The Office for New Americans (ONA) was established in 2013 to help New Americans fully participate in civic and economic life in New York State. The Immigrant Services Program at Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga is eager and honored to continue its work of supporting immigrants and refugees by joining the network of neighborhood-based ONA “Opportunity Centers” across New York.
Through the Opportunity Center, we offer unique programming that contribute to and strengthen a welcoming environment for New Americans and foster their success and integration into the community. With our professional staff and the support of volunteers, community organizations, and government agencies, we provide workshops designed to address the specific needs of the New American community in Ithaca and the surrounding areas. The ONA team of attorneys also offer on-site legal counsel to expand pro-bono services, while our Department of Justice accredited legal representative continues to support eligible New Americans through the deferred action or naturalization application processes.
See below for a list of these services, their descriptions, and information about how to access them. For any questions regarding our services, please contact Catholic Charities’ Immigrant Services Program at (607) 272-5062. For general questions about immigration and naturalization requirements, procedures, benefits, and referrals, you may call the multi-lingual, toll-free New York New Americans assistance hotline from 9am – 8pm, Monday – Friday at 1-800-566-7636.
Catholic Charities is pleased to offer these services with the support of local community organizations and the ONA Legal Counsel:
- Citizenship and Naturalization
- Legal Services for Dreamers
- Free Legal Consultations
- Immigration Law Workshops
- Citizenship Preparation Classes
- Community Workshops
- General Services
Citizenship and Naturalization
The ONA Opportunity Center offers a full range of services to immigrants in order for them to become naturalized as U.S. citizens. These services include:
- Free legal consultations
- Pre-screening for citizenship eligibility
- Assistance with completing and filing N-400 Naturalization applications, N-648 Medical Certifications for Disability Exceptions, and N-600 Citizenship Certificate applications
- Preparation of fee waiver applications
- Help obtaining information about Selective Service registration
- Referrals to Tompkins Learning Partners for FREE citizenship classes and/or ESL tutoring to prepare for the citizenship interview
- To schedule an appointment for assistance, please contact our Department of Justice accredited representative, Sue Chaffee at (607) 272-5062.
Legal Services for Dreamers
Services are available to individuals who need to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. These services include:
- Free assistance in filing form I-821D and I-765 to renew their DREAMER status and work permits
- Free consultations with the ONA legal counsel to meet with DACA recipients to explore their options for lawful permanent status in light of the significant changes and threats to the program.
Free Legal Consultations
During the year, the ONA Opportunity Center hosts the ONA Legal Counsel at Catholic Charities to provide free immigration legal consultation services on a monthly basis.
- On these consultation days, clients can make an appointment to have a one-time-only free legal consultation with our immigration attorneys to discuss their specific cases, questions, and concerns.
- Free legal consultations are available by appointment only. To set up an appointment, please contact Sue Chaffee at (607) 272-5062.
Immigration Law Workshops
- The Opportunity Center hosts workshops with an immigration attorney. These workshops address important issues in immigration law or federal immigration policy; topics are chosen based on the needs of the community.
- These immigration law workshops are facilitated in collaboration with the Cornell Farmworker Program and Cornell’s Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic and cover topics such as “Know Your Rights.”
Citizenship Preparation Classes
- Citizenship instruction is offered through Tompkins Learning Partners (TLP) to adults who live or work in Tompkins County
- Citizenship instruction sessions are held at least once per week for two hours at TLP or local libraries and are taught one-to-one or in small groups
- Volunteer tutors help prepare clients for their citizenship exam, focusing on necessary English language skills for the citizenship interview; topics in United States civics, history, and government; and questions on the naturalization exam
- To enroll, please contact Tompkins Learning Partners at (607) 277-6442
Community Workshops and Presentations
- The Opportunity Center hosts at least eight community workshops/presentations throughout the year.
- The workshops provide new Americans and the public with information to promote civic and community participation.
- One workshop focuses on access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) resources. Other potential topics will be based on the needs of the community and may include parental engagement with schools, financial literacy, disaster preparedness, consumer fraud protection, and other educational opportunities for adults and children.
- To learn more about these workshops, contact Paige Cross at (607) 272-5062
- The ONA Opportunity Center at Catholic Charities continues to offer the following services: job development; referrals to services such as ESOL providers or health insurance navigators; help with understanding, applying to, and accessing housing, healthcare, childcare, and other social services or public programs; and other advocacy and case management services.
Office for New Americans Opportunity Center
Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga
324 W. Buffalo St.
Ithaca, NY 14850
Phone: (607) 272-5062 | Fax: (607) 272-4427
- Sue Chaffee, Program Director and DOJ accredited representative
- Paige Cross, Program Coordinator
- Services can be offered in Spanish and English/Se puede brindar servicios en español e inglés
- Roe Si, Program Assistant
- Services can be offered in Karen and English
Learn More & Connect
- Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga Facebook
- The ISP Blog: Serving the Ithaca Immigrant
- The Office for New Americans Website
- The Office for New Americans Twitter: @NYSNewAmericans
- Tompkins Learning Partners Website (Citizenship and ESL Tutoring)
New Americans Hotline
- This free hotline is open from 9am – 8pm, Monday to Friday
- Information about ONA Opportunity Center locations, services, and referrals
- Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous. Anyone can call the hotline regardless of citizenship or documented status.
- Assistance is available in over 200 languages