LegalHealth helping Clients Naturalize

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Stories about LegalHealth attorneys helping clients naturalize, allowing them to be eligible for certain benefits only available to American citizens.

Clementina Whyte

Clementina Whyte and her husband Theodore Whyte were referred to LegalHealth by their geriatric social worker at

Kings County Hospital. Theodore had developed cancer and Clementina had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. They had no income. The elderly couple had emigrated from Guyana 10 years before and each had obtained green cards. They wanted to become naturalized citizens, so both applied in 2008, but only Theodore was granted citizenship. Clementina was unable to pass the civics and history test. She wanted to apply again, but they could not afford the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fee and they were even more concerned about Clementina’s ability to pass the tests due to her Alzheimer’s.

LegalHealth attorneys Ann Dibble and Regina Rivera helped the Whytes with both issues. First, Ms. Dibble successfully submitted an application for a waiver of the USCIS filing fee. Then, Ms. Rivera advocated for Clementina during her interview to demonstrate that Clementina should be excused from taking the civics and history test due to her Alzheimer’s. Clementina was approved to become a naturalized citizen on December 5, 2012 and was sworn in on the same day.

The partnership between Kings County Hospital and LegalHealth launched in April 2005. Since then, LegalHealth has served over 1,600 patients with various legal issues at Kings County Hospital.

Galo Sanchez

When Galo Sanchez, a patient at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, told his doctor he was worried about household expenses, his physician referred him to LegalHealth. To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Galo had to be a naturalized citizen so he met with a LegalHealth attorney who helped him navigate this process. On January 29, 2013 Galo went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office with Nina Pejoves, his LegalHealth attorney, and was granted a medical exemption because he was wheelchair-bound with multiple healthcare issues. He had his naturalization application approved, and took the oath of citizenship.

“Our goal of bringing together legal and medical professionals to address nonmedical issues helps improve the lives of patients and their families where and when they need it most,” said Ms. Pejoves, the attorney who assisted Galo with his case.

The partnership between Montefiore Medical Center and LegalHealth launched in January 2012. “Through this partnership, in the last year more than 280 Montefiore patients received legal assistance on issues significantly impacting their health,” said Jorge Rodriguez, Director of Operations, Montefiore Medical Group. “We are happy to be a partner and thrilled to know that so many of our patients are benefiting from the service.”