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GELS: Growing Equitable Library Services

Resources related to the GELS series

Citizenship and Immigration

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency overseeing lawful immigration to the United States, states its mission as follows:

"USCIS upholds America’s promise as a nation of welcome and possibility with fairness, integrity, and respect for all we serve."

For nearly a decade, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has worked with USCIS to support libraries in providing accurate and useful information to their communities about citizenship and immigration. Under this partnership, USCIS leads trainings and creates content, including digital tools and resources, specifically to empower and educate library staff to best serve their new American communities. As the IMLS shares,

"Public libraries help ease the way for people new to the United States to participate fully in American society. Libraries serve as a gateway to citizenship, offering English language learning, training materials and resources on immigration and citizenship, and opportunities to connect with the local community."

In fall 2022, USCIS provided a series of trainings open to all CT library staff covering Immigration 101, Naturalization 101, and USCIS Online Tools.

Immigration 101

Enacted in 1952, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided, at the time, a new framework for immigration law, and has since been revised numerous times. Today, it still includes many of the most important immigration law provisions. The INA defines an immigrant in broad terms:

"The term "immigrant" means every [noncitizen]" except those who are legally here under nonimmigrant classes (INA section 1101(a)(15)).

Naturalization 101

Choosing to become a US citizen is a significant decision for an immigrant, that in turn directs them towards pursuing naturalization. 

"Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a lawful permanent resident after meeting the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)."

USCIS Online Tools and Resources

USCIS Online Tools and Resources provides a variety of pathways for accessing information including:

  • Self Service Tools to check case status and processing times, make appointments and file online; 
  • Locators to find doctors, education classes, offices, and forms;
  • Citizenship Corner including a full resource center and practice civics tests; 
  • Online Resources with ways to find authorized providers, how-to guides, and a multilingual resource center; and
  • Research Tools consisting of an electronic reading room, immigration and citizenship data, and USCIS genealogy, history office and library, and more.

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