Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program

On July 25, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for two competitive funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program. Both funding opportunities aim to prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics. Through these two funding opportunities, USCIS will offer up to $10 million in competitive funding for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country. 

How to Apply

I. Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services

The first opportunity is for public or nonprofit organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for citizenship by offering both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services.

Funding Opportunity: CI-CET-18-002
Application Deadline: August 8, 2018 (No extensions)
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to 36
Anticipated Funding Amount: Up to $9 million
Performance Period: Two years (comprised of two budget periods, each lasting one year)
Anticipated Award Date: Sept. 21, 2018
Maximum Grant Award:  Maximum grant award is $250,000 ($125,000 for the first year budget period and $125,000 for the second year budget period)

Program Requirements

To be eligible for funding, you must provide the following types of services under the program:

1. Citizenship instruction to prepare lawful permanent residents for the naturalization test and interview. Your program must include:

  • Instruction in U.S. history and government for test preparation and the promotion of civic assimilation in English. Applications to provide instruction in languages other than English will be deemed ineligible;
  • Activities that promote civic and linguistic assimilation;
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in reading, writing, and speaking;
  • Instruction on the naturalization process and eligibility interview;
  • The use of a nationally normed standardized test of English proficiency to place and assess progress of all students enrolled under this program. At least 80 percent of post tested students must demonstrate educational gains as evidenced by increased standardized test scores;
  • The use of the Assessment of Adult Citizenship Education provided by USCIS to measure the acquisition of information leading to test preparedness and immigrant assimilation to be administered to all enrolled students;
  • The use of a current adult citizenship textbook that aligns with the skill level of the students in the class (published textbooks only, compilations of worksheets or handouts will not be accepted); all students must be issued a textbook for their own personal use;
  • A sample curriculum that includes all of the components contained in the USCIS Sample Curriculum found on the Citizenship Resource Center at https://www.uscis.gov/citizenship/educators/program-development, including:
    • Instruction in U.S. history and government for test preparation and the promotion of civic assimilation;
    • Activities that promote civic and linguistic assimilation;
    • ESL instruction in reading, writing, and speaking for the naturalization test, naturalization process, and to conduct required assimilation activities; and
    • Instruction on the naturalization process and eligibility interview (N-400).
  • Provision of at least 40 hours of citizenship instruction over an 8-15 week class cycle with managed enrollment to at least 200 students at the National Reporting System for Adult Education (NRS) low beginning to high intermediate levels; and
  • The use of citizenship teachers who have at least one year of experience teaching ESL to adults and who:
    1. Hold a degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL); and/or
    2. Hold TESOL certification from a state licensing agency; and/or
    3. Have a minimum of 2 years’ experience in TESOL instruction in a classroom setting for a program that utilizes a textbook and a structured curriculum.

For more detailed information on the content and competencies that you must address in your grant-funded classes, please review the Guide to the Adult Citizenship Education Content Standards and Foundation Skills (PDF, 182 KB).

2. Naturalization application services, within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law, to support lawful permanent residents in the naturalization application and interview process.

Your organization must:

  • Provide naturalization eligibility screenings;
  • Prepare and submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, with Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, over the two-year period of performance for at least 200 lawful permanent residents;
  • Provide ongoing case management;
  • Employ a Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP)- accredited representative or a licensed attorney. (Pro bono or volunteer attorneys may be used to supplement the program but may not substitute.) Attorneys and accredited representatives must sign Form N-400 as the preparer, submit Form G-28 with each Form N-400 filed under this grant, and mail the naturalization application package to USCIS on behalf of the client. Your organization must have a process in place to refer individuals with cases too complex for handling to other naturalization application service providers.

