In May 2014 a new, longer N-400 form will be released by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is the form that immigrants who have legal permanent resident status must use to apply for naturalization. The changes to the N-400 form include clearer instructions for applicants and the incorporation of technology to make the process of applying for citizenship more accurate and efficient. The new version of the form will allow the USCIS to make important eligibility determinations, but the requirements for eligibility will not change.
The South Asian Network (SAN) discussed the new form which is double in length and may make the application process more difficult for the millions of individuals holding green cards who are eligible for citizenship. According to the SAN, there are priceless benefits of naturalizing for Indian American and other South Asian green card holders. People in these communities can expect wage increases, as well as increased rates of homeownership.
However, barriers to achieving naturalization like limited levels of English language proficiency, limited access to transportation and financial woes still exist for South Asians. According to the South Asian Network, one in five South Asians has a limited knowledge of English, which in turn creates problems for older South Asian green card holders who need assistance to pass the naturalization exam. The SAN plans to provide free ESL services to support those individuals who need help with their English to pass the naturalization exam, with speakers proficient in six different South Asian languages to help them. South Asian green card holders nationwide are encouraged to contact the SAN with any questions they might have about the elongated form.
Currently there is a 90 day window for green card holders to apply for citizenship before the new form is implemented.