New citizens take the oath during a special naturalization ceremony at Baltimore’s Washington Monument on July 4, 2015. (Official DHS photo by Barry Bahler)

USCIS Accepting Applications for Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that it is now accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program. These opportunities provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country. These competitive grant opportunities are for organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics.

USCIS seeks to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services throughout the country with these two grant opportunities.

The first is the Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services. This grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction as well as naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents. The program requirements include:

  • Instruction in U.S. history and government for test preparation and the promotion of civic assimilation in English. Applications to provide instruction in languages other than English will be deemed ineligible;
  • Activities that promote civic and linguistic assimilation;
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in reading, writing, and speaking;
  • Instruction on the naturalization process and eligibility interview;
  • The use of a nationally normed standardized test of English proficiency to place and assess progress of all students enrolled under this program. At least 80 percent of post tested students must demonstrate educational gains as evidenced by increased standardized test scores;
  • The use of the Assessment of Adult Citizenship Education provided by USCIS to measure the acquisition of information leading to test preparedness and immigrant assimilation to be administered to all enrolled students;
  • The use of a current adult citizenship textbook that aligns with the skill level of the students in the class (published textbooks only, compilations of worksheets or handouts will not be accepted); all students must be issued a textbook for their own personal use.

The second grant will fund the Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. This grant will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will help them to obtain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship and to foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States.

  • The development of an assimilation plan for each LPR who will receive services. The intent of this requirement is to develop an assimilation road map for LPRs who have identified naturalization as a goal, including those who are not yet ready to apply for naturalization and may require interim services to attain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship.
  • Provision of or referral to assimilation services that address the specific needs identified in the LPR’s individual assimilation plan. Grantees must offer access to a range of services designed to foster long-term assimilation and tailored to the specific needs of the target population.
  • Civics-based literacy instruction, civics-based ESL instruction, and citizenship instruction to provide enrolled clients with the skills and knowledge needed to prepare for citizenship.
    • Students whose English level is not at the appropriate level for citizenship instruction classes should be served through civics-based literacy and/or civics-based ESL instruction. The applicant may directly provide this instruction or use a partner to provide these classes. The applicant must propose to enroll and pre- and post-test a minimum of 150 LPRs enrolled in the civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, or citizenship classes.
  • Provision of naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law at no cost to the enrolled client. Naturalization application services cannot be provided to individuals who have not received other services under this grant. Services can be delivered by either the primary applicant or a partner sub-awardee organization.

Since 2009, USCIS has awarded approximately $73 million through 353 grants to immigrant-serving organizations. These organizations have provided citizenship preparation services to more than 200,000 lawful permanent residents in 37 states and the District of Columbia. USCIS expects to announce award recipients in September.

Kalyna White is the STEM Ambassador to the Board of Directors for Women in Homeland Security. She is the founder of LABUkraine, a non-profit organization that builds computer labs for orphans in Ukraine. Since 2011 she has worked with Women in Homeland Security to encourage middle and high school student to pursue STEM careers by organizing and supporting field trips to STEM missions throughout the homeland security enterprise.

Leave a Reply