Today is Citizenship Day (aka “Constitution Day”), which commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitutionin 1787 and recognizes the efforts of people who have made the decision to become American citizens. It’s a great occasion to ask this question: Did you know that there are more than 8 million green card holders in this country (sometimes called “the forgotten 8 million”) who could become U.S. residents right now—if they only wanted to?

In the U.S. there are more than 8 million green card holders who could become residents right now. Photo courtesy of the New Americans Campaign.

Pro Bono Net is pleased to be taking part in Citizenship DayThe National Immigration Forum is partnering with the New Americans Campaign to host a press conference and reception in Washington D.C. to highlight the importance of citizenship services and showcase the way NAC’s national partners have been pushing forward innovations in the field. Pro Bono Net’s Executive Director, Mark O’Brien, will present on the intersection of technology and citizenship services.

“Immigrants are often early adopters of technology, which is why CitizenshipWorks provides easy-to-use online tools to help low and moderate income individuals answer important questions about their eligibility, better understand the process and prepare for their citizenship tests,” says O’Brien.

Details on NAC celebrates Citizenship Day can be found here.

The New Americans Campaign aims to modernize the ways in which service providers help these Lawful Permanent Residents embark on the naturalization process. But to many green card holders it is tempting to maintain the status quo because they think they’re only missing out on the ability to vote. Many don’t realize that there are economic benefits—both for the individual and the nation—to becoming a citizen. For example, a study published in December 2012 by the University of Southern California (“Citizen Gain”) found that citizenship alone can boost individual earnings by 8 percent to 11 percent, leading to a potential $21 billion to $45 billion increase in cumulative earnings over 10 years nationwide. Becoming a U.S. citizen confers other benefits as well: Citizens often become more engaged in their communities, they gain the ability to sponsor family members for immigration, and many government employment opportunities require citizenship.

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, simply enter your ZIP code for a list of free legal aid providers near you to get started with your citizenship application. CitizenshipWorks provides easy-to-use online tools to help you answer important questions about your eligibility for naturalization. CitizenshipWorks also has a free app for Android and iOS phones, which can help you get started.

The NAC site has a collection of materials about the economic benefits of citizenship, and a list of activities being sponsored by NAC partners throughout the month of September.

So on this Citizenship Day, if you are a green card holder, mark this special occasion and “zip to citizenship” by entering your ZIP code.  Just give it a try.