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Promoting American Citizenship

Per the Economic Times, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched a campaign urging the over 12 million Green Card holders in America to become citizens. It is indeed the first time that the immigration agency has launched a paid advertising campaign to promote American citizenship in the minds of Green Card holders. This promotion campaign will include advertisements on radio, TV, print media and Internet with messages in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese and English. The campaign is mainly targeted at major U.S. states where many Green Card holders live, such as California, New York, Florida and Texas.

The Awareness Initiative concentrates mainly on the awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of US citizenship, and the free naturalization preparation resources available to green card holders and immigrant-serving organizations.

Out of the 12.5 million Green Card holders in the US, almost 8 million are currently eligible for US citizenship. Green Card holders feel that since they can legally live and work in the US, there is no need to apply for citizenship. However, they need to understand that it gives them the benefit of voting, obtaining a US passport to travel without restrictions, obtaining better jobs. Studies show that people who become citizens earn more money too. It is an important step in fully integrating into a new society and enables immigrants to vote, serve on a jury and get more involved in the political process.

Per the USCIS, last year more than 700,000 immigrants applied to become US citizens, a 25% increase from the year before. Green Card holders living in the US for 5 years, showing good moral character as well as passing an English and civics test can apply for naturalization. Apart from these, there are many other eligibility requirements that one needs to fulfill in order to qualify.

Through this campaign, USCIS seeks to:

  • Increase awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of US citizenship.
  • Encourage eligible permanent residents to consider the benefits of US citizenship for themselves and their communities.
  • Increase understanding of the naturalization process and requirements.
  • Increase awareness of available citizenship preparation resources.
  • Educate eligible permanent residents about the steps they need to take to apply and prepare for the naturalization process

The campaign messages feature professional actors depicting immigrant stories. These individual stories focus on the diverse backgrounds of immigrants both past and present. The stories also reflect many of the motivating factors immigrants have often noted as common reasons for opting for US citizenship.

From the early 1900s, the federal government has promoted an awareness of citizenship and prepared immigrants to get naturalized. The present initiative builds upon those historic efforts and supports the mission of the USCIS Office of Citizenship, created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to further promote instruction and training on rights and responsibilities. Since July 2009, USCIS has reached more than 32,000 Green Card holders and potential naturalization applicants at approximately 560 naturalization information sessions through USCIS field offices, local community groups and immigrant-serving organizations.

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