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20 December 2011

New Test Pass Rate Data Available: Citizenship Preparation Resources Support Applicant Success

Just over two years ago, USCIS implemented a new test for naturalization applicants. As a final step in the test redesign process, we looked into how applicants performed on this new test.

A recently completed study (conducted by ICF International) found an overall pass rate of 95.8 percent for the new test during fiscal year 2010, the first full year during which the test was administered.

In recent years, USCIS has made tremendous strides in offering citizenship preparation resources, and this study shows how our efforts are paying off. These free materials help immigrants study for the naturalization test and learn about the rights, responsibilities and importance of U.S. citizenship. Preparing for the naturalization interview is important, and immigrants are taking the time to study and practice for tests that gauge their knowledge of U.S. history and government as well as their ability to read, write and speak English. 

USCIS’s free preparation tools include the online Citizenship Resource Center, a directory of local citizenship classes, and free naturalization information sessions hosted by our local offices across the country. By partnering with community groups and immigrant-serving organizations, we have reached through these sessions more than 44,000 people - applicants and potential applicants alike - during the past two years.

In addition to these resources and learning opportunities, USCIS has awarded nearly $18 million in competitive grant funding since 2009 to local citizenship preparation programs across the country, providing assistance to more than 19,000 permanent residents. We’ve also provided technical assistance and training for volunteers and educators who teach citizenship.

In the last two years, USCIS has welcomed nearly 1.4 million new citizens, many of whom have benefited from free educational tools that helped them prepare for the naturalization test.

The availability of these resources and the commitment of immigrants to prepare for the test are the keys to success. While it’s natural to be nervous about this important milestone, applicants who prepare for the naturalization process will be better equipped to succeed.


19 December 2011

This Holiday Season: An Advance Parole Reminder

With the holiday season here once again, we remind our readers that individuals who fall into certain categories must obtain Advance Parole from USCIS before traveling abroad. This is the case if you have:
  • been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
  • a pending application for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident;
  • a pending application for relief under section 203 of the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA 203);
  • a pending asylum application; or
  • a pending application for legalization.
To obtain Advance Parole, individuals must file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. For more information, check out our press release on advance parole from last year.

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13 December 2011

The White House Blogs on USCIS's Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Initiative

Today the White House Blog for the Office of Science and Technology Policy posted an article on USCIS's Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) Initiative, which aims to help immigrant entrepreneurs start and grow businesses in the United States. Check it out here.

12 December 2011

Why Do You Use Self Check?

Self Check is a fast, free and voluntary service that allows you to check your employment eligibility in the United States. Users can check the accuracy of their employment eligibility records and get information on how to fix any errors they might find. A Service of E-Verify, Self Check was launched in a limited number of states in March 2011. Since then, more than 50,000 people have used it.

In the coming months, we’re preparing to make Self Check available nationwide. To help us ensure that our service is as good as it can be, we invite those of you who have already used Self Check to share your experiences, observations and recommendations. To do so, please email us at with the subject line, “Why I Used Self Check.” You can also post feedback here in the comments section.

We’re particularly interested in finding out why you used Self-Check, and whether your experience was positive or negative. What worked well for you and what didn't? We’ll read your comments and, in a future post, highlight a few of your stories.

For those of you not already using Self Check, think about the benefits of using it. Employers are using E-Verify more and more to confirm the employment eligibility of their new hires. Wouldn’t you like to know whether you would be work authorized by E-Verify and if there are any errors in your record before your new boss does? Self Check allows you to do that! For more information, please visit the Self Check website at


02 December 2011

USCIS Develops Transformation System: Testing in Progress

Posted by Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

UPDATE: Listen to a radio interview with Director Mayorkas on Transformation.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is in the post-development testing phase of a new system that will transform our paper-based agency into an electronic, online organization.  This is an unprecedented step for the world’s largest and most complex immigration system.  To view what we have developed – the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) – we encourage you to watch our informational video. 

USCIS’s transformation to ELIS will be accomplished in periodic releases, with each release covering different immigration benefits or adding enhanced functionality.  The first release, covering one benefit type (the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status), provides the foundational architecture for the remaining releases.  The post-development testing phase now underway is time consuming and challenging, as is characteristic of projects of this scale, complexity, and ambition.  While we sought to roll-out the first release this month, our testing is not complete.  We will inform you of our recalibrated timeframe for our first release after more testing is completed in the next few weeks.  We are committed to comprehensive testing in order to deliver a quality release for the benefit of our employees and our customers.

We are grateful to the OIG and GAO for their recent reports and recommendations that support our transformation process and sharpen our ability to deploy sequenced releases in a cost-efficient and timely manner.  We have concurred with and begun implementation of their recommended actions.

Past efforts to transform our agency have not reached the point where we are today: the testing phase of a system that has been developed.  Our progress is attributable to hard work and tremendous dedication, and to a vision that all of us share of a modernized agency in the service of its noble mission.

For more, you can visit our new Transformation Web pages which give more detailed information on USCIS ELIS and the Transformation endeavor.

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