Grant funding may also be used to:

  • Prepare students for the naturalization interview;
  • Have an accredited representative or licensed attorney appear with clients at the naturalization interview;
  • File other forms or documents (such as Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions), if applicable; or
  • Prepare and file subsequent Forms N-600 for a naturalization client’s minor children.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible entities include but are not limited to:

  • City or township governments;
  • County governments;
  • Independent school districts;
  • Native American tribal governments;
  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than institutions of higher education;
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education;
  • Special district governments; and
  • State governments

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for this program, applicants and sub-awardees must meet the below requirements:

  • Applicants and any sub-awardees must be organizations with public or non-profit status;
  • At the time of application, applicants and/or any sub-awardees that propose to provide citizenship instruction must have at least one year of experience in the past three years providing direct service citizenship instruction in a classroom setting that follows a curriculum and utilizes a citizenship textbook. Applicants and/or any sub-awardees that propose to provide naturalization application services must have at least one year of experience in the past three years providing naturalization application services within the authorized practice of immigration law to clients, and must at the time of application:
    • Be recognized by the DOJ’s OLAP and employ at least one DOJ-accredited representative employee (partial accreditation is acceptable) with experience providing clients with naturalization representation; OR
    • Have at least one attorney on staff as a paid employee with experience in providing clients with naturalization representation.

Not Eligible

For-profit law firms and attorneys in private practice are not eligible to receive funding under this funding opportunity.

Current awardees and sub-awardees under the FY 2017 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant (funding opportunity DHS-17-CIS-010-001 or DHS-17-CIS-010-002) are not eligible to receive funding under this funding opportunity. Applicants to CI-CET-18-003 are not eligible to apply to this program.

If DHS determines at any point during the review process that an application does not meet these eligibility requirements, the application will be removed from further consideration.

USCIS will take into account various program and organizational factors, including past grantee performance and whether an applicant and any sub-awardees are enrolled in E-verify, when making final award decisions.

II. Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program

The goal of the Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program (RAAP) is to provide extended assimilation services which build on those received during the initial refugee resettlement period, with the primary focus on helping lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who entered the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) or were granted asylum obtain the skills and knowledge required to successfully pass the naturalization test, as well as foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. While other federally funded services for refugees primarily focus on the attainment of economic self-sufficiency, this grant strives to promote long term assimilation through the provision of information, knowledge, and skills to enrolled participants. Through this grant, USCIS anticipates providing $250,000 in funding over a 2 year period of performance to approximately 4 community-based organizations with experience in serving refugees and asylees.

Funding Opportunity: CI-CET-18-003
Application Deadline: August 15, 2018 (No extensions)
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to 4
Anticipated Funding Amount: Up to $1 million
Performance Period: Two years (comprised of two budget periods, each lasting one year)
Anticipated Award Date: Sept. 21, 2018
Maximum Grant Award: Maximum grant award is $250,000 ($125,000 for the first year budget period and $125,000 for the second year budget period)

Program Requirements

To be eligible for funding, you must provide the following types of services under the program:

1. The development of an assimilation plan for each LPR who will receive services. The intent of this requirement is to develop an assimilation road map for LPRs who have identified naturalization as a goal, including those who are not yet ready to apply for naturalization and may require interim services to attain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship. Each LPR should be assessed for English language level and naturalization eligibility and provided with information on the naturalization process and guidance on what steps are needed to prepare for naturalization. This naturalization-focused assessment should be considered the foundation of the individual assimilation plan, with services and referrals tailored to the specific skills, needs, and literacy level of the individual. Each LPR must be offered enrollment in civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, or citizenship instruction classes as appropriate. The applicant must propose to serve a minimum of 200 LPRs who entered the United States as refugees or were granted asylum. 

2. Provision of or referral to assimilation services that address the specific needs identified in the LPR’s individual assimilation plan. Grantees must offer access to a range of services designed to foster long term assimilation and tailored to the specific needs of the target population. These services may include:

  • Community orientation and settlement information;
  • Referrals to and interactions with local government and public institutions;
  • Referrals to employment training; and
  • Referrals to appropriate sources of information for updating or renewing previously held foreign professional credentials when applicable.

Grant recipients may propose other services based on the identified needs of the community they propose to serve.

