On March 2, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is accepting applications for the Fiscal Year 2016 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program. A total of $10 million will be awarded to up to 46 organizations that provide assistance in helping immigrants naturalize. Funds for the program will come from application fees for immigration benefits; Congress appropriated no money for the program this year. The last time Congress appropriated funding was in Fiscal Year 2014. This year, there will be two funding streams.
Up to 36 organizations will be awarded grants for providing citizenship instruction and application assistance. These organizations must provide at least 40 hours of instruction in U.S. history and government, as well as English as a Second Language in reading, writing and speaking, over an 8 to 15-week class cycle. These organizations must also provide naturalization application assistance, using an employee who is a BIA-accredited representative or an attorney.
Of the $10 million, USCIS will set aside up to $1 million to award grants to 10 organizations seeking to establish new citizenship instruction programs, or to expand the quality and reach of their existing programs. For these organizations, USCIS will provide training and follow up with observation and technical assistance. By these grants, USCIS says it is seeking “to encourage the expansion of the existing field of citizenship instruction programs, particularly those offered by small, community-based organizations that have not previously received a grant from USCIS.”
This is the eighth year that USCIS is providing grants to public and nonprofit organizations for citizenship instruction, application assistance and capacity building. $53 million has been awarded in 262 grants since the program began. Last year, awardees included nine partner organizations of the New Americans Campaign, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, Central American Resource Center, the International Institute of the Bay Area, the International Rescue Committee in San Diego, Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Make the Road New York, Catholic Legal Services, Archdiocese of Miami, and the Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago, which is a member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
The deadline for applying is April 22, 2016. Grant awardees will be announced in September. Generally, USCIS makes the announcement on Citizenship Day, Sept. 17.
Links to obtain all of the application information can be found on the USCIS website. Stay tuned for an announcement from USCIS about a March 16 national stakeholder engagement to answer questions about the citizenship grants.