Cesare Alessandrini experienced the immigration application process firsthand—twice, in fact—with his parents and his wife. The former immigrated to the United States from Italy in the ’60s. “They were off the boat, too, even though they came later in the century, ” he says.
At 12 years old, Alessandrini remembers the daunting task of helping his parents, who spoke little English, fill out immigration papers. “That kind of defeated me,” he says. Later, when he married his Argentinian-born wife Marina, he witnessed her face similar difficulties. That’s when the light bulb went off.
In 2011, Alessandrini, who previously worked with various tech startups in Silicon Valley, launched FileRight.com, an online service that streamlines the application process for immigrants. The office is located in Henderson (311 North Pecos Rd.) and provides free classes for immigrants trying to acquire citizenship.
Alessandrini says that citizenship applications are rejected all the time, which is often due to mistakes on forms that can be especially confusing for non-English speakers. “We seek to get rid of the immigration paperwork process with human error associated with it,” he says.
FileRight determines eligibility for free. The program makes sure applicants have the correct form: Is the application for citizenship? Is it for a green card or green card renewal? Is it for an individual or their family member? Fees vary depending on the application type. FileRight then helps applicants navigate the forms, which Alessandrini says can be 10 to 15 pages long with an additional 20 pages of instructions. Some are more lengthy.
“We essentially break down those forms into isolated, easy to understand questions,” he says. Eliminating form errors can also save applicants money from having to reapply. In December 2016, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services increased the filing fees an average of 20 percent. Now citizenship applications cost $725 and green card applications cost $1,225.
Alessandrini says there has been a surge in filings for all types of applications recently, but FileRight specifically received a 200 percent increase in citizenship forms within the first three months of 2017.
“There are [8.8] million green-card holders in the U.S. that are eligible for citizenship,“ he says. Given the current [political] climate, we’ve found that a lot of people who once thought their green cards were a safe haven for rights in the U.S., there’re a lot of them who are moving toward becoming citizens.”