A COUPLE of recent letters arrived from long-time permanent residents asking about U.S. citizenship, and help in dealing with the process. One of the readers said Internet access was not a possibility, and that paying for a lawyer to help navigate the process would be an impossibility.

There is plenty of free and excellent help available for people who need it. Though in many instances it's necessary to use a lawyer when dealing with U.S. immigration matters, naturalization cases are fairly straight-forward, provided that the applicant has met the requirements and hasn't been in trouble with the law.

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center has offices in the Bronx (718-324-3039) and Queens (718-478-5502), and is available to provide help to callers in a number of areas, including citizenship. Counselors are available to assist naturalization applicants with paperwork through scheduled appointments, so it's important to call one of the offices to confirm a date and time. The center also offers assistance to those with other immigration-related issues, and is a valuable resource for those seeking essentials such as employment referrals and computer training skills. Visit the website at www.eiic.org.

The Aisling Irish Community Center is located in Yonkers, and also provides a similar range of services. Contact them at 914-237-5121. In Boston, call the Irish Immigration Center at 617-542-1900.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) also offers a toll-free number where callers can obtain live assistance from an agency rep. Call 1-800-375-5283, but be prepared for a significant wait time.