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02 April 2010

Helping Those on the Path to Citizenship

Earlier this week we held a special naturalization ceremony at USCIS headquarters in Washington, DC to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the 1980 Refugee Act. Witnessing the 27 candidates from 10 different countries take the oath of allegiance was truly heartwarming. I can only imagine the sacrifices and challenges these individuals faced in reaching this important moment.

Here at USCIS, we strongly believe that all immigrants who are eligible for citizenship and aspire to join our nation should receive the tools and support they need to be successful. To help individuals better understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the naturalization process, we have made citizenship outreach and awareness an agency priority.

First, our field offices are opening their doors in communities across the country and partnering with local groups to host free information sessions. Since July 2009, we have held more than 130 events for nearly 9,000 individuals. See this short video (also in Spanish) and be sure to check our website for upcoming events in your area.

Our agency also offers a variety of study materials for the naturalization test including an online practice test and other multimedia tools. And just today, we introduced a new video that walks viewers through the naturalization process and highlights simulated interviews between USCIS officers and citizenship applicants.

Naturalization processing times have also improved dramatically over the last 18 months. With less time to prepare than in the past, we want to make sure that potential applicants have up-to-date and accurate information as they consider U.S. citizenship. The fact is though, most individuals do very well on the test. Did you know that currently 92 percent of applicants pass the test on their first try? See the numbers here for yourself.

Please know that we take our responsibilities very seriously and commit our every effort to making the naturalization process as transparent, consistent, and meaningful as possible. We're excited about these new initiatives and hope you find them to be useful tools. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your comments.

Rebecca S. Carson
Chief, Office of Citizenship

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41 Comments:

At April 2, 2010 at 7:31:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Hart said...

Dear Ms. Carson,

Would you mind sharing your insight on the following question?

If a person has been residing in the U.S. legally for 10 years before receiving his/her green card, what is the purpose for the requirement that s/he has to wait 5 more years to be eligible for citizenship?

The law is clear: a permanent resident must wait 5 years (or 3 years based on marriage to a U.S. citizen) - and it makes sense too because one has to demonstrate his intention to permanently live in the US and show good moral characters, etc.

However, is there a better way to demonstrate all that by spending 10 years pursuing a green card?

In another word, didn't the agency already have every possible opportunity to evaluate a person during that time period? In fact USCIS has effectively been doing just that, with background checks, RFE's, interviews, and so on.

You already granted authorization to such an applicant to permanently live and work in the United States, and you already had many years to measure him/her against every requirement for citizenship, and you do encourage people to apply for citizenship if they are otherwise eligible, so why make them wait?

The situation is different for new immigrants who have never stayed in the U.S., such as DV lottery winners. But for a large population of permanent residents, the same requirement seems unreasonable.

If you are worried about someone moving outside the US immediately after becoming a citizen, what stops him from doing the same even if he had to wait 5 more years?

I fully understand that USCIS cannot change the law, but as the only authority in charge of naturalization, you have tremendous amount of influence power and also can do much more administratively.

I appreciate your time reading my comment and welcome different views.

- Hart

 
At April 2, 2010 at 10:21:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear USCIS,

If that is your priority over EB applicants then good luck to you. I am packing my bags and off I go.

 
At April 4, 2010 at 9:00:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Hal Leonard said...

I suggest you make all of your videos available as a YouTube channel.

 
At April 5, 2010 at 9:57:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This question is for the USCIS. Is there an issue/backlog going on right now with receipt notices being send out to applicants. A lot people who i send send of there packages over 2 months now and still they havnt received any notices

 
At April 5, 2010 at 5:57:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

These Questions is For USCIS:

We all know when an average citizen breaks the law: he/she pays for that mistake whether by fines or jail time. But what happens when USCIS break the law?? who holds them accountable??
We all know that by law, USCIS has to make a decision within 120 days after the interview, and it often passes that deadline.

My N-400 application has been pending for over 3 months now, I passed all the tests and everything but why is the hold up?

Can an immigration judge take over the case when USCIS break the 120 day deadline ??

 
At April 7, 2010 at 5:05:00 AM EDT , Anonymous free credit repair said...

Thank you for this very informative article of yours. You have explained everything well. I appreciate that you shared this to us.

 
At April 7, 2010 at 9:22:00 AM EDT , Blogger USCIS Blog Team said...

@ Hal Leonard,

You actually can see many of our videos on YouTube right here.

 
At April 7, 2010 at 9:43:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Robert Rogers said...

Thanks for the information and videos. The content is very useful. Hopeful these forums will allow us to improve the communication process as immigration reform is debated and implemented in the coming months.

