Fiscal Year 2021 Citizenship and Integration Grant Program

On May 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for two competitive funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Integration Grant Program. Through these two opportunities, USCIS will offer up to $10 million in competitive funding for programs that help prepare lawful permanent residents (LPRs) for naturalization and promote civic integration through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics. 

Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services

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

Funding Opportunity: DHS-21-CIS-010-002
Application Deadline: July 16, 2021 (no extensions) 
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to 33
Anticipated Funding Amount: Up to $8.2 million 
Performance Period: Two years (comprising two budget periods, each lasting one year)  
Anticipated Award Date: September 2021
Maximum Grant Award: Maximum grant award is $250,000 ($125,000 for the first year and $125,000 for the second year)

Program Requirements
To be eligible for funding, you must provide the following types of services under the program: 
1. Citizenship instruction to prepare LPRs 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 integration in English. We will deem your application ineligible if your program provides instruction in languages other than English;  
  • Activities that promote civic and linguistic integration;
  • English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction in reading, writing and speaking; 
  • Instruction primarily delivered in English 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% of post-tested students must demonstrate educational gains as shown by improved standardized test scores; 
  • The use of a current adult citizenship textbook that aligns with the skill level of the students in the class (published textbooks only; we will not accept compilations of worksheets or handouts); all students must be issued a textbook for their own personal use;
  • A curriculum that includes all of the components in the USCIS Sample Curriculum found on the Citizenship Resource Center at uscis.gov/citizenship, including:
    • Instruction in U.S. history and government for test preparation and the promotion of civic integration;
    • Activities that promote civic and linguistic integration; 
    • ESL instruction in reading, writing and speaking for the naturalization test, naturalization process, and to conduct required integration activities; and
    • Instruction on the naturalization process and eligibility interview (the N-400 process); 
  • The provision of at least 40 hours of citizenship instruction over a 10- to 12-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 (NRS Levels 2-5); and
  • The use of citizenship teachers who have degrees in education (K-12 Social Studies, History, TESOL, or Adult Education) or who have at least one year of experience teaching adult immigrants. Although not a requirement, programs whose teachers have the following education, certification, or experience are more likely to be scored higher than programs that do not:
    • Hold a degree in TESOL; and/or
    • Hold TESOL certification from a state licensing agency; and/or
    • Have a minimum of two years of experience in TESOL instruction in a classroom setting for an adult education program that uses a textbook and a structured curriculum. 


2. Naturalization application services, within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law, to support LPRs 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 LPRs; 
  • Provide ongoing case management; 
  • Use a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Legal Access Programs (OLAP) Accredited Representative (partial accreditation is acceptable) or an attorney who is an employee of the applicant organization or the sub-awardee organization. (Pro bono or volunteer attorneys may be used to supplement the program but may not serve as the applicant’s sole provider of immigration legal services, nor serve as a supervisor to staff members who are not accredited representatives and provide such services.) Attorneys and accredited representatives must sign Form N-400 as the preparer and submit Form G- 28 with each Form N-400 filed under this grant, preferably using online filing. (Note: At grant-supported group processing events, a Form G-28 may not be required if the pro bono attorney filling out the Form N-400 determines that the services provided would not be considered “practice” or “preparation”, as those terms are defined in 8 C.F.R.CFR 1.2.  Such pro bono attorneys, however, must complete the preparer section of the N-400.) We strongly encourage grantees to file forms electronically whenever possible. In the case that e-filing is not a viable option, the grantee’s legal service provider is required to mail the naturalization application package to USCIS on behalf of the client. Applications may not be given to the client to mail. The legal service provider is required to file the application on the client’s behalf. The applicant must demonstrate an established process in place to refer individuals with complex immigration matters beyond the scope of the services provided under this grant to a qualified attorney.

You may also use grant funding 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:  

  • 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, you must meet the below requirements when you submit your application:

  • You must be an organization with public or nonprofit status; and
  • If you propose to provide citizenship instruction, you 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. If you propose to provide naturalization application services, you 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:
    • 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
You are not eligible to receive funding under this opportunity if you are:

  • A for-profit law firm or attorney in private practice (See the Glossary for the definitions of “representation” and “employee.”);
  • A current awardee or sub-awardee under the FY 2020 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program (funding opportunities DHS-20-CIS-010-003 and DHS-20-CIS-010-002); or
  • An applicant to DHS-21-CIS-010-003.

If we determine at any point during the review process that your application does not meet these eligibility requirements, we will remove your application from further consideration.

