SAN JOSE (KCBS) — The path to citizenship for permanent resident card holders in Silicon Valley may become easier as a number of Silicon Valley companies announced on Monday that they are getting directly involved in helping eligible employees become citizens—for free.

Nokia, DTZ, Technology Credit Union and ABM were at the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce to announcing their joining “the Bethlehem Project”—a year-old, nonprofit program that provides funds and assistance for employees who have the documents – often called a green card – including on-site citizenship classes.

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“The Bethlehem Project works with businesses to assist their eligible immigrant employees with the citizenship process so they become full participants in the workplace, community, and economy,” says the company website.

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“The technology community has a lot of need for highly skilled individuals—many of whom are immigrants,” said Barbara Kamm, CEO of Technology Credit Union. “We have about 33 percent of our members coming from Asia and Southeast Asia. We also have about 15 percent coming from the Hispanic community, and issue of citizenship is very important to them.”

It’s estimated that, in the San Jose area, there are about half a million immigrants that are eligible for citizenship.

The program is running in five cities: San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and Washington, D.C.

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The Silicon Valley program will be funded by the New Americans Campaign, the Grove Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation.