U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has awarded close to $10 million in grant money to 46 organizations dedicated to helping permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship. With the grants, USCIS expects the these fiscal year 2016 funds to aid more than 37,000 permanent residents in 21 states around the country to achieve citizenship.
The USCIS grant program, which began in 2009, has now awarded a total of $63 million and has aided more than 156,000 permanent residents in the country prepare for citizenship.The Citizenship and Integration Grant Program awards public and private nonprofit organizations with funds. Now in its eighth years, USCIS has awarded 308 grants to organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
“There is a great need for citizenship preparation services throughout the country,” USCIS Director León Rodríguez said in a late August USCIS release. “Grant recipient organizations provide critical services to immigrants as they pursue their dream of U.S. citizenship.”
Grant awards, which will be used for citizenship preparedness for permanent residents by Sept. 30, 2018, this year includes newly created grant opportunities. FY 2016 awards includes grants intended to assist nonprofit organizations working to establish new citizenship instruction programs or working to expand the quality and reach of existing citizenship instruction programs. With the awards for the fiscal year, USCIS sought to encourage the expansion of the existing field of citizenship instruction programs. In particular, USCIS emphasized those programs offered by small, community-based organizations that had not yet received USCIS grants previously.
USCIS describes the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program as a “major part of USCIS’ efforts to support effective citizenship preparation services and provide information to immigrants and public or private nonprofit organizations,” according to the release. USCIS notes other efforts that include the Citizenship Resource Center, which is a web resource that provides learning materials to help permanent residents prepare for the naturalization process. USCIS also partners with federal and municipal agencies with the purpose of raising awareness of the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship. The agency’s efforts are designed to reach the estimated 8.8 million permanent residents nationwide eligible to apply for naturalization.
More information on the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program is available at www.uscis.gov/grants.