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Jul 01, 2019 04:44 PM EDT

USCIS Grants: What You Need to Know

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In 2018, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced a grant program that offers up to $10 million for citizen preparation programs across the country. These agencies help lawful permanent residents prepare for their naturalization petitions as well as tests, interviews and other aspects of the naturalization process.

There are two funding opportunities available through the USCIS.

Who Can Apply for the Grants?

According to the Law Offices of Cheng, Cho, & Yee, a law firm that specializes in immigration law, the grant program is only available to agencies, so individuals cannot apply. The goal is to help residents have a greater chance of succeeding in their petitions for naturalization.

As mentioned previously, there are two grants available through USCIS, and they each have their own requirements. Both grants are only available to organizations - not individuals.

Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services Grant

This grant fund is available for up to 36 organizations that offer naturalization application services and citizenship instruction to lawful permanent residents.

The program has several requirements, including:

  • Activities that promote linguistic and civic assimilation

  • Instruction on the eligibility interview as well as the naturalization process

  • Instruction for test preparation covering which includes U.S. history and government as well as civic assimilation in English

  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in speaking, reading and writing

  • Use of the USCIS's Assessment of Adult Citizenship Education

  • Use of standardized test of English proficiency to place and assess the progress of students enrolled in the program

  • Use of a current adult citizenship textbook that aligns with student's skill level

There may be other stipulations in addition to these requirements.

Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program Grant

The second grant is used to fund the Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. The program provides funds for up to four organizations which offer individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States via the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum.

These services are aimed at helping residents obtain the knowledge and skills they need for successful citizenship.

Organizations must meet several requirements in order to be considered, which include:

  • Citizenship instruction, civics-based ESL instruction, and civics-based literacy instruction provided to enrolled clients

  • Development of an assimilation plan for each resident who receives services

  • The provision of or a referral to assimilation services which address the specific needs identified in the resident's assimilation plan

  • Provide naturalization application services "within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law" at no charge to the client

There may be other stipulations or requirements associated with this grant, so it's important for organizations to do their research before applying.

The USCIS has awarded at least $73 million through more than 350 grants to immigrant-serving organizations since 2009. These funds have helped more than 200,000 lawful permanent residents in more than 35 states. The application process is very competitive, so agencies seeking grants should begin preparing their applications early on and be on the lookout for information about deadlines for the next funding round.

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