Citizenship and Naturalization

Background

Welcome to ILRC's Citizenship & Naturalization page. This page offers information and resources for lawyers, advocates and community organizations. The resources contained on this page are intended to be used by trained attorneys, paralegals and community advocates.

If you are seeking assistance with personal immigration matters, check out our resources for additional referrals.

ILRC's role as a national resource center has grown over the past several years. More and more ILRC's scope of service has expanded to include a nationally important role in advocating for the fair treatment of immigrant communities and providing daily critical support for organizations and communities across the country.

For many years, ILRC has had the opportunity to work with America's older immigrant communities and immigrants with disabilities providing their advocates with legal strategies and advice on accommodating the special needs of their clients. ILRC's trainings, educational materials and other support have been the primary source for much needed legal advice for many immigrant services agencies. These services help hundreds of agencies throughout the United States be more efficient and effective in assisting immigrants to become naturalized U.S. citizens and active civic participants.

ILRC's unique position has been valuable to service agencies and the INS as they work to improve the naturalization process.

New Americans Campaign

The New Americans Campaign is a groundbreaking national network of legal-service providers, faith-based organizations, businesses, foundations and community leaders that is paving a better road to citizenship. The Campaign is modernizing and streamlining access to naturalization services, so that greater numbers of legally qualified permanent residents take the critical step to becoming American citizens. Campaign sites and affiliated collaborations have completed over 125,000 naturalization applications and conducted over 1,600 naturalization workshops and clinics across the country. By utilizing innovative technology, free or low cost services, and naturalization application fee waivers, the Campaign has saved immigrant families more than $104,000,000.

The Campaign brings together over 80 organizations across the country including the following key funders who have made an unprecedented investment in supporting aspiring citizens:  Carnegie Corporation of New York; the John S. and the James L. Knight Foundation; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Grove Foundation; Open Society Foundations and The JPB Foundation.

The list of national partners includes: Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC); Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC); Immigration Advocates Network (IAN); International Rescue Committee (IRC); National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund; National Immigration Forum; National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and Pro Bono Net.

For more information on the New Americans Campaign, visit the website at newamericanscampaign.org.

Documents

A Step by Step Guide to Completing the New Naturalization Application

On February 4, 2014 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS” or “CIS”) introduced a new N-400 (Rev. 9/13/13), Application for Naturalization form. Beginning May 5, 2014 all naturalization applicants must use the new form only.  To help attorneys, BIA accredited representatives, and others learn how to complete this new form, we have developed a step by step guide.

N-400 Translations in Spanish, Vietnamese & Chinese

On February 4, 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes to the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.  This form has doubled in length, and is now 21 pages.  The increase in length is due in part to additional questions related to determinations about good moral character and national security.

Beginning on May 5, 2014, USCIS will no longer accept the older version of the Form N-400.

To assist applicants and providers with the revised Form N-400, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) created a Spanish translation of the new (revised) N-400 form. Also, available here, is a Vietnamese translation of the revised form, courtesy of the Asian Law Alliance and a Chinese translation courtesy of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Naturalization Fee Waiver Packet

This packet is designed to help advocates prepare naturalization fee waiver applications. The packet includes information from USCIS and ILRC on how to complete and review a fee waiver application to accompany naturalization applications, the adjudication standards for fee waiver applications, and a sample completed fee waiver form.

Document Gathering for Citizenship: The Oakland Model

Written by Doug DiSalvo
East Bay Citizenship Network
May 1999

This guide explains which documents are frequently required of naturalization applicants, in what circumstances they are required, and how to get them. It contains simple explanations of each type of document, and sample forms and letters applicants can use to get them. Obtaining documents that will probably be required, and taking them to the citizenship interview makes it possible for the INS to process those documents many months more quickly than if the documents are submitted after the interview. Created initially for organizations in Oakland, California, the guide should help any citizenship provider identify necessary documents and sources for those documents.

Naturalization Group Processing in Citizenship Classes: A Guide for Teachers

This manual is written specifically for teachers and describes a method for teachers to help students complete naturalization applications in the classroom. This model works in a way that will make the most efficient, effective use of teachers' time, reduce risk for students, and help students pass their interviews.

Off-Site Processing of Naturalization Examinations

by ILRC Staff Attorneys, 1996

This manual focuses on how agencies can participate in the INS "Off-Site" processing program where INS conducts naturalization interviews at community agencies. The experience of organizations in off-site efforts show that this approach increases convenience and reduces anxiety for naturalization applicants enabling them to achieve greater success. The manual offers community agencies and schools that provide citizenship classes a step-by-step guide for setting up off-site processing in the community. It includes ideas and advice about how to work with local INS offices, how to coordinate among numerous agencies and adult schools, and how to locate and set up appropriate sites.

Profile of Organizing Efforts of Proyecto Campesino

This report is an introductory narrative of how Proyecto Campesino and O.L.A. Raza conduct community organizing, rural leadership development, and civic participation campaigns using radio programs, naturalization assistance, citizenship classes, and civic action leagues comprised of immigrant membership. Farmworker organizations can duplicate and adapt some of the information and organizing techniques in their own communities that these two dynamic organizations have been using for years.

Establishing Liaison Meetings

In several districts, the CIS (formerly INS) and community agencies hold regular liaison meetings on naturalization issues. These meetings have been very successful in increasing cooperation between the Immigration Service and community agencies as well as acting as a forum for agencies to share their concerns about naturalization processing with the Service. The packet describes how to set up regular liaison meetings as well as the benefits of these meetings.