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28 January 2011

Reaching Out to Those We Serve: Public Engagement in Spanish

(As published in La Opinión in Spanish)

Sometimes, the individuals in greatest need of information are the most difficult to reach. This is one of the challenges a public agency must address as it strives to serve its communities fairly and effectively.

We at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that administers our nation’s legal immigration system, have thought a great deal about how we can best reach those whose access to our services is not easy or immediate. As a result, we have developed new and innovative ways to communicate with our public, including those whose voices and concerns might not otherwise be heard. 

One example of our work is coming up in just a few days. On January 29, for the first time we will be hosting a national meeting in Spanish, on a Saturday, in one of our local district offices. The meeting will be in Fairfax, Virginia, and individuals from all over the country can participate by telephone. We will focus our discussion on how an individual can petition for a relative to immigrate to this country.

We have held these meetings in Spanish before. Called "Enlaces," the meetings enable community members to learn about our programs and allow us to learn of issues of importance to our community. We conduct the meetings in Spanish because it is spoken by a very large portion of our customer base. It is for this very reason that we have built and improved our Spanish-language website,, which received more than 700,000 visits this past month. Our Spanish-language website was ranked first for customer satisfaction among all federal departmental Spanish language websites. We have institutionalized our delivery of service to Spanish-speaking stakeholders and customers.

The upcoming Enlace is a bit different and more far-reaching. It is the first time we have held a national engagement on a Saturday, in the community. This is part of our effort to reach those whose access to us is limited, whether it be because of work schedule, transportation, or other life factors.

As the new year advances, our agency will implement new, creative ways to reach the communities we serve. Our goal is to provide equal access to this nation’s legal immigration system, so that those in need of our services are reached, our agency’s mission is fulfilled, and our nation’s proud tradition as a nation of immigrants continues strong.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security

21 January 2011

2011 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program

As we begin the New Year, the USCIS Office of Citizenship is excited to announce the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program for fiscal year 2011. This year’s program will provide approximately $8.5 million to expand citizenship preparation programs across the nation for the growing number of immigrants seeking these services.

Here at USCIS, we work to ensure that all eligible immigrants who aspire to become citizens have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful. Local immigrant-serving organizations already working with immigrants are best positioned to evaluate the needs of their communities and tailor citizenship instruction and services to achieve the greatest impact.

Through this funding, we aim to promote measurable progress in the overall availability and quality of citizenship services. Expanded opportunities and additional resources in communities will allow a greater number of immigrants to improve their English language skills, cultivate their knowledge of U.S. history and civics, and appreciate the rights and responsibilities of becoming United States citizens. These additional skills play a significant role in increasing a new citizen’s ability to integrate into and contribute to American society.

In 2010, we awarded a total of $8.1 million in grants to 78 organizations. These grant recipients are currently providing much needed citizenship instruction and naturalization preparation assistance to more than 25,000 green card holders in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

Building on the success of the 2010 program, we will offer three competitive grant opportunities in 2011. Two Direct Services Grant Programs will strengthen locally-based citizenship preparation programs and the National Capacity Building Grant Program will increase the capacity of members or affiliates of national, regional, or statewide organizations to offer citizenship services in underserved communities. An estimated 35 awards are expected and grant recipients will be announced in September 2011. To learn more about these announcements, please visit

The application package is now available at Please continue to check our grants page for updates and additional information. For citizenship-related educational materials, please visit our free online Citizenship Resource Center.

Rebecca S. Carson
Chief, USCIS Office of Citizenship


12 January 2011

Deadline Approaching for Haiti TPS

Just a reminder that Tuesday, January 18 is the deadline for eligible Haitians to register for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). For more details, see our website.

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07 January 2011

Naturalization Test: Newly Elected Officials Can Mean New Answers to Some Civics Test Questions

Following November’s elections, the answers to questions 20, 23 and 43 on the civics test may have changed for you. These questions ask who is currently serving as your U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative and state Governor, respectively. The links below will help you find those answers:
In addition, the answer to question 47, which asks for the name of the current Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, is now John Boehner. Good luck with your studies – and for more information on the naturalization test and available study materials, please visit


05 January 2011

USCIS News and Events Available on Twitter and YouTube

As part of our ongoing efforts to reach those we serve, USCIS has established accounts on both Twitter (@ uscis) and YouTube (

We invite you to follow us on Twitter to stay updated on the latest news, events, office closings and happenings around our agency.

On YouTube, we already have over 20 videos featuring news, naturalization ceremonies, informational “how to” guides and much more.

Please feel free to leave us feedback as to how we can best use these and other tools to keep you informed.