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CSN hopes to obtain grant to continue naturalization courses

For two years the College of Southern Nevada has helped dozens in the community achieve naturalization by offering free educational courses.

The college plans to offer free citizenship preparation courses again this fall, pending the approval this summer of a federal grant.

The classes focus on the civics content needed to pass the naturalization exam to become a U.S. citizen and the English language skills applicants will need to pass the interview portion.

Adults should have an "intermediate" understanding of the English language, said program specialist Jodi Ruback, because beginners tend to struggle with the reading workload. Those with beginner-level English will be referred to free English as a Second Language courses also offered by CSN.

Registration is available online at csn.edu/workforce, by phone at 651-4487 and in person at CSN’s Sahara West Center, 2409 Las Verdes St.

CSN does not offer help with the naturalization application or the filing fee of $680.

Last year’s classes averaged between 15 and 20 students per class. Since classes began in 2010, more than 80 percent of students completed the naturalization process on the first attempt, according to CSN.

The 12-week course usually consists of 2½-hour classes twice a week and uses two textbooks. The first eight weeks focus on U.S. history and government. Students later study practice multiple-choice questions and, during the last week of class, listen to sample interviews and perform mock interviews.

"Students who have taken it have given awesome feedback," Ruback said.

Some of the students who have taken the course have been native English speakers, Ruback said, from countries such as Canada and England. They stay with the class because of the great opportunity to learn U.S. history, she said.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas does not offer classes to aid with citizenship, but its law students do help immigrants.

Students at UNLV’s Boyd School of Law assist immigrant communities pro bono with legal problems such as deportation. The school has an immigration clinic that accepts referrals of legal cases from community organizations. It is a six-credit course offered each semester, giving students real-world experience in immigration law.

The clinic is not open to the public because the students cannot accept a large volume of cases, said Fatma Marouf, a professor and co-director of the clinic.

The clinic also houses the Nevada Immigrant Resource Project, an outreach program that develops immigration-related education for immigrant communities.

For more information, visit law.unlv.edu.

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 224-5524.

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