The Cuyahoga County Soldiers Monument located on Public Square in Cleveland, Ohio


If you consider moving to Cleveland, a city that each year welcomes close to 3,000 people who decide to become new citizens, you probably want to find out what this city and the state of Ohio can offer to newcomers.

Ohio lost about 183,000 native-born Ohioans over the past six years. Still, over that same period, nearly 113,000 immigrants moved into the state. Not only immigration helped Ohio’s population stabilize, but they were also a source of growth.

According to the report “Our Pathway to a Brighter Future: Ohio’s New Americans,” Ohio’s newest residents could help reverse its declining population. Immigrants can provide much-needed innovation and diversity of ideas and can offer a solution to the looming shortage of workers in fields like healthcare.

Required tests in English and civics, costly application fees, and long processing times make the path to citizenship longer and more complicated than ever. Moreover, the likelihood of being approved for citizenship varies according to where you live. Still, there are numbers of applicants being denied.

However, Cleveland has its advantages. While Cleveland is the fourth-oldest city in the country in its citizens’ age, it takes the No. 1 place in the United States to become a U.S. citizen.

This fact is based on a last-year-released study by Boundless Immigration that ranked 103 major metropolitan areas and 86 USCIS field offices according to significant barriers to citizenship, using the relevant federal data.

On both its lists, Cleveland came on top. It was named the “Best City to Become a U.S. Citizen” with the “Best Field Office to Become a U.S. Citizen.” An average time processing an application for citizenship in Cleveland is only four months, which is the shortest time in the country, while the average waiting period nationally is more than twice that at ten months.

Although Cleveland can be proud of its rich immigration history and the mentioned achievements, the city has specific challenges when it comes to attracting immigrants. While Philadelphia welcomed 113,000 immigrants between 2000 and 2006, Cleveland lost another 7 percent of its population and became almost entirely native-born.

Yet, if you consider moving to Cleveland, the city definitely has a lot to offer. Let’s look through what Cleveland may provide to its newcomers and if it is worth a try.

Scene at the Cleveland's Public Auditorium during the 1936 Republican National Convention.

Brief History of Immigration in Cleveland

In the period from 1870 – 1930, it seemed like people from every country in the world came to Cleveland. The tremendous influx of immigrants brought people from Poland, Ireland, Czech, Slovakia, Germany, England, Scotland, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Hungaria, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Lithuania, Greece, and people from two dozen other nations. They all together contributed to the growth of the city as one of the major industrial centers.

During this period, the lack of large-scale economic opportunity provided little attraction for migration to the region. Following the canal’s completion and a rail network, the area’s economic potential grew, particularly in mercantile endeavors. It became more attractive to migrating groups.

The most diverse migration occurred after this period until World War I ended large-scale European immigration. Still, the city’s need for people continued attracting thousands of blacks that came north to work in wartime industries which met the workforce’s need.

During World War II, special acts permitting the immigration of displaced persons from Europe were adopted. Those helped to partially replenish some of the older European immigrant populations of the city.

In the immediate postwar period, Cleveland welcomed immigrants from Puerto Rican, Mexico, and Cuba. The relaxation of restrictions on Asian immigration brought people from China, Korea, India, and Pakistan to the city. Besides the industry, many of those were attracted by the colleges and the growth of medical and research sectors.

Although not as large as previous immigrant groups, first groups of Vietnamese, Guatemalans, and Palestinians that came during the 1970s and 1980s represented a complete shift in Cleveland’s migration pattern. In conclusion, the international situation and economic position of Cleveland have shaped the nature of migration to the city in the past.

They will continue to do so as long as the area remains economically viable. English immigration to the area, for instance, continued into the 1990s, as did the movement of native-born white Americans, as well as Bosnians.

USCIS Cleveland

How Cleveland Attracts Immigrants Today?

Cleveland is a city that’s been in economic decline for decades. Looking at growth strategies, it is in need of a plan that will attract more immigrants. In the article, Cleveland was celebrated as a self-confident and growing city in the first half of the 20th century.

Yet, due to de-industrialization, closing factories, unemployment rising, a sharp decline in the city’s good fortune, and population followed.

According to the New American Economy and based on national rankings, Cleveland rose significantly to No. 14 in 2019, evaluating how easy it is for immigrants to become part of the community, compared to the previous year when it ended up on place No. 64.

