FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The immigration office in Fresno is encouraging migrants from other countries who are here legally, to apply for citizenship.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services office is located on the Old Warehouse Row neighborhood in Downtown Fresno.
Inside, folks are waiting for appointments to handle various immigration issues.
Phillip Shearer and his wife, who is from Thailand, came to the office from Tehachapi.
"We are trying to get her status change for her to get her green card," he said.
Being married to a US citizen can speed the process, as long as the applying immigrant entered the country legally.
Walter Alvarado has been here for about 7 years. He was able to come because of family, already here legally.
"My mother, my sister they were all here I was pretty much the last one remaining in El Salvador," Walter said. "Thank God they made the petition for me and I'm here."
The new director of the Fresno Office of US Citizenship and Immigration Service says becoming a citizen is not necessarily difficult.
"If you followed the law followed the processes correctly and you've been complying with the laws, haven't gotten in trouble with the police, the process is not restrictive we are open to immigrants," director Lynn Feldman said.
For residents who entered the country legally, lived in the US for at least 5 years and have obeyed the law, the process can take less than 6 months.
Alvarado got through even faster, and he applied in February.
"Wonderful," he said. "Yes, it was really fast. I was expecting it to be a long process, but, no, it was awesome."
Walter will soon be taking part in one of the monthly citizenship ceremonies.
Most are held at the convention center, and, several times a year, they are held at the scenic Glacier Point in Yosemite. While the Fresno office processes about 7,000 citizenship a year, Feldman says many more could qualify.
"It's obvious we have a customer base that is seeking to become citizens to be part of the legal American society that we have," she said. "We also know there is a good population in the Central Valley who have not gone through that final process and we are encouraging them to do so."