Lending Circles for Citizenship
Citizenship is an Asset. Without legal citizenship, hard-working members of the American fabric cannot vote or get access to safety net programs. Low-wage earners often live from paycheck to paycheck, leaving the $680 citizenship application fee standing in their way of a secure future.
According to a Pew Hispanic Study (2007), naturalized immigrant families are less likely to be low income than their legal permanent resident counterparts. Over half of all immigrants eligible for citizenship are low-income (58% soon be eligible and 52% for currently eligible). For naturalized citizens, the poverty rate is lower: only 38% are low-income.
Becoming a legal citizen of the United States has a tangible impact on poverty. Only 14% of naturalized citizens live below the poverty line, a dramatic improvement on the 24% of eligible and 30% of soon to be eligible living below the poverty line. Naturalized immigrants are able to achieve this economic mobility through increased job opportunities. For example, naturalized women have a 70% labor force participation rate compared to 57% of women eligible to naturalize.
How do Lending Circles for Citizenship work?
Rooted in cultural peer lending practices across the world, Lending Circles for Citizenship is organizing low-income individuals to save and lend to each-other to cover citizenship fees. To incentivize this activity, we provide a 25% match to help make your goal a reality. Lending Circles for Citizenship is a unique credit-building matched savings program that helps individuals overcome steep financial obstacles to citizenship. Research shows that Citizenship is an asset -- the key difference between living in poverty and living a financially secure life. Lending Circles for Citizenship is based on Mission Asset Fund’s Lending Circles model, a highly successful credit-building loan for low-income individuals that improves individual credit scores by 49 points over a short period of time.
U.S. Citizenship is a powerful financial asset that provides individuals with the ability to earn more money, lowering rates of poverty and offering financial stability both for individuals and entire families.
By staying true to the roots of informal lending traditions found across the globe, this tried-and-true way of providing loans feels very comfortable and familiar, especially to foreign-born Americans.
• Participants contribute $510 over a period of 6 months
• Participants work with local immigration organizations to complete citizenship classes
• Participants receive a charitable match of $170
• Participants improve credit scores in a short amount of time, an essential bridge to mainstream financial services
• Loans are secure, provided at 0% interest with $0 fees