 
At April 7, 2010 at 9:48:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad some people can get through this process. I had my Green card for almost 10 years, interviewed to become a citizen(N-400) 6 months ago, passed the interview, and haven't heard anything despite having called the help line. More like "not helpful line". USCIS is breaking the law when they do this to people. I did get letter saying that if I haven't heard back from them in another 45 days to call again. Wow, thanks for the help there. So I'm going on 200 days of not hearing anything. Good job!!!!

 
At April 7, 2010 at 12:04:00 PM EDT , Blogger USCIS Blog Team said...

@ Hal Leonard,

You can check out our videos on YouTube right here.

 
At April 9, 2010 at 11:04:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who got caught as a teenager at the border with a joint in her purse. She paid border patrol $500 and they said they would not arrest her. Now 25 years later she applies for citizenship. She is a permanent resident due to her parents being citizens from China. Her dad paid the required fee for her citizenship, she passed all tests, but they refused her because she had that incident as a teenager, and even though there wasn't an arrest, they say she can never get citizenship. They wanted her dad to pay another huge fee to try to get her accepted. This happened in Houston where she has lived all her life. The employees at the immigration office treat folks like dirt there. My daughter accompanied her friend there and she was appalled to see how they treat immigrants. One security officer tried to get smart with her and she informed him right quick she was a citizen and she would not put up with him treating her like that. Her 2 small children were stepping up and down a small step, and he screamed at them to get off! Like they were breaking a law or something. This was a 4 and 5 year old, not going crazy causing a big scene or anything, just simply walking up and down 2 steps, out of boredom. The wait there was unbelieveable. My daughter got back in his face and told him he better watch his mouth. There is no reason any human should be treated rudely. My daughter said she felt so sorry for folks there. Can you blame anyone for wanting to try to better their lives? After witnessing the actions of these employees, she said she was so thankful she did not have to deal with something like this. We citizens do take a lot for granted. On behalf of all hopeful applicants, I wish you the best of luck, and assure you, all Americans are not representative of those you have to deal with in these official offices. Our government employees sometimes get to feeling too big for their britches and overstep their boundaries, by treating others rude and hateful. I hope the supervisors in charge will take note, this is such a sorry way to present our nation as a land of opportunity, when our government workers are so full of themselves. Shame on them. I would like to see this friend overcome her past mistake as a silly teenager who went to visit Mexico with a group of kids, and now can't get citizenship. She is a good, honest, productive, person, works, and is totally American in every way, except legally. She will always have a green card with permanent status. But will be denied social security when older, or any other benefits due citizens. This doesn't seem right. Thanks for letting me vent.

 
At April 20, 2010 at 2:04:00 PM EDT , Anonymous JoeF said...

"Can an immigration judge take over the case when USCIS break the 120 day deadline ??"

If CIS takes longer than the 120 days to reach a decision, you can file a writ of mandamus to force them to act.
Lots of people have done that, and it is always amazing to see how quickly CIS can act once they receive the court papers...

 
At April 21, 2010 at 9:59:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Carson, I was recently informed by mail that my N-400 application would required "addition processing" even though I passed the interview and was told I would be sworn in in short order by the interviewing officer. It is now months later and I am still waiting. What addition processing is your department doing? The website status still shows that I am waiting for the interview! Can you clear up how this could happen and give me some hope that it will be fixed at some point? I'd like to get on with my life and never have to deal with you people again. Thanks.

 
At April 25, 2010 at 1:27:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello.i have about 11 trafic ticket,none of them has relate to dui or drug.or arrest.and all are under 500 fine,and been paid,would this effect my citizenship interview .will i get denie,because those ticket.please let me know soon ,because i am worry about it everyday.haveing a lot of pressure.please let me know soon. please. thank you

 
At May 2, 2010 at 12:22:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Jim said...

I don't really know what the determining criteria should be for allowing US citizenship. My observation is that there are many people from other countries who are more appreciative of the opportunities they have here than many of us who were born here. We need to really embrace the diversity that makes this country great instead of giving it lip service when it's convenient.

 
At May 5, 2010 at 10:25:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

how does uscis expect to create good citizens with no good job? p.s. please do keep bad people out.

 
At May 5, 2010 at 2:59:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting in your article that you state ; "Here at USCIS, we strongly believe that all immigrants who are eligible for citizenship and aspire to join our nation should receive the tools and support they need to be successful".

My husband, Old Guard stationed at Fort Myer Army Base has applied for his citizenship thru N-400, went on an interview, and after 45 minutes with an officer was denied citizenship because unknown to him he was already a citizen because his father was a citizen when my husband who was under the age of 18 at the time recieved his Permanent Resident Card. Almost a month later my husband is still having a hard time recieving his citizenship documents because he cannot get in contach with his father to provide what is needed.