3. Civics-based literacy instruction, civics-based ESL instruction, and citizenship instruction to provide enrolled clients with the skills and knowledge needed to prepare for citizenship. Students whose English level is not at the appropriate level for citizenship instruction classes should be served through civics-based literacy and/or civics-based ESL instruction. The applicant may directly provide this instruction or use a partner to provide these classes. The applicant must propose to enroll and pre- and post-test a minimum of 150 LPRs enrolled in the civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, or citizenship classes.

4. Provision of naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law at no cost to the enrolled client. Naturalization application services cannot be provided to individuals who have not received other services under this grant. Services can be delivered by either the primary applicant or a partner sub-awardee organization.

Eligible Applicants

Eligible entities include but are not limited to:

  • City or township governments;
  • County governments;
  • Independent school districts;
  • Native American tribal governments;
  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than institutions of higher education;
  • Public and state controlled institutions of higher education;
  • Special district governments; and
  • State governments

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for this program, applicants and sub-awardees must meet the below requirements:

  • Applicants and any proposed sub-awardees must be organizations with public or non-profit status;
  • Applicants and any proposed sub-awardees must demonstrate extensive experience with and knowledge of the provision of ongoing assimilation services to the proposed former refugee/asylee population and describe why the applicant is uniquely suited to serve this particular population;
  • Applicants must demonstrate a robust network of local service providers with whom the applicant has an established and ongoing relationship for the provision of the proposed assimilation services that will not be provided directly by the applicant;
  • At the time of application, applicants and/or any sub-awardees that propose to provide citizenship instruction must have at least one year of experience in the past three years providing direct service citizenship instruction in a classroom setting that follows a curriculum and uses a citizenship textbook;
  • Applicants and/or any sub-awardees that propose to provide naturalization application services must have at least one year of experience in the past three years providing naturalization application services within the authorized practice of immigration law to clients, and must at the time of application:
    • Be recognized by the DOJ’s OLAP and employ at least one DOJ-accredited representative employee (partial accreditation is acceptable) with experience providing clients with naturalization representation; OR
    • Have at least one attorney on staff as a paid employee with experience providing clients with naturalization representation.

Not Eligible

For-profit law firms and attorneys in private practice are not eligible to receive funding under this funding opportunity.

Current awardees and sub-awardees under the FY2017 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program (funding opportunity DHS-17-CIS-010-001 or DHS-17-CIS-010-002) are not eligible to receive funding under this funding opportunity. Applicants to CI-CET-18-002 are not eligible to apply to this program.

If DHS determines at any point during the review process that an application does not meet these eligibility requirements, the application will be removed from further consideration.

USCIS will take into account various program and organizational factors, including past grantee performance and whether an applicant and any sub-awardees are enrolled in E-verify, when making final award decisions.

Application Information

To read detailed instructions and apply for either of these grants, visit grants.gov. You and any sub-applicants applying for federal funding must have a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Data Numbering System (DUNS) number and must register with the System for Award Management (SAM).

The grants.gov website provides step-by-step instructions for obtaining a DUNS number and registering with SAM. We strongly encourage you to obtain or update all registrations related to grants.gov before the deadlines as indicated above. We have also developed a Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services tip sheet (PDF, 56 KB) and a Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program tip sheet (PDF, 63 KB) to help you prepare your proposals.

Contact Information

For additional information and updates on the FY 2018 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at citizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

We will hold a stakeholder engagement on July 27, 2018, to address questions about this grant opportunity. For more information on this engagement, visit https://www.uscis.gov/outreach/upcoming-national-engagements. To learn more about applying for federal funding opportunities, visit grants.gov or contact the support line at 800-518-4726.

Please direct all media inquiries to the USCIS Office of Public Affairs at 202-272-1200.

Background

Since it began in FY 2009, USCIS has awarded $73 million through 353 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 200,000 permanent residents prepare for citizenship.

Through these grant opportunities, USCIS seeks to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services and to provide opportunities for lawful permanent residents to gain the knowledge and training necessary to promote their assimilation into the fabric of American society. Increased learning opportunities and additional citizenship instruction resources in communities will help lawful permanent residents improve their English language skills, increase their knowledge of U.S. history and government, and gain the tools to assimilate into our society and meet their responsibilities as United States citizens fully contributing to our nation.

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