U.S. to make becoming a citizen a more user friendly experience

by Ray Clancy on September 24, 2015

The United States has launched a new initiative to encourage people to become US citizens, aiming to make the process more user friendly.

During Constitution Week tens of thousands were granted citizenship at a series of celebration across the nation but the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) want to continue to highlight the benefits that it brings.

USflagIMAGEthumbnailIt is launching new efforts to highlight citizenship and immigrant civic integration to improve customer service and support aspiring citizens on their path to naturalization.

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is celebrated each year this week to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution in 1787. Congress first highlighted the significance of US citizenship in 1940 when it designated the third Sunday in May as I Am an American Day.

But in 1952, Congress shifted the date to September 17 and renamed it Citizenship Day which is now known as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day since 2004.

USCIS has announced a renewed partnership with the US Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) to enhance the meaning and stature of citizenship ceremonies. Since the partnership first began in September 2006, USCIS has coordinated special naturalization ceremonies at many of the 400 NPS sites around the country, including eight events as part of USCISí 2015 Constitution Week celebration.

To make it easier naturalization applicants can now use credit cards to pay the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, fee of $595 and the biometrics fee of $85, if applicable.

USCIS will also enter into a formal partnership with the US Department of Agriculture for the Farm Service Agency to provide services to communities with significant numbers of immigrants who are not located near a USCIS office. Services will include biometrics collection, case interviews and information presentations.

Additionally, USCIS has developed new online tools to help permanent residents prepare for naturalization, locate English and citizenship classes, determine eligibility and apply for naturalization.

As part of this a new interactive practice civics test is available in English, with other languages to follow. Individuals can also find English language and citizenship preparation classes in their local area using a new online class locator.

USCIS said it has awarded nearly $10 million in grants to 40 organizations that will help permanent residents, also known as green card holders, prepare and apply for citizenship. Located in 26 states, these organizations will receive funding to support citizenship preparation activities until September 2017.

It has also expanded the Citizenship Public Education and Awareness Campaign, launched in July 2015, into six additional states of New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington and Arizona. The 10 participating states are home to 75% of the country’s lawful permanent residents.

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