My husband is worried about being deployed and not having his citizenship approved. USCIS officers have not tried to aid him in anway. They give him the run-around.

Although USCIS claim they "strongly believe" that immigrants in pursuit of Citizenship should have whatever they need to make that goal successful, they have done nothing to help him. I find it unethical that my husband who has taken an oath to aid in the protection and freedom of fellow americans as a US Soildier is given this type of help. Which is none at all.

 
At May 5, 2010 at 5:53:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Yason said...

Dear USCIS,

If that is your priority over EB applicants then good luck to you. I am packing my bags and off I go.

 
At May 27, 2010 at 9:54:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Carson,

I have been wanting to get my citizenship, but i am kind of scared. I am 28 years old, when i was 18 i had several traffic tickets and was arrested several times (about 5) since I had not paid. About 7 years ago everything was paid and I have not had any arrests or tickets since then. Would I get denied, if I were to apply for my citizenship?

 
At June 4, 2010 at 1:25:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same with me - I have passed my N-400 interview on January 12th 2010 and still waiting on a date for my Oath Ceremony!!!!
This is unacceptable! I have been to the Washington Filed office for the past 5 months, 5 times and everytime they say that there is no information on when I am goint to get a date!!!!

 
At July 2, 2010 at 2:24:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applied for citizenship and had my interview in Oct 2009. I passed th etest but the officer asked me to submit some additional documents which I did within two weeks of my interview. Its been 8 months since then and I have not heard anything from USCIS. I called them in Feb and i received standard letter saying they are doing additional review on my case. My attorney told me they are suppose to adjudicate within 90 days and if they don't we can file a case against USCIS.

I do not want to take that route because that means more money I have to spend for court and attorney. What can I do to have USCIS make a decision on my case. I have been in this country for over 12 yrs, never broke law, worked hard and paid more taxes than an average american. I think USCIS should consider these things and work on resolving issues faster than what they do now.

Online Case Status does not help bec it still shows that I am scheduled for an interview which I did 10 months ago.

 
At July 26, 2010 at 5:43:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a contact email for Rebecca S. carson

 
At August 26, 2010 at 10:56:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My N400 priority date was feb 2009 its been 18 months i am waiting for interview, in 2009 i was sheduled for interview TWICE and was cancelled due to unforseen reasons. its houston D.O, got an info pass and as expected given a form saying its under process by a relaxed employee of uscis. thank you america for working hard for your economy..

 
At September 30, 2010 at 6:30:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I pass my citizenchip test and they notified to appear for a Naturalization Oath ceremony on October,2010. But I want to know if my 14 year old daugther is going to become a citizen too at the same time? or is another process for her? I was never married before, I was just a single mom,before marry my husband in 2006, he is born in USA.

 
At February 10, 2011 at 12:17:00 PM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What to do if its been like almost 2 years since i filed my n-400 and i did my interview everything and no decision has been made about case yet. I was suppoe to bring a tax paper back and they schedule my appointment on a sunday so i made one and i took the paper to my local office and they told me that they have to file a paper to see whats going on with my case its been 6 months since and nothing in the mail they can't tell me anything by phone. What to do at this point? I've been filing E request i cant afford an attorney what do i do ? HELP!

 
At February 10, 2011 at 10:59:00 PM EST , Anonymous Carmen said...

I knew several "inter-married" couples: the husband was a US citizen, the wife wasn't. Wives usually have to wait forever to get the green card. Sometimes they have to return to their country of origin to wait until their visa is renewed before they are allowed to re-entry the US. Unless an attorney is involved, this process can take a very long time. Now my question is: why is it necessary to hire an attorney to speed-up the immigration procedure? Couldn't it be done fast, efficient, and free of charge, if only USCIS officials did a good job abiding by their own rules? When people are newly married, such a delay in re-uniting husband and wife can put a heavy strain on the marriage.

 
At March 29, 2011 at 3:07:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Divorce Arizona said...

It's amazing to me that from a country of immigrants comes prejudice still, to others that are currently immigrating. If one of the criteria for becoming a US citizen is the intent to file and pay taxes, then I say go ahead and express prepare legal documents. Our new tax paying, law abiding citizen can now participate in the freedom to pursue happiness. Unfortunately, there are too many Americans still biased against someone with a non-english accent, but that is a sociological issue, and not a paperwork issue.

 
At April 15, 2011 at 5:05:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Charles said...

It is not so easy to become an America citizen, therefor only those who deserve it should get it. People who respect laws and can take part in the society without abusing of the system. The process of becoming american is hard because of abusers...

 
At April 22, 2011 at 5:38:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Credit Repair said...

The USCIS is a very business organization. Like any business, there are good and bad employees. It's sad that when bad employees at USCIS are having a bad day that they take it out on immigrants. Solution: more video cameras and employee evaluations.

