Garfield Campus Offers Citizenship Classes

Cindy Garcia

The U.S. is known internationally for its broad diversity of cultures and ethnicities and is formed by people from all different backgrounds, many of whom are immigrants from all over the world.

But what do you do if you can barely speak English and have no idea who the man on the one dollar bill is and want to become a U.S. citizen? The answer is very simple: enroll in free citizenship classes at the college’s Garfield campus.

“We have three classes [for] beginning students who are barely literate, intermediate students and advanced,” said Division Chair of Non-Credit ESL, Patricia Zayas.

In the citizenship classes, students are prepared to fluently answer the 100 questions of the civic writing test and some personal oral questions in English for their interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

“One of your requirements for citizenship is to be able to read, write and understand English, so we also teach English at the same time that we are teaching the government and the history,” said citizenship and ESL teacher, Sandra Limina.

The citizenship classes are tuition free but there is a $35 fee that covers the cost of the photographs, the typed application and the entire package ready to be sent to the USCIS.

To successfully complete the class, the textbook “Voices of Freedom: English and Civics for U.S. Citizenship,” serves as an excellent key. Within its 240 pages, this book covers topics from vocabulary to “The Oath of Allegiance,” as well as citizen rights and duties.

Students have access to the book during class time and they may also purchase the book for $25. When purchasing the book, students count with an extra tool which is the CD for additional help such as supplemental tips and recommendations.

At the time of the interview, the immigration officer may ask the applicant up to 10 questions out of the 100. The applicant must answer at least six questions correctly in order to pass the civics test.
If the applicant is 65 years or older and has been a legal resident of the U.S. for 20 years or more, she or he may study only 20 questions out of the 100 in the book.

Becoming a citizen is a rewarding experience because “they can vote and they can participate in the government,” said Limina. “They have a say to what happens to them, that way they can take more control of their lives.”

Even though for some adults, becoming a U.S. citizen seems to be a goal too far to reach, student Zarintaj Asadollah is a success story. She is an Iranian immigrant and a grandmother who has been living in the U.S. for six years and just passed her test.

“I am very happy that I passed my test,” Asadollah said. “I was very concerned at first but I did it of course with the help of my teacher.”

She also described the citizenship classes to be helpful and a great opportunity, but the only conflict she occasionally had was the time the classes were scheduled.

“I take care of my two grandchildren and sometimes it was very difficult for me because of time conflict, but the classes are very good and I really recommend them,” Asadollah said.

The citizenship classes meet two nights a week, Monday and Wednesday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and are a semester long.

The citizenship office has been serving the community for about 25 years, with citizenship consultancy and has been offering classes for about 15 years.

The Garfield campus is located at 1122 E. Garfield Ave.

Students can register anytime if the classes are not full. To register for classes or to ask questions, visit or call 818- 240-1000, ext. 5717.