Refugee and Asylee Integration Services Program

The goal of the Refugee and Asylee Integration Services Program is to:

  • Provide extended integration services that build on those received during the initial refugee resettlement period, with the primary focus on helping LPRs who entered the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum, as well as for Cuban or Haitian entrants or individuals admitted on a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) to obtain the skills and knowledge required to successfully pass the naturalization test; and
  • Foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. 

Please note that throughout the rest of this document, LPRs who were admitted or entered the United States as refugees, asylees, Cuban or Haitian entrants, or on a SIV will be referred to as “program beneficiaries” or “program beneficiary” in the singular.

While other federally funded refugee services primarily focus on attaining economic self-sufficiency, this grant strives to promote long-term integration by providing information, knowledge and skills to enrolled participants. 

Funding Opportunity: DHS-21-CIS-010-003
Application Deadline: July 16, 2021 (no extensions) 
Estimated Number of Awards: Up to six
Anticipated Funding Amount: Up to $1.8 million
Performance Period: Two years (comprising two budget periods, each lasting one year)  
Anticipated Award Date: September 2021
Maximum Grant Award: Maximum grant award is $300,000 ($150,000 for the first year and $150,000 for the second year)

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

1. Develop an integration “road map” for each program beneficiary who will receive services, including those who have identified naturalization as a goal and 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. You should assess each program beneficiary for English language level and naturalization eligibility and provide them with information on the naturalization process and what steps they need to take to prepare for naturalization. You should consider this naturalization-focused assessment the foundation of the individual integration plan, with services and referrals tailored to the specific skills, needs and literacy level of the individual. You must include a sample of your proposed integration plan template with your application. You must offer to enroll each program beneficiary in civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, or citizenship instruction class as appropriate. You must propose to serve a minimum of 200 program beneficiaries.

2. Integration services (or referral to integration services) that address the specific needs identified in the program beneficiary’s individual integration plan. You must offer access to a range of services designed to foster long-term integration 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. 

You may propose other services based on the identified needs of the community you propose to serve.

3. Civics-based literacy instruction, civics-based ESL instruction and citizenship instruction to give enrolled clients the skills and knowledge needed to prepare for citizenship. You should serve students through civics-based literacy and/or civics-based ESL instruction if their English level is not at the appropriate level for citizenship instruction classes. You may directly provide this instruction or use a partner to provide these classes. You must propose to enroll and pre- and post-test a minimum of 150 program beneficiaries enrolled in the civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, or citizenship classes.

4. Naturalization application services within the scope of the authorized practice of immigration law at no cost to the enrolled program beneficiary. You must propose to provide a minimum of 175 naturalization eligibility screenings and submit a minimum of 150 N-400 applications on behalf of enrolled  program beneficiaries. You cannot provide naturalization application services to individuals who have not received other services under this grant. You or your partner sub-awardee organization may provide these services.

Eligible Applicants
Eligible entities include:  

  • 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, you must meet the below requirements when you submit your application:

  • You must be an organization with public or nonprofit status.
  • You must demonstrate extensive experience with and knowledge of the provision of ongoing integration services to the proposed population and describe why the applicant is uniquely suited to serve this particular population.
  • You must demonstrate a network of local service providers that you have established an ongoing relationship with for the provision of any proposed integration services that will not be provided directly by the applicant.
  • If you propose to provide civics-based literacy, civics-based ESL, and citizenship instruction If you propose to provide naturalization application services, you 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:
  • You must 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
You are not eligible to receive funding under this opportunity if you are:

  • A for-profit law firm or attorney in private practice (see the Glossary for the definitions of “representation” and “employee.”);
  • A current awardee or sub-awardee under the Fiscal Year 2020 Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program (funding opportunities DHS-20-CIS-010-003 and DHS-20-CIS-010-002); or
  • An applicant to DHS-21-CIS-010-002. 

If we determine at any point during the review process that your application does not meet these eligibility requirements, we will remove your application from further consideration.

Contact Information 

For additional information and updates on the FY 2021 Citizenship and Integration 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 June 9, 2021 from 2 - 3:30 p.m. (Eastern), to address questions about this grant opportunity. Visit our registration page to sign up for the event. 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 Media@uscis.dhs.gov.

Background

Since it began in FY 2009, we have awarded $102 million through 473 competitive grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The program has helped more than 279,000 LPRs prepare for citizenship. 

Through these grant opportunities, we seek to expand the availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services and to provide opportunities for immigrants to gain the knowledge and training necessary to promote their integration into the fabric of American society. Increased learning opportunities and additional citizenship instruction resources in communities will help immigrants improve their English language skills, increase their knowledge of U.S. history and government, and gain the tools to become successful citizens and meet their responsibilities as U.S. citizens.
 

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