 
At April 24, 2011 at 5:59:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Moris said...

My mother has been living in the U.S. legally for 10 years and she was of great suport and help for many US citizens, especially in times of and after natural disaster outbreaks. However, she still can't get a green card. That is so frustrating!

 
At May 15, 2011 at 11:00:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Joseph said...

The government can't be blamed if they reduce the number of people who will be granted a citizenship. The number of illegal aliens just keep on growing.

 
At May 18, 2011 at 6:40:00 PM EDT , Anonymous DUI Attorney said...

Long story short... People want to be here for a reason. Legal immigration is limited to the job types we need nationally and recognize that we need. Nobody bothers to tell the gov we need more construction workers in Texas just engineers from India.

The current illegals up from Mexico risk their lives to get here. They pay payroll taxes (at least when they work for honest employers) and they work hard to contribute to the communities they live in. Crack down on the employers who pay people under the table in cash. Then get the DB employers are supposed to check up to a high level of accuracy -> 95%.

Stopping the illegals from crossing the border is a fool's errand. Eliminate the jobs those illegals cross for and the crossings will stop.

 
At June 1, 2011 at 1:45:00 PM EDT , Anonymous abogado said...

Thank you. I think they're doing a great job to make the naturalization process is clear and transparent. It notes the efforts made​​, for example written in this website are not required but they do. Since the effort is, I argue that the spirit of this page should explain, when changing the criteria for naturalization is why. We are aware that officials in charge are incapable of political decision, but if they can explain the criteria that are fair insurance, so I think it's always best to explain that when things are not done on a whim. I also believe that should be assigned to embassies abroad to educate the people just like you do in USA.

 
At January 4, 2012 at 10:21:00 PM EST , Blogger omar1972 said...

I haven't seen my family and country in 5 years...waiting for the green card...my life is on standby :(

 
At April 28, 2012 at 3:12:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am reading all these comments here, so I decided to share experience about my process to be U.S. citizen. My husband works for Federal government and we are scheduled to go overseas this month. Before we submitted my papers for naturalization request, we called to the USCIS customer service and told them about my situation, as I am not 3 years permanent Green Card holder in the U.S., nevertheless, they told us I am qualified to request for naturalization under 319(b) act and to request for expedetious process. We sent all required documents needed, including the check; 7 days later, I recieved a letter for my biometric appointment, and a week after, I recieved an interview notice to appear at the USCIS Atlanta Georgia field office. Everything seems to be going well, until after my interview, which by the way I passed, the agent told me and my husband that I am not qualified to file under that process of 319 (b) ACT. My world started crumbling down. Where did I go wrong? We followed all instructions given by USCIS customer service; my application should have been vetted and adjucated before I was called for an interview. All she said was she was sorry for the misleading information. I am still waiting to hear from USCIS if my case has been approved or denied before I know what the next step will be. By the way if my case is denied, I will also lose my processing fee of $680.00 I hope other people do not get misleading information as I did. There should a learning tool for the USCIS processing office in this kind of case.

 
At May 1, 2012 at 10:57:00 AM EDT , Blogger Fayez Ezzir said...

Hi
My application for neutralization took so long, I applied in may 2005, I passed the test in Jan. 2012 ,no decision made yet, why its taking that long ?

 
At June 1, 2012 at 10:34:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a great experience I appy for N 400 on Oct. 2011 recvd finger print notice on Nov. 2011 recvd interview letter on Dec. 2011 interview Jan. 2012 oath ceremony Feb 2012 and I also apply for N 600 for my daughter on Feb 2012 I'm stilling waiting on a response which I know the process is 5-6 months

 
At February 9, 2013 at 12:41:00 AM EST , Blogger Michael R Callahan said...

both sides of pro and against gaining status of legal right to live in the US can sometimes make sense. However, if we were in most immigrants shoes trying to live here, we would want the exact same as they do. So it's hard for me not to be in favor of allowing them an easier process of gaining citizenship.
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At April 21, 2013 at 2:21:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden said...

What to do if its been like almost 2 years since i filed my n-400 and i did my interview everything and no decision has been made about case yet. I was suppoe to bring a tax paper back and they schedule my appointment on a sunday so i made one and i took the paper to my local office and they told me that they have to file a paper to see whats going on with my case its been 6 months since and nothing in the mail they can't tell me anything by phone. What to do at this point? I've been filing E request i cant afford an attorney what do i do ?

 
At April 24, 2013 at 11:09:00 AM EDT , Blogger Lyn Langomes said...

my husband filed a petition for me, and the decision was disapproved, what happened now to our papers?

 
At July 28, 2013 at 12:38:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

@USCIS Blog Team
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