How will the 2020 US Census affect me?

Are you an immigrant, refugee, migrant, or asylum seeker living in the USA? The Supreme Court said there will be no citizenship question on the Census form. But are you still worried about the 2020 US Census? Learn what it is for and how information is collected. 


US census worker training session
Photo courtesy of the US Census Bureau

What is a census? What is the 2020 US Census?

A census is an official count of people. The US Constitution say the USA must take a census every 10 years to count how many people live in the country. The next one will be in 2030.

It is important that everyone in the USA to complete the 2020 Census! Read our August 2020 post about why Census 2020 online is private and safe.

Why is the Census useful?

The census shows the US government, state governments, and other officials how many people are in each city or part of the country. It helps to set the number of political representatives for each region.  It guides the government in deciding how much money to give to programs in each area. It affects funding for  important services such as hospitals, schools, and roads. The census is useful for other reasons too. You can find all kinds of information on the Census QuickFacts page.

Watch videos about the US Census in your own language

These videos were made by organizations that help newcomers in the USA. Watch immigrants and refugees explain the Census in you language. Thank you, Church World Service in Greensboro, NC, and Lancaster, PA!

How does the US Census work?

The Census Bureau is in charge of running the US Census. Every household in the country will receive a form. A household means within your own home. In an apartment building, for example, there may be many households. 

One person in the household must fill in the form. You can mail the form back. If you do not mail the form back, a Bureau worker will come to your home to remind you!  So it is better to mail the form.

What questions does the Census ask? 

The form will ask for the names of everyone in the household. It will ask for a contact phone number. The form has questions about how many people live in the home and their ages. It will also ask you to state your race and ethnic origin. See the 2020 questions

What extra questions will there be in 2020?

The US administration asked the Bureau to include an extra question for 2020. The question is “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” However, in a court case, the US Supreme Court said the administration did not give a good enough reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 form. The extra question about citizenship will not be added.

Even without the citizenship question, is it safe for me to fill out the form?

News about the citizenship question has made undocumented American residents fear the 2020 form. But the census only works well if everyone is counted: citizens, immigrants with visas, and undocumented immigrants.

US law says the information you put on the form is confidential. This means the Bureau cannot share the information with immigration officials, tax authorities, or law enforcement.

Do I have to answer every question?

US law says, if you live in the USA, you should answer all the questions.  The law says you can be fined for not answering or for giving false information. In reality, this has not happened for many years. But the Census Bureau encourages everyone to answer all the questions.

Watch a video about how to fill out the Census form

Can I be a census worker?

Census Bureau will hire about 500,000 census takers in communities across the USA. The Census Bureau needs multi-lingual workers. If you speak another language and live in a community with many non-English speakers, your language skills would be very useful.  Citizens and non-citizens who are legally entitled to work in the United States can apply online.

How to identify a census worker infographic

The information for this page came from the US Census Bureau. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.