St. James Cathedral – Immigrant Assistance 907 Columbia St, Seattle, WA 98104
About our services

Our staff and volunteers provide ESL tutoring, citizenship preparation, assistance on naturalization applications, and activities for elders.

Some information about what we did last year:

  • 330 immigrants and refugees helped
  • 31 languages spoken by those we helped (Russian and Spanish most prevalent)
  • Those helped were from Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia (in order of most to least)
  • 100 volunteers (mostly through tutoring English or citizenship preparation)

Read about the people we’ve helped over the years.

ESL Tutoring

Immigrants enrolled in our ESL often have multiple and persistent barriers such as multiple jobs, health issues, lack of transportation or childcare. Those who have never been in a school often don’t do well in classroom settings and classes seldom address their immediate needs. Our tutoring offers individualized instruction tailored to people’s immediate and specific needs. It includes right, responsibilities, and cross–cultural information. When volunteers give freely of their time and energy, it shows a level of welcoming and support that means more to immigrants than anything else we do. Contact Glenda Caldwell, ESL Specialist at 206-382-4511 or

Citizenship Preparation Tutoring and Classes

Many people are fearful, anxious, and confused about applying for citizenship. To pass the interview, they have to answer questions about their application, learn the answers to nearly 100 civics questions, and read, speak and write English at an intermediate level. The pressure of the interview can cause people to forget the English they know, the answers to questions on the application, or the civics they’ve learned. Our citizenship classes are usually no more than 10 participants, use a standard curriculum, include everything needed to pass the interview, and offer a sense of comradery and support. Tutoring is available for people who cannot attend or thrive in a class. Contact Glenda Caldwell, ESL Specialist at 206-382-4511 or

Naturalization Application Assistance – BIA Accredited and Recognized

Applying for U.S citizenship is often confusing and stressful. There are options for fee waivers, age waivers, and disability-based waivers. The rules, exemptions, and opportunities are neither straight-forward nor easily understood. It’s a detailed and daunting task. We shepherd applicants throughout the process including screening, collecting documentation, filling out and filing the application, following up on requests for further evidence, providing mock interviews for practice, and attending citizenship interviews. After becoming a citizen, we help new citizens to understand their rights, responsibilities, and benefits. Contact Patrick Suhrbier, Immigration Legal Services Coordinator at 206-382-4511 or

Elder Integration

Starting over in a new country is especially difficult for older immigrants. In addition to leaving their home and loved ones, they often have to deal with cognitive declines, health problems, isolation, and loss of independence. This is compounded by losing established roots, relationships, and a way of life where old age was equated with wisdom and privilege. Through presentations and field trips, our Elder Groups learn about a wide variety of issues such as public transportation, healthy eating, urgent care vs. emergency rooms, taxes, elections, etc. ESL and cross-cultural information is incorporated into all activities. Contact Tania Rzhondkovska at 206-382-4511 or

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