Tax Time!

Bill Bliss Photo 2014Bill Bliss

Here are three quotes appropriate for the month of April:
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
“Why did the colonists fight the British?  Because of high taxes – taxation without representation.”
“When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?  April 15.”

The first was penned by Benjamin Franklin in 1789. The second and third are among the 100 official questions and answers on the US citizenship exam.

Tax Tips

Filling out tax forms always seems to occupy too much time – and often it’s our evening time in April that we might otherwise be devoting to lesson preparation, correcting student homework, or other professional work. So in the spirit of helping you get through tax season, here are some tips to ease your lesson planning on those days you’re slogging through your 1040 form. I hope you find these helpful whether you are preparing students for the citizenship exam or you are incorporating civics topics into general EL/Civics instruction. Continue reading

Out of the Shadows, Into the Classroom:
Executive Action on Immigration and the Impact on Adult Education

2014_BillBlissBill Bliss

President Obama’s recently announced executive actions on immigration have a potentially significant impact on many of the students we serve. The actions include expansion of the population of young people eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, implementation of a new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program for the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have been present in the United States since January 1, 2010, waivers from deportation for spouses and children of permanent residents and for children of U.S. citizens, and proposed changes to immigrant visa policies to expand opportunities for skilled workers and entrepreneurs. READ MORE

A Book for the Future American Citizen

Maria del Carmen AmadoReview by Maria del Carmen Amado
Manager/Editor, Westchester Hispano General

Immigrants who live in the U.S. often want to obtain American citizenship so they can be part of their new country. To do so, they must prepare for the U.S. citizenship test, and familiarize themselves with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interview process.

To assist immigrants with this process, three experienced professionals from Pearson have developed a program called Future U.S. Citizens. This book/DVD program is specially designed to help immigrants who decide to apply for U.S. citizenship to pass the test.  The program combines lessons with interactive practice and is aligned with the current process required by the USCIS. Continue reading

The New N-400 Citizenship Application and Our Students


As of May 5, 2014, the new N-400 form is required for all applications for U.S. citizenship.  The form is longer than the previous one, it adds to the personal information required about marital status and children, it asks several more questions to comply with recent federal legislation related to terrorism and child soldiers, and it therefore has some important implications for the instruction we offer our students who are preparing for their naturalization interview and citizenship exam.  Since a USCIS officer evaluates an applicant’s English speaking ability during the course of the interview, and since the interview focuses on verifying information on the N-400 form, it’s important for our students to be prepared to explain the information they have provided.

(An important note:  Eligibility requirements for citizenship have not changed, and the requirements to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history, government, and civics have not changed.  Only the application form itself has changed, which therefore has implications for the language our students may need to talk about their application during the interview.)  READ MORE