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New US citizenship form longer, have more complex questions

The process for applying for citizenship in the United States is getting a makeover. The current form immigrants fill out when applying for U.S. citizenship will be replaced in roughly three months. The new form is longer and more complex to help immigration authorities determine if an applicant has links to any terrorist groups as well as militias, prisons, genocide and any military training.

The new form is a result a new laws in the U.S. aimed at making the citizenship process more efficient as well as combat terrorism and child soldiers. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007 are the main reason for the changes to the form. These laws require officials to document and decide if a foreign-born person applying for U.S. citizenship can be banned from becoming a citizen due to ties to terrorist and other groups previously mentioned. 

The new form will be 21 pages long compared to the 10 pages. Officials said part of the reason the new form is longer is due to having thicker bar codes on every page of the form as well as additional questions. 

Officials did not say what specific questions will be on the new forms, but immigration advocates and organizations that help immigrants apply for citizenship are worried the new form will discourage some people from applying. They are specifically worried about immigrants with a limited understanding of English as many of the questions on the new form are more complex, longer and can be very technical. This can make it difficult for immigrants to understand what is being asked, and they may not be able to answer the question appropriately if they cannot understand it. 

Prospective citizens will have roughly three months to apply for citizenship using the current form. Officials also said immigrants can go to workshops in their area for help when applying. 

Source: The Washington Post, "U.S. citizenship process just got harder, with queries on ties to terror and militias," Pamela Constable, Feb. 4, 2014

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