USCIS Citizenship Education: Resources and Initiatives
Promoting Civic Integration Among Permanent Residents
The USCIS Office of Citizenship promotes instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities and provides permanent residents with information and tools they need to successfully integrate into American civic culture. Mandated by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Citizenship develops educational resources and initiatives for immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations, builds community capacity to prepare immigrants for citizenship, and promotes the importance of U.S. citizenship.
Background: Naturalization Process and Test
Since 2006, USCIS has naturalized more than 6 million new citizens. Most recently in fiscal year (FY) 2013, USCIS welcomed nearly 780,000 new Americans.
To become a naturalized citizen of the United States, an applicant must meet all eligibility requirements, including (with limited exceptions) the ability to read, write and speak words ordinarily used in the English language and demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government.
Applicants must meet these requirements by passing an English language and civics test. In keeping with USCIS’s commitment to ensure that the naturalization process and associated testing requirements are fair, meaningful and transparent for all applicants, USCIS redesigned the naturalization test to achieve two basic outcomes:
The redesigned version of the naturalization test, mandatory for all citizenship applicants since Oct. 1, 2009, emphasizes the founding principles of American democracy and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Along with this redesign, USCIS introduced new training requirements for officers. All new USCIS officers now receive training on test administration, and all officers who administer the test must successfully complete an annual refresher training on test administration and scoring guidelines.
Citizenship Preparation Resources and Public Education
The Office of Citizenship has developed a variety of educational initiatives to promote awareness of the naturalization process, the naturalization test, and the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. All test study materials promote civic learning and build a strong foundation for successful citizenship.
These initiatives include:
Building Community Capacity to Prepare Immigrants for Citizenship
Supporting immigrant-serving organizations that prepare immigrants for citizenship is critical to the mission of USCIS and the Office of Citizenship. Highlights in this area include:
As a final step in the test redesign process, USCIS conducted a series of records studies to evaluate applicant performance.
The research analyzed pass rate data for the old naturalization test (from FY 2008) and new naturalization test (from FY 2010) as well as pass rate data from a previous records study (from FY 2003 and 2004). Based on the Records Study Comparison Report, applicant performance has improved with the introduction of the new test and is generally consistent with the pass rate reflected in USCIS’s ongoing analysis of internal case management data. Cumulative internal case management data show that 91% of all applicants who have taken the new test since Oct. 1, 2009 have passed.
Promoting the Importance of Citizenship
USCIS celebrates the achievements of those who have been successful in the naturalization process, the importance of citizenship, and the outstanding contributions of immigrants by:
Highlights in this area include:
To learn more about the USCIS Office of Citizenship’s educational programs and initiatives, please visit the Citizenship Resource Center at www.uscis.gov/citizenship.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/17/2014