Immigrant Integration? There’s an App for That

Recently, the Migration Policy Institute released a report on cities’ use of technology to increase access to city services, boost civic participation and strengthen immigrant integration.

The potential for apps to play an increased role in this area is due in part to the widespread use of smartphones. According to the Pew Internet Project, 90 percent of American adults have cell phones (including 92 percent of Latinos). Of those, more than half (58 percent) use smartphones (including 61 percent of Latinos).

A number of cities have created apps to provide information to residents and to help residents connect with city government.  Although these apps may not be targeted to immigrants specifically, they can be an alternative way of reaching newcomers who may be reluctant to deal with municipal officials.

CitizenshipWorks was created by New Americans Campaign partners Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and Pro Bono Net

CitizenshipWorks was created by New Americans Campaign partners Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and Pro Bono Net

Among the apps that focus on helping immigrants prepare for citizenship, the New Americans Campaign has its own. CitizenshipWorks includes information on requirements for naturalization, study aids for the citizenship test, checklists to help applicants prepare documents and information they will need for their application and interview, and information about legal assistance providers near the applicant. Scores of apps are available to help English language learners as well.

The Migration Policy Institute report notes that, while apps can be helpful, they will not “provide an easy fix to immigrant integration challenges.” Among the concerns are differences in computer literacy and access to the internet; lack of quality control for rapidly proliferating apps; and sustainability of apps that, once they are developed and released, must be updated over time. There are also concerns about privacy.

Still, apps are an inexpensive way to reach a sizable population, and the potential for their use in teaching immigrants about life in their community has been barely tapped.

Posted on December 9, 2014

Our Impact

  • The Campaign has completed over 3,700 naturalization workshops and clinics.
  • Over 250,000 citizenship applications completed since July 2011.

    Saved aspiring citizens and their families over $206million in legal and application fees.
  • Adopted scalable technology. MP3 players, Google Voice, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services are being used to enhance naturalization service delivery.
  • Expanded New American Workforce (an effort to provide naturalization assistance within corporations) which has partnered with over 100 businesses across the nation, ranging from hotels in Miami to American Apparel in Los Angeles.
  • Deployed Citizenshipworks, an online tool, across the Campaign in multiple settings and languages. A newly redesigned platform guides applicants through through their citizenship application from start to finish and connects applicants to legal help at partnering non-profits.
  • Were instrumental in inspiring the US Citizenship and Immigration Service to support the Citizenship Corners initiative.
  • Created innovative partnerships with public libraries, school districts, universities, social service agencies, and employers, all of which yield not only greater numbers of applicants but also greater awareness of the naturalization process.
  • Deployed a large-scale volunteer recruitment program through an e-learning course.

    Reached diverse communities. Local partners consistently outreach and provide culturally competent and language-appropriate services.
Learn more from our
Impact Report.

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Who We're Helping

People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More