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25 February 2010

USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant Program

USCIS is excited to announce the FY 2010 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program, a $7 million initiative that will support the expansion of citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

United States citizenship is one of the most important ways for immigrants to become fully vested members of this country and although the decision to pursue this goal is a very personal one, the benefits of citizenship run deep. Citizenship not only creates new opportunities for hundreds of thousands of individuals each year, it also strengthens the very fabric of our nation.

For many, the naturalization process can seem overwhelming. Through this funding we seek to expand preparation programs to ensure that those who are committed to the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen receive the support they need to be successful. Expanded opportunities and additional resources in communities will allow immigrants to improve their English language skills and knowledge of U.S. history and government as they prepare for the naturalization application and interview process.

In 2009, we awarded a total of $1.2 million in grants to 13 organizations that serve immigrants across the country. These grant recipients are promoting the rights and responsibilities of citizenship through new opportunities for civics-based English and citizenship instruction and naturalization preparation assistance - impacting nearly 70,000 lawful permanent residents (LPRs) in 11 states.

Building on the success of the 2009 program, we will offer two competitive grant opportunities this year. The first will strengthen locally-based citizenship preparation programs. The second will increase the capacity of members or affiliates of national, regional, or statewide organizations to offer citizenship services in underserved communities. An estimated 50 awards are expected and recipients will be announced in September 2010. To learn more about both announcements, please visit

The application package is available at Please continue to check our grants page for updates and additional information.

It is our honor to support eligible, aspiring citizens and the many organizations that serve them. We hope this program provides the mechanism and support for new resources and expanded citizenship assistance in communities nationwide.

Rebecca S. Carson
Chief, USCIS Office of Citizenship


16 February 2010

Haiti and Immigration: Confronting the Rumors

We've heard a number of rumors circulating about the help USCIS is providing to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Three of the most common rumors are listed below and followed by the facts:

Rumor #1 - People may fly to Haiti to bring back one adult and one child.

The facts: Only those who are otherwise eligible to be admitted in a valid immigration status or have been granted humanitarian parole will be allowed to enter the United States lawfully from Haiti. Anyone traveling to Haiti to bring family to the United States should confirm that their relative falls within one of these categories before making the difficult journey.

Rumor #2 - You can pay someone $5000 (or any amount) to get a visa for your family in Haiti.

The facts: People may seek to take advantage of visa applicants by offering to obtain the visa for $5000 or some other sum of money. No one can guarantee that paying $5000 (or any amount) for their assistance will result in the granting of a visa for a family member in Haiti. To protect yourself from becoming a victim of immigration fraud, please see our "Don't Be a Victim of Immigration Fraud" webpage.

Rumor #3 - USCIS will delay adjudication of any non-Haitian applications and petitions.

The facts: USCIS had taken steps to allocate all available resources to handle the influx of Haiti TPS/earthquake relief-related applications while continuing to process its pre-existing workload. There may be some delays due to the increased workload generated by the Haiti relief efforts, but USCIS is processing applications received from all applicants and petitioners.

Rumor #4 - There is a fee charged to make an InfoPass appointment.

The facts: InfoPass appointments are free. You can schedule your InfoPass appointment online.

Rumor #5 - USCIS charges a fee to download or obtain Temporary Protected Status forms.

The facts: All USCIS forms are available at no charge on our website or by calling the USCIS Forms hotline at (800) 870-3676.
To stay informed, please continue to visit, where we post information as it becomes available. If you are unsure about anything you may have heard relating to this topic, please leave a comment in our comment section.

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05 February 2010

Haiti and Adoption

In the wake of the earthquakes that struck Haiti, USCIS has received many questions from prospective parents concerned about Haitian children they are seeking to adopt.

We want everyone to know we are giving these cases our highest priority. To ease the handling of paperwork, USCIS has created a special email inbox to receive scanned documents:

Many of you realize that international adoption can be an extremely complex process involving the laws of different jurisdictions. In the case of Haiti, these normal challenges are made far more difficult by an unprecedented environmental disaster.

USCIS employees are working in the United States and in Haiti to unite children with their new families as quickly and safely as is possible.

The Miami District Director sent us the following message detailing her recent work experience:

Just returned home from Miami International Airport. To witness so many Haitian orphans arrive in the United States with absolutely nothing other than the clothes on their backs, terrified but with eyes wide open was nothing short of life-changing. It is a privilege to be a USCIS employee and able to play a role, however small, in helping ease the suffering of these children.
You can find more information about adopting a child from Haiti in our "Questions & Answers: Information for U.S. Citizens in the process of adopting a child from Haiti". Also, those interested in the inter-country adoption process can find more information here. Please continue to check the USCIS website for updates and information.

Update: Describing how one person can make a difference, both Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (see video) and "The Wall Street Journal" recognized the work of USCIS employee Pius Bannis in facilitating adoptions of Haitian orphans.

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