U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Plain Language ...clarity- Conference Papers... · U.S. Citizenship

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June 18, 2012 1

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Plain Language Program

Kathryn Catania

Division Chief, Plain Language and Content


June 18, 2012 2

Who We Are

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the

government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the

United States. We are a component of the Department of

Homeland Security.


Has about 18,500 employees within 250 offices around the world

Provides services to individuals who mostly speak English as a

second language

Has complex regulations that mention terms such as: Principal alien, Derivative status, and Inadmissibility

June 18, 2012

You must show that sufficient physical

premises to house the beneficiary have been


You must show that your employee has an

acceptable place to live.


From instructions asking an employer,

petitioning on behalf of an employee, for

proof that his employee has a place to live.

June 18, 2012

Pursuant to 8 CFR part 3, an appeal shall lie from a

decision of an immigration judge to the Board of

Immigration Appeals, except that no appeal shall lie from

an order of removal entered in absentia.

You may appeal a decision of an immigration judge to the

Board of Immigration Appeals, unless the judge ordered

your removal when you were not physically present at the

hearing. See 8 CFR part 3.

June 18, 2012

Evolution of Program 2008: Started Program Asked U.S. Plain Language Action Information Network for classes

Formed volunteer committee to promote plain language use

2009: Developed USCIS-focused training Created plain language Web-writing class for USCIS Web re-design team

Started building educational tools plain language guide and videos

Held first USCIS Excellence in Plain Language Awards

2010: Offices start making class mandatory Plain Writing Act is signed

Began teaching class to other DHS components

2011 to Present: Acceptance of plain language increases New Plain Language and Content Division in Office of Communications

Program offices thinking about plain language at start of projects


June 18, 2012

Our services


Training Print and


Educational tools


Employee resource

intranet page

Document review

June 18, 2012 7

Training We provide the following:

Classes monthly at HQ

Classes at BASIC training

In-person, video conference or webinar classes to the field

Briefings at USCIS conferences

June 18, 2012 8

Plain Language Guide

Our guide:

Includes key guidance from

the Federal Plain Language


Follows same lessons in our 3

hour class

Includes USCIS examples

Available to all employees


June 18, 2012 9

Plain Language Videos

Our videos:

Focus on key plain-language techniques

Used in classes and new employee orientation

Featured on plainlanguage.gov, uscis.gov and www.youtube.com/uscis

Several agencies are using the videos in their plain language classes


Active Voice

Bulleted Lists





June 18, 2012 10

Broadcast Messages

We send out USCIS Today

messages to keep employees

aware that:

Plain language is now a

federal law not just a best


We provide training classes

We offer online tools


June 18, 2012 11

Intranet Page

Schedule of

upcoming classes

Writing Guide

Plain Language


Plain Language


Info on the Plain

Writing Act

June 18, 2012 12


Language Awards

Great way to

encourage clear


2009 3 Winners

(10 submissions)

2010 6 Winners

(25 submissions)

2011 8 Winners

(42 nominations)

June 18, 2012

Looking Ahead

Our goals for the future include:

Maintaining a culture where plain language is the norm and not

a bump in the clearance process

Getting offices to have designated plain language reviewers

Incorporating plain language into our decision letter process

Writing plain language regulations and possibly revising old



June 18, 2012

Thank You


USCIS Using Bulleted Lists Video.