What or Who is a New American?

Posted On: March 28, 2019

While there are many government and private, non-profit 501(c)3 organizations supporting newcomers to the US, I was hard-pressed to find a proper definition for the term ‘New American’ or ‘New Americans.’ More interestingly, these two terms can bring up wildly different search results on Google. Additionally, articles or videos about ‘New Americans’ like I am about to define talked about New Americans but did not offer a definition of this term. Because of this, I thought I’d create a definition for this word not only based on my knowledge of this topic, but also having experience working with some categories of New Americans (expats, refugees, immigrants).


What does the term “New American” mean?

Naturalization Ceremony at the Grand Canyon
Individuals becoming New Americans at a Naturalization Ceremony at
the Grand Canyon National Park. (Photo from GCNP @Flickr)

By no means is my attempt at defining this term definitive. There may be other definitions out there that differ from mine. If you are aware of these other definitions, feel free to share them with me.

An attempt to define New Americans by Jennifer Kumar:

An individual in the U.S. who is aspiring to take the Path to U.S. Citizenship, or who has, in the recent past, become a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. 

The phrase “recent past” has purposefully not been defined. This is because each person’s situation is different. Some individuals may feel like a “New American” while waiting for official status change, while some feel it immediately or soon after officially changing citizenship. But, for others, it may still take time to adapt to their new country or culture.

How can I find agencies to help me if I am a New American? 
While, of course, we at Authentic Journeys specialize in supporting and coaching New Americans to succeed in the U.S., there are many other public services (that are probably free of cost) that can help with a variety of services.

To find agencies to help you with a host of services, search for any of the following:

  • “New Americans” and your state name
  • “New Americans” and the county you reside in 
  • “New Americans” followed by your city or metro area 
  • “Services for New Americans in” (state/county/city) 
  • Alternatively, try searching for the term “Immigrant services” with the city, county or state

Note that some services could also be provided through religious-based organizations. Check out an agency’s about page to learn what their mission, values and approach is. One example of this is an agency called Immigrant Hope, serving Idaho and Wyoming.

What will an Office of New Americans help me with?
Services provided from agency to agency may differ, but some common services may include:

  • English language classes*
  • employment assistance, job readiness, and programs for entrepreneurs* 
  • legal assistance 
  • parent education
  • case management 
  • classes to prepare for the citizenship test
  • referrals for local childcare and/or education services 
  • US culture orientation and social adjustment assistance*
  • health and medical referrals
  • translation and interpretation services
  • links to cultural and spiritual organizations 
  • others as identified by area or need*

There are many New Americans who are highly skilled and educated either in the US or from their native country. Many of these programs focus on building self-sufficiency and reducing brain waste among the many immigrants that want to utilize their skills here in the U.S.

Note: The list items above defined with an asterisk are also services provided by Authentic Journeys. In some cases, especially with language services, if a candidate tests at too high an English proficiency level, they may be referred out to an English school or tutor. Call or contact us instead!

Some Examples of New Americans Service Agencies
(Focus on the Inter-mountain West):
Agency for New Americans, Boise, Idaho
Friendly House, Phoenix, Arizona
Emily Griffith Technical College (Colorado)
Global Talent Idaho
Immigrant Services, Jackson, Wyoming (Teton County)
Mayor’s Office for New Americans, Salt Lake City, Utah
Soft Landing Missoula, Montana

Other areas in the US:
Imprint: Immigrant Professional Integration
Office for Refugees and Immigrants, Massachusetts
Office of New Americans, Office of the Mayor, Chicago, Illinois
Preparing Foreign-Born Talent for Careers in the USA (Des Moines, Iowa)
Skilled Immigrants in America (New Jersey)
Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning (Aids Internationally-trained health care providers in Colorado)
Upwardly Global

What time of the year do individuals become New Americans (US Citizens)? 
It seems Naturalization Ceremonies can take place on any day of the year, sometimes as soon as you complete your interview, which is the fifth of six steps in the process as detailed below.

Process to become a United States Citizen:

  1. Step One: Find Out Whether You Are Eligible. The first question is whether you have a U.S. green card (lawful permanent residence).
  2. Step Two: Overcome Barriers to Your Ineligibility. 
  3. Step Three: File USCIS Form N-400.
  4. Step Four: Get Fingerprinted. 
  5. Step Five: Attend a Citizenship Interview. 
  6. Step Six: Attend the Oath Ceremony.

Most recently, I have seen many announcements and news stories for new citizenship ceremonies being held on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day (September 17, yearly) and on Flag Day (June 14).

The location of the ceremony may vary based on when you are eligible to become a citizen. Some may happen right on the spot in the immigration office, without much fanfare, while others may happen in public locations like Capitol Buildings, community centers, schools, and other prominent places. I also read some naturalization ceremonies take place in National Parks!

This video is a news story from California, where new Americans recite the Oath of Allegiance at Yosemite National Park.

In the next video, we can see how the local TV news KXLF in Butte, Montana covered a naturalization ceremony.

What is it like to become a New American?

Have you went through the process of becoming a New American? Feel free to share your story with us. We also provide coaching and assistance to help skilled immigrants, international students, expats and others thrive in global, diverse business environments. Get in touch with us to discuss further. 

As a side note from the author; as an interculturalist, I am not 100% comfortable to use the word ‘American’ to describe the citizenship status of those who naturalize in the United States. It may be more accurate to say a “New U.S. American.” Why? Well America includes both North and South America. So, technically, a Canadian could be an American, just as much as a Chinese is an Asian. In fact, other interculturists and cross-cultural experts tend to agree on this. To add to this, once I met a Chilean in the US who got very upset with me when I said I was American. He said to me, “I hope you know I am an American, too. I, of course am from South America, so South American, but also American. Why have US Americans monopolized this term?” It was an eye opener for me!


Related Posts:
Test your knowledge of immigration myths (eye opening)
I am an Immigrant, celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month in various US cities in June 
Learn about the US States, Birthdays, and More Trivia
See a full length citizenship ceremony that took place at Grand Canyon National Park

Note: The agencies listed in this post do not have any affiliation with Authentic Journeys, nor has Authentic Journeys worked with these agencies. They are being shared as a resource to the readers of this website.


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