The Office of New Americans (ONA) was established to assist newcomers to New York State and to help new Americans fully participate in New York State civic and economic life. The Center hosts three Office for New Americans programs: The Office for New Americans Opportunity Center, the Community Navigator Program, and the NYS Professional Pathways Program. We are so excited for you to take advantage of these services!
- Naturalization application assistance
- Legal consultation
- Immigration law and policy workshops
- Community workshops and training
- Citizenship classes
- ESOL referrals
- Roundtable discussions
- Community Navigator training for service providers and new Americans
- Personal advising and career guidance for immigrants with degrees and/or professional work experience
- Online courses to improve U.S. workplace and job readiness skills
- Training and certification opportunities in high-demand fields
Key Contact Information
Alesia Baranava, Project Coordinator, ONA Opportunity Center
Kathleen DeLacy, Office for New Americans, Community Navigator
Dan Vellone, Job Coach, NYS Professional Pathways Program
What is the ONA Opportunity Center?
The ONA Opportunity Center will support new Americans through the use of unique programming, including the use of professional staff, in-class technology, and community volunteers to:
- Expand English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL)
- Help eligible youth participate in the new federal deferred action process
- Support interested eligible new Americans through the naturalization application process
- Open entrepreneurship opportunities to new Americans
ONA Opportunity Centers partner with other community-based and government agencies to coordinate and/or host additional programming and support for new American communities. These sites are the focal point for communities to embrace new Americans by volunteering their valuable time to support newcomers. The Office for New Americans Opportunity Center was established in Utica in 2012.
What is the ONA Community Navigator Program?
The ONA Community Navigator Program is a new ONA program designed to localize leadership throughout New York State with a focus on providing accurate and reliable information to low-income immigrant and refugee communities. The ONA Community Navigators:
- Lead local roundtable discussions with traditional and non-traditional immigration allies
- Provide workforce development programs
- Hold community conversations to build bridges and relationships between communities
- Host navigator training to enhance advocacy and organizational skills
The ONA Community Navigator Program is the first state program of its kind in the country that creates a network of local leadership to support low-income immigrant and refugee communities with a variety of economic and cultural programming. The Office for New Americans Community Navigator Program was established in Utica in 2018.
What does the NYS Professional Pathways Program do?
The NYS Professional Pathways program enables high-skilled immigrants to overcome barriers to professional development through the screening, training, and/or re-credentialing of participants and the identification of job placement opportunities for low-income immigrants in six regions of the state.
Who has access to ONA Services?
All new Americans can access ONA Opportunity Center Services for assistance with English classes, the naturalization process, business development, and community information.
New Americans can access the ONA Community Navigator Program for additional support with accessing services.
Organizations and businesses can access the ONA Community Navigator programs to learn more about how they can assist and engage with low-income immigrant and refugee communities.
Does ONA charge for legal consultation?
Legal consultations with the Office for New Americans are FREE. Legal consultations are available twice a month by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Please call to schedule an appointment.
I do not live in Utica or near your office, can you still help me?
Can you help me with my naturalization (citizenship) application?
Yes. The ONA Opportunity Center provides assistance with N-400s, N-600s, and DACA applications. A BIA accredited representative available through The Center’s immigration and citizenship office will assist eligible clients with the completion of naturalization and DACA applications. To schedule an appointment, please contact ONA Project Coordinator, Alesia Baranava.
I need a lawyer for immigration, can ONA help me?
The ONA Opportunity Center partners with the Hiscock Legal Aid Society to provide monthly legal consultation days at The Center. Immigration attorneys can meet with clients, by appointment, to discuss their particular cases and concerns. ONA provides a confidential meeting space and in-person interpretation, as needed. To schedule an appointment, please contact ONA Project Coordinator, Alesia Baranava.
Do you offer workshops and information for the general community?
ONA offers immigration law and policy workshops and community education workshops through the Opportunity Center.
ONA hosts four immigration workshops a year with an attorney that covers relevant immigration law issues, and important issues and changes in federal immigration policy. These workshops are open to the public and interpreters are provided at these workshops in a variety of languages.
ONA also hosts informational workshops and training on topics, including financial literacy, entrepreneurship, disaster preparedness, educational opportunities for adults and children, consumer fraud protection, and more. These workshops are open to the public, and interpreters are provided at these workshops in a variety of languages as well.
Community workshops on different topics are also offered through the Community Navigator Program.
I need help studying for the citizenship exam, can ONA help me?
Yes. We have classes and individual volunteers who can work with you. Citizenship classes are provided to help prepare clients for their citizenship exam. Classes focus on the necessary English language skills, as well as relevant topics in United States civics, history, and government.
Classes are held at the following locations on certain days:
- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at The Center
- Monday and Tuesday from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM at the Utica Public Library
Individual mock (practice) interviews are also available by appointment. To register for classes or to schedule a mock interview, please contact ONA Project Coordinator, Alesia Baranava.
I need help studying English, can ONA help me?
Yes! ONA clients in need of English language instruction will be referred to local ESOL providers. Please visit our Adult Learning page for more information.
Does your office provide education or cultural information to new Americans?
Yes. We offer community education courses on the third Friday of every month. Please visit our Community Education page for more information.