One of the reasons is that immigrants in Cleveland have accessibility to many governmental resources, which makes their and their families’ living in this city more convenient. Thanks to the USCIS field office with the best processing time of applications, Cleveland ended up on the top of the list to become a U.S citizen, as stated earlier in the text.

The fingerprint office- Cleveland, OH – Application Support Center is located at 1240 East 9th Street, and it is accessible to people with disabilities. The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, Cleveland Immigration Court, as well as five Immigrants Jails that have contracts to house ICE detainees are at disposal to support families and individuals in need.

Then, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a law enforcement organization in charge of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the United States, has established one of its offices in this city, as well as Sandusky Bay Station that is situated near Cleveland.

Due to national diversity, many consulates and offices of government affairs, such as Denish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Franch, Hungarian, Italian, German, are established in Cleveland.

Here is the list of Foreign representations in Cleveland:

  1. Denmark – Consulate
  2. Germany – Consulate
  3. Hungary – Consulate General
  4. Luxembourg – Consulate
  5. Netherlands – Consulate
  6. Romania – Consulate General
  7. Serbia – Consulate General
  8. Slovenia – Consulate General
  9. Sweden – Consulate
  10. Switzerland – Consulate
  11. Ukraine – Consulate

When it comes to healthcare- you don’t be worried about it in Cleveland. Tout as one of the top four hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, the Cleveland Clinic is known for its innovative and groundbreaking medical accomplishments.

The first near-total face transplant and the discovery of an intestinal bacteria product that can predict heart disease. This research hospital follows a patient’s first principle and delivers outstanding care.

Moreover, Because of the law schools in the area, world-renowned hospitals and universities, and rich immigration history, several prominent Cleveland immigration law firms have been built. They can provide you with legal advice, help you with the preparation of documents, or representation in courts.

For example, law office Herman Legal Group, one of the best immigration law offices, is a 3-minute walk away from USCIS, and only about 10 minutes to Immigration Court.

This office serves many clients at this headquarters office, located at 815 superior Ave, Suite 1225, Cleveland, Ohio 4414. Speaking over 12 languages and being in business for 25 years makes the Herman Legal Group highly competent to provide the best possible legal aid to people coming from abroad.

There are many other notable immigration and border lawyers and law offices such as Svetlana Schreiber, Irina Vinogradsky, Sarmiento, Sintsirnas & Mueller, and Linetsky, and many more. If you would like to find out more about legal help that you can get, check out the list of Top 10 Immigration lawyers in Cleveland.

The importance of accessibility to these primary immigration resources is only one way of how newcomers may benefit if they choose to move to Cleveland. Further through the article, we will look through more of how much the community is welcoming, supportive, and open to cherish cultural diversity.

The abbreviation "DOT ORG" written in vintage metal letterpress type in a wooden drawer with dividers.

Organizations that Provide Help to Immigrants

Trying to enrich Cleveland’s population and attract more people to move there, Cleveland’s community became a strong support to the newcomers.

In Cleveland’s metro area, many political and professional organizations work closely with immigrants and the community toward inclusion. Some of those are:

There are plenty of non-profit organizations that provide support to specific groups of immigrants, such as Catholic Charities, Diocese of Cleveland and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and The International Institute of Akron (IIA), which offer low-cost legal services for immigrants.

Then, Asian Services in Action (ASIA), The Spanish American Committee, and Esperanza are organizations that work on improving academic achievements and socio-economic position of distinct immigrant groups.

Besides these, there are many other non-profit organizations in this metro area. More about nonprofits that serve immigrants you can find here. (link to the article from the cluster).

To cherish individuals who have made a valuable and lasting contribution to Cleveland’s multiculturality, founded The Cleveland International Hall of Fame.

Cleveland Asian Festival

Culture and Religion in Cleveland

Cleveland is a diverse community situated on Lake Erie’s shores, which is a great place to take a walk around or spend some time on one of the cleanest beaches in the country.

But here, we will not talk about what you can explore on your own just by walking around and meeting a new place as you would do anywhere. Instead, we will highlight what Cleveland does to make their newcomers feel excelling in the city and demonstrating how cherishable diversity is.

