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María’s Story: Letter from a New U.S. Citizen

One of the most unique aspects of World Relief Chicagoland’s work serving immigrants and refugees is the diversity of people we get to meet. Each year, World Relief Chicagoland staff serve people who came to the United States from one of more than 100 different countries of origin. Together, they speak dozens of different languages.

Each brings a unique perspective, skills, and dreams for their life. For some, the dream is becoming a U.S. citizen.

Overcoming Barriers to Achieve Big Goals

However, these immigration neighbors also face unique barriers. Financial, cultural, language, and legal barriers keep them from experiencing legal justice. From reuniting with their families. From achieving their goals. Or from becoming U.S. citizens.

Because World Relief has been a trusted presence in Chicagoland for so long, it’s very common for those we serve to bring their friends and family back to World Relief offices when they need support.

Community members know that World Relief is a safe place where trusted staff and volunteers will help them reach their goals.

The Immigration Legal Services program staff are among these trusted staff. The immigration process can be confusing. Understanding the law and legal processes can be overwhelming. And navigating the legal system as an immigrant or refugee can be expensive and stressful. As experts in immigration law as well as the challenges faced by newcomers to the United States and the experiences of immigrants and refugees, World Relief’s Immigration Legal Services team builds relationships with people amid these stressful circumstances and becomes a vital source of information, counsel, and legal representation. They are problem solvers with people who have complex legal needs. They become trusted allies.

Meet María

María’s story shows how World Relief staff build relationships when providing legal representation. Like many others, María came to World Relief through a referral by a friend. She felt like she had tried everything, and yet was getting nowhere. She was exhausted by the complex and costly legal system. Then her friend recommended she visit World Relief.

Even though I did my citizenship process in the middle of the pandemic, this amazing team of lawyers did everything for me by Zoom – no contact – helping and guiding me through every step.

María, an immigration legal services client

Not only did María receive legal help with her immigration process once, and then twice, but she ended up referring other family members too! After completing her naturalization process to become a U.S. Citizen, María wrote this letter to express her thanks.

Read the Letter from a New U.S. Citizen 

Hello! Greetings. My name is María. I was born in Venezuela. Because of the complicated and delicate social and political situation in my country, I decided to come to this country [the United States] nine years ago. I met my husband in 2015. When we decided to get married, we needed guidance. After calling various immigration lawyers, it was too much information [for us] to process. We felt at a loss. 

A friend of mine recommended we call World Relief.  

We made an appointment. We met with one of their dear lawyers, Emily, and she guided us through the whole process. Everything went quite fast, [with] never an obstacle or mistake. It was a flawless process.

This was the reason we decided, when it was time, to also apply for my citizenship with World Relief.

Even though I did my citizenship process in the middle of the pandemic, this amazing team of lawyers did everything for me by Zoom – no contact – always helping and guiding me through every step.

Again, no mistakes. They were always so careful and checked every document that we filled out, making sure that no errors were made. It was also quite faster than expected.  

I received my interview date in just eight months although it was supposed to take a year or more. [World Relief] helped me check the process. I’m not very good with computers and technology, but they were always there to help, always answered all my questions by phone or email. They also guided me through all the possible scenarios for the citizenship interview. It all ran smoothly, I brought everything they told me and followed their instructions.  

I’m a very happy and proud citizen now, and I am sure I would not have been able to do this without World Relief. I am very thankful for all their guidance and help.  

I pray you can continue helping others as you helped me. Thank you so much. 



Helping Our Immigrant Neighbors Thrive

World Relief Chicagoland walks with people like María to serve immigrant community members on the path to stable immigration status, giving them the security and peace-of-mind they need to flourish in the U.S.

Do you or someone you know need immigration legal services? Are you interested in providing more people like María with trusted legal guides to navigate their immigration process? You can help new Americans reunite with their family, become citizens, gain work authorization, and achieve protection from violence.

Learn more about World Relief Chicagoland’s Immigration Legal Services program.

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