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Updates from the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services


Monday, November 2, 2009
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USCIS Naturalization Test to Become Fully Implemented

Effective Oct. 1, 2009, all citizenship applicants must take the new naturalization test, regardless of when they filed their Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).

“Becoming a United States citizen carries with it extraordinary rights and responsibilities,” said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.  “Our new test captures the meaning of citizenship and is consistent with our values and history as a nation.”

The revised naturalization test will help strengthen integration efforts by emphasizing fundamental concepts of American democracy, basic U.S. history, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

USCIS began administering the new naturalization test Oct. 1, 2008, with two basic objectives – to ensure a uniform test administration nationwide and to develop a civics test that can effectively assess an applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government.  Up until Oct. 1, 2009, applicants who had filed for naturalization before Oct. 1, 2008, had a choice of taking the old test or the new test.  Currently, the overall pass rate for the new test is 91 percent.  To learn more about U.S. citizenship and the naturalization test, logon to www.uscis.gov/citizenship

USCIS Launches New Website

On September 22, 2009, USCIS launched a redesigned website—available in English and Spanish—a major effort which fulfills President Obama’s pledge to offer enhanced navigation tools for the public to access immigration information and review case status.

“Transparency and openness are critical to effective immigrationUS and citizenship policies,” said Secretary Napolitano. “USCIS’ new website provides the public with the latest tools—from text messages to emails—to improve responsiveness and access to immigration services.”

“The redesigned website we are launching today reflects our commitment to listening to the public and creating a better experience for the hundreds of thousands of USCIS customers we serve,” said USCIS Director Mayorkas. “This effort is the first step toward creating a more innovative, customer-centric experience that meets the nation’s citizenship and immigration needs.”

The new USCIS website provides a one-stop location for immigration services and information—including an innovative service called My Case Status, which allows immigration customers to receive alerts on the status of their applications via text message and e-mail.

Other new features include a Where to Start tool to guide users through the navigation process; a simplified way to track individual case status; local and national case processing times; an improved search engine; and a new Information Dashboard feature allowing users to access national immigration trends associated with immigration petitions and applications. Check it out at www.uscis.gov

Federal Contractors Required to Use E-Verify Beginning Sept. 8, 2009

Beginning Sept. 8, 2009, all federal contractors and subcontractors are required to use the E-Verify system to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States if their contract includes the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify Clause.

In July, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano strengthened employment eligibility verification by announcing the Administration’s support for the regulation that will award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization.

E-Verify, which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) (see link to the right) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens.

The Federal Acquisition Rule; Case 2007-013; Employment Eligibility Verification (see link to the right) extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.  Applicable federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after Sept. 8 will include a clause committing government contractors to use E-Verify.

Companies awarded a contract with the E-Verify clause on or after Sept. 8 will be required to enroll in E-Verify within 30 days of the contract award date.  E-Verify must be used to confirm that all new hires, whether employed on a federal contract or not, and existing employees directly working on these contracts are legally authorized to work in the United States.

More than 145,000 participating employers at nearly 550,000 worksites nationwide currently use E-Verify to electronically verify their workers’ employment eligibility.  Since Oct. 1, 2008, more than 7.6 million employment verification queries have been run through the system and approximately 97 percent of all queries are now automatically confirmed as work-authorized within 24 hours or less.

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About Igbanugo Partners Int'l Law Firm

Igbanugo Partners Int'l Law Firm is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It focuses on (1) U.S. immigration law and (2) international trade law in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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