The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced an unprecedented partnership with the nation's nearly 9,000 public libraries to provide U.S. immigrants with information about the citizenship and naturalization process.
Partnering with the USCIS in the project is the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 public, college, and school libraries and 17,500 museums.
According to the IMLS, immigrants are among the most loyal and frequent library patrons. In fact, the group's research shows that more than 55% of people who immigrated to the U.S. over the last 15 years visit a public library at least once a week, thus making them ideal places for immigrants to get information about U.S. citizenship.
"As one of our country's oldest and most important social institutions, public libraries are a welcoming space in American communities," said USICS Director Alejandro Mayorkas in a press release. "We are proud to partner with IMLS to strengthen the support libraries provide to immigrants preparing for citizenship and the naturalization process."
Under the agreement, the USCIS will supply libraries with current information and educational resources on all naturalization processes. In addition, the USCIS and IMLS will jointly host citizenship education sessions and naturalization ceremonies in local libraries.
In addition the USCIS and IMLS will work together to combat the unauthorized, often fraudulent practice of immigration law.
"This partnership will assist IMLS in continuing its efforts to help libraries foster an atmosphere of cross-cultural understanding and learning opportunities in a trusted environment," said IMLS director Susan Hildreth. "With access to information and materials in multiple languages, along with classes to help immigrants learn English and improve digital literacy skills at many locations, libraries are well positioned to support America's newcomers."
To find a public library near you, visit the Search for Public Libraries web page, a service of the National Center for Education Statistics.
Every year, about 860,000 immigrants successfully complete the U.S. citizenship test and proudly take the last step in the naturalization process, swearing to the Oath of U.S. Citizenship and Allegiance.