We are introducing the second phase of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Immigration Records SysTem (FIRST), which will allow all FOIA requestors to track their requests through a USCIS online account and receive their documents digitally. During the first phase, requestors reported that they could easily login to their account and download their documents.
Phase two now allows all FOIA requestors to create a USCIS online account, track their cases, and receive their responses electronically.
Until this new system is fully operational, requestors must continue filing their FOIA requests through the current process (by mail, fax, or email). When fully implemented, FIRST will allow online submission, online case management, and digital delivery for all USCIS FOIA requests.
This digital delivery process will save time, improve efficiency, and eliminate potential errors that can occur with manually issuing a CD.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is now accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program that will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.
These competitive grant opportunities are for organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history and civics.
USCIS seeks to expand availability of high-quality citizenship preparation services throughout the country with these two grant opportunities:
- Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services. This grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents. Applications are due by Aug. 8, 2018.
- The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. This grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will help them to obtain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship and to foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. This grant strives to promote long term civic assimilation of those lawful permanent residents who have identified naturalization as a goal, yet may need additional information, instruction and services to attain it. Applications are due by Aug. 15, 2018.
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.
USCIS expects to announce award recipients in September.
Since 2009, USCIS has awarded approximately $73 million through 353 grants to immigrant-serving organizations. These organizations have provided citizenship preparation services to more than 200,000 lawful permanent residents in 37 states and the District of Columbia. The funding of these grant opportunities is supported by fee funds.
To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2018, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).
On July 24, 2018, President Trump signed the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 (the Workforce Act), extending the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker program (the CW-1 program) through 2029 and increasing the CW-1 cap for fiscal year (FY) 2019. The CW-1 program allows employers within the CNMI to apply for permission to employ foreign (nonimmigrant) workers who are otherwise ineligible to work in the CNMI under other nonimmigrant worker categories.
Effective immediately, CW-1 employers must pay a mandatory $50 fraud prevention and detection fee with each petition, in addition to other current fees. USCIS will reject any petition received after July 24, 2018 that includes incorrect or insufficient fees. This new fraud prevention and detection fee does not apply to CW petitions already filed and pending with USCIS as of July 24, 2018.
Importantly, the Workforce Act will require CNMI employers seeking CW-1 workers to enroll in E-Verify and comply with the requirements of the E-Verify program. E-Verify is a web-based system that compares information from Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to government records to confirm that an employee is authorized to work in the United States. Although E-Verify enrollment is not currently required it will soon be a requirement for all employers filing for CW-1 visas. USCIS strongly encourages CNMI employers to enroll in the E-Verify program as soon as possible.
The Workforce Act raises the CW-1 cap for FY 2019 from 4,999 to 13,000, and provides new CW-1 caps for subsequent fiscal years. After announcing on April 11 that it had received CW-1 petitions for more than the number of visas previously available for FY 2019, USCIS will now resume accepting CW-1 petitions. Employers whose petitions were previously rejected because the cap was reached must file a new petition if they want CW workers to be considered under the increased cap. USCIS did not retain and cannot reopen previously rejected petitions.
In addition to extending the CW-1 program, the Workforce Act extends the following Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 provisions until December 31, 2029:
- The exemption from national caps for H-1B and H-2B workers in the CNMI and on Guam;
- The bar on asylum applications in the CNMI; and
- The CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Investor (E-2C) program.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is exercising its discretion, as provided in the Act, to delay implementation of other changes to the CW program affecting CW-1 filers until DHS issues an interim final rule. As of July 24, 2018, USCIS will only accept the May 9, 2018, version of Form I-129CW, Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker. USCIS will reject and return fees for any petitions submitted using a December 11, 2017, or earlier version date of Form I-129CW.