On April 13, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a new citizenship application form N-400.
USCIS proposed changes to the N-400 application last year and asked for public comment throughout 2015. Last November, the Naturalization Working Group, the policy arm of the New Americans Campaign, submitted its comments on the proposed changes. 19 partner organization participated.
The Naturalization Working Group’s input included recommendations to reduce the length of the N-400, revise proposed terminology and phrasing where it is likely to confuse applicants, harmonize important features of print and online versions of the application, and respect applicants’ privacy by limiting inquiries and disclosures to information necessary to adjudicate the application.
The length of the new N-400 was shortened from 21 pages to 20 due in part to the removal of the 2D barcode technology that stretched across the bottom of each page. The Naturalization Working Group submitted comments to USCIS expressing concern over the length of the form, and the group’s advocacy helped implement this change to a shorter form. Other changes were made to language on the form, aiming to streamline the process for applicants by allowing them to skip sections that don’t pertain to them. The language changes also aim to better identify what evidence applicants need to submit with their N-400 and bring along with them to the interview.
USCIS outlined the changes to the form in their announcement in April. The new N-400 can be accessed on the USCIS website. While the last version can still be used to file naturalization applications, starting on August 10, the new form will be the only version accepted.
The Naturalization Working Group continues to convene around important immigration policy issues. The group recently discovered a systemic issue where N-400 applications without a preparer name and signature have been rejected. When they took the issue to USCIS, the agency responded by hosting a stakeholder call to address it.
The Naturalization Working Group will continue to share information about ongoing advocacy to address the issue going forward. The advocacy work of the Naturalization Working Group and its ability to convene conversations with policymakers like USCIS underscores the value of New Americans Campaign partnerships.