Great news for immigrants needing help to become US citizens. For now, at least. Despite new measures that toughen immigration policy, such as restrictions on work permits for asylum-seekers and President Donald Trump’s proclamation suspending entry of immigrants, the United States government wants to help legal permanent residents obtain U.S. citizenship.
Therefore the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Thursday an economic opportunity for community organizations that provide assistance to immigrants with green cards in the preparation process to become U.S. citizens through naturalization. become US citizens
- Great news for immigrants needing help to become US citizens
Great news for immigrants needing help to become US citizens
USCIS said in a press release that it is now accepting applications for grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country. The Department of Homeland Security agency will provide up to $10 million in grants.
One of the key requirements for obtaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization is the much feared naturalization interview and test, in which immigrants must prove they can read, write and speak basic English, and have essential knowledge of U.S. history and government.
During the interview with a USCIS official, immigrants must answer in English questions about Form N-400, Application for Naturalization and the applicant’s background. US citizens
“These competitive grant opportunities are open to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics,” USCIS said in a statement.
CITIZENSHIP AND ASSIMILATION GRANT PROGRAM
Many pro-immigrant organizations, which usually have limited resources to help low-income foreigners become U.S. citizens, provide citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to green card holders. become US citizens
The grant opportunities, mandated by Congress, are:
▪ Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services
Under this classification, funds will be distributed to 33 organizations that offer legal permanent residents both citizenship education and assistance services for naturalization applications. Education includes English language training, American history, and civic instruction.
Applications must be submitted on or before Aug. 31. become US citizens
▪ Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program
According to USCIS, the goal is to “provide extended assimilation services” for green card holders who entered the country under the auspices of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum to acquire “the skills and knowledge required to successfully pass the naturalization test.”
Up to six organizations could benefit. Applications are also due by Aug. 31.
However, the immigration agency is facing a crippling budget shortfall and has told Congress it urgently needs $1.2 billion in emergency funding amid plans to raise application fees.
On Friday, the agency announced a final rule that increases fees for certain immigration and naturalization benefit requests by an average of 20%. become US citizens
If USCIS doesn’t receive the funding and “should agency staff be furloughed in late August, USCIS anticipates that the grant program could be impacted or even terminated for the fiscal year,” it noted on Thursday’s press release. become US citizens
Green cards are only available to immigrants who fall under one of these categories
REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY FOR U.S. CITIZENSHIP
An immigrant must:
▪ Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing. become US citizens
▪ Live in the United States as a permanent legal resident for five continuous years, or three if he or she got a green card through a U.S. citizen spouse. become US citizens
▪ Show physical presence in the United States for at least 30 months during the last five years, or 18 months if married to an American citizen. become US citizens become US citizens
▪ Show good moral character. This means a clean criminal record for the previous five years, and not submitting false information as part of any immigration form or procedure. (A person with an aggravated felony is ineligible for naturalization.) become US citizens
▪ Be able to read, write and speak basic English, and show knowledge of U.S. history and government.
▪ Be willing to support and defend the United States and the U.S. Constitution. become US citizens
Immigrants can lose their green cards and face deportation if they make these mistakes
It is a long and laborious road to permanent U.S. residence, one that opens a broad spectrum of job possibilities and offers reassurances to immigrants who can then live and work legally in the United States.
But a green card, which leads to U.S. citizenship through naturalization, could be lost through mistakes, status abandonment or deportation orders by immigration judges. become US citizens
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) says these factors, whether intentional or accidental, could be construed as abandoning permanent residence status.
▪ Moving to another country with the intention of living there permanently. become US citizens
▪ Staying abroad for a prolonged period, without proof that the trip is for a short-term visit. become US citizens
The green card is automatically canceled if the trips abroad last more than one year, or if the immigrants take up residence in another country. In either case, USCIS recommends applying for permission to reenter the United States.
▪ Failing to declare income to the Internal Revenue Service and state income tax authorities.
▪ Declaring “nonimmigrant” status on U.S. tax returns. become US citizens
▪ Failing to register for the U.S. military’s Selective Service System, if the immigrants are males between the ages of 18 and 25.
U.S. laws also may cancel permanent residence if an immigration judge issues a final order of deportation because of serious crimes, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A USCIS regulation put in place last year requires immigrants to appear before an immigration court if they have abused any program related to public benefits.
A person can be deported if there’s evidence of “fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency,” the policy memorandum notes.
A deportation order automatically cancels the green card.
Immigrants facing this scenario should seek legal help, because it is very difficult to regain permanent residence status once the green card has been canceled.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) offers an online list of expert professionals licensed to practice law.
Some immigrants also decide to voluntarily abandon their permanent residence status and surrender their green cards, according to USCIS. become US citizens