We will start with the best example of Cleveland’s multiculturalism: The Cleveland Cultural Gardens. It is one of Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most beautiful treasures. Compiling of 33 dedicated gardens, the site is designed and cultivated by distinct cultural or nationality groups.

These gardens represent the diverse and multicultural characteristics of Cleveland. The Cleveland Cultural Gardens share one important principle: peace through mutual understanding.

Notable poets, philosophers, peacemakers, composers, scientists, and others are represented in the gardens. Some of the famous names are Goethe (German Garden), Chopin (Polish Garden), Dante (Italian Garden), Nikola Tesla (Serbian Garden), Mark Twain (American Garden), Gandhi (Indian Garden) and many others.

Cleveland recognizes the importance of having houses of worship that will gather a group or individuals to practice religion or perform acts of devotion.

If you are a keen listener to alternative music or just feel like you would instead read the news in your maternity language, we encourage you to explore local ethnic media in Cleveland.

There are diverse media channels, television, radio stations, or online news directed to specific communities such as Panorama Hispano News, Cleveland Russian Magazine, Cleveland Jewish News, and many more. One of the largest and most popular Hispanic media companies is La Mega Media. This radio station you can also find at 97.7 FM.

Not being surprised since Cleveland is a multicultural city, but it is home to some outstanding ethnic festivals where you can listen to authentic music and explore tastes of food from all around the world. Here are some of the celebrations being organized each year:

  1. Cleveland Asian Festival
  2. Tremont Greek Festival
  3. Simply Slavic Heritage Festival
  4. Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
  5. Little Italy Summer Art Festival
  6. Ohio Scottish Games and Celtic Festival
  7. Cleveland Russian Festival
  8. Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest
  9. India Festival USA
  10. Romanian Festival

Yet, festivals are not the only opportunity to get to know your community better and try traditional food from countries around the globe. You can buy and eat Mexican tacos in La Plaza Supermarket, or try freshly-baked pastries in Athens Pastries and Imported Foods. There are plenty of ethnic groceries around!

library books for students

Education and Career

Known as the “North Coast,” with more than 20 institutions that’ll prepare you for a future in neuroscience, engineering, music, and more, Cleveland has everything you need for smooth sailing in your education and career.

Many companies found their place in Cleveland, including one of America’s best hospitals, The Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland has been ranked as one of the most livable cities and named an emerging global city. If you come to the Midwest, it means you’ll be living and working with some of the most helpful people in the country.

To attract students and support them through their years at universities, many colleges established international offices.

Here is the list of some of the best colleges in Cleveland with International Student Services support are:

  1. Case Western Reserve University
  2. Oberlin College
  3. Baldwin Wallace University
  4. Ursuline College
  5. Cleveland State University
  6. Cleveland Institute of Art
  7. Cleveland Institute of Music

If your career path is in medical science, then learning about opportunities at some hospitals might be of interest. At area hospitals, there are foreign medical graduate training organized.

Cleveland Clinic offers international education opportunities through a diverse range of programs in Cardiology, Gastroenterology, Pulmonary Medicine, and Infectious diseases.

MetroHealth is home to 47 vibrant residency and fellowship programs. Each year, it trains more than 2,000 students, residents, and fellows. At this faculty, you will work with members who have a deep sense of dedication to their work and get the opportunity to see a wide range of clinical cases.

Cleveland Browns Stadium

Leisure Time and Sports in Cleveland

If you are always on the move, active, and like sports, you will love residing in Cleveland. This city is home to the famous clubs in different sports leagues: Cleveland Cavaliers, an NBA team where one of the best basketball players- LeBron James currently plays, The Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball Team, and Cleveland Browns, an NFL team.

Cleveland is also known as “The Forest City,” serving as the center of the Cleveland Metroparks nature reserve system that nature lovers will be happy to hear about. The majority of the reservations are in the suburbs of Cuyahoga County, but Brookside Reservation is located within Cleveland. The city sits on Lake Eri that has the most popular beach- Edgewater Beach to hang out during summer.

Of course, culture and architecture in the city are worth seeing and visiting. The Cleveland’s major cultural institutions include the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra, Playhouse Square, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After exploring the city on foot or if you want to find some nice place to meet your friends, you can choose one of more than 30 breweries in the city. Having more than 70 breweries makes Greater Cleveland the fourth largest in the country in the number of breweries.

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