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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

Helping Those on the Path to Citizenship

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Earlier this week we held a special naturalization ceremony at USCIS headquarters in Washington, DC to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the 1980 Refugee Act. Witnessing the 27 candidates from 10 different countries take the oath of allegiance was truly heartwarming. I can only imagine the sacrifices and challenges these individuals faced in reaching this important moment.

Here at USCIS, we strongly believe that all immigrants who are eligible for citizenship and aspire to join our nation should receive the tools and support they need to be successful. To help individuals better understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the naturalization process, we have made citizenship outreach and awareness an agency priority.

First, our field offices are opening their doors in communities across the country and partnering with local groups to host free information sessions. Since July 2009, we have held more than 130 events for nearly 9,000 individuals. See this short video (also in Spanish) and be sure to check our website for upcoming events in your area.

Our agency also offers a variety of study materials for the naturalization test including an online practice test and other multimedia tools. And just today, we introduced a new video that walks viewers through the naturalization process and highlights simulated interviews between USCIS officers and citizenship applicants.

Naturalization processing times have also improved dramatically over the last 18 months. With less time to prepare than in the past, we want to make sure that potential applicants have up-to-date and accurate information as they consider U.S. citizenship. The fact is though, most individuals do very well on the test. Did you know that currently 92 percent of applicants pass the test on their first try? See the numbers here for yourself.

Please know that we take our responsibilities very seriously and commit our every effort to making the naturalization process as transparent, consistent, and meaningful as possible. We're excited about these new initiatives and hope you find them to be useful tools. Thanks for your time and I look forward to your comments.

Rebecca S. Carson
Chief, Office of Citizenship