exam and attend English classes three times a week. They are most excited to vote in the next election if their application is approved in time. The current wait period for citizenship applications in the Bay Area is between 15 and 17 months. Notably, in 2015, the average citizenship application processing time was under six months nationally.
Photos by Shelly Erceg