On Friday afternoon, the National Book Foundation sent an e-mail to publishers to introduce a new petition process to ensure that authors who are not U.S. citizens are eligible to participate in the annual National Book Awards. The NBF, which administers the awards, has had a long-standing citizenship requirement for NBA participants, but it has often received submissions from authors who are not citizens, and those submissions have increased in recent years.

The new process is for authors who are not U.S. citizens but who have lived in the U.S. for 10 years or more, and for those who have “particularly complex immigration issues,” the email noted. The NBF sees it as a means of allowing more authors to participate in the awards.

The email stated that for an author to qualify for NBA consideration, publishers must answer yes to the three following questions:

  • “Has the author lived in the United States for 10 or more years as of November 30 of the Awards year?”
  • “Was the author’s book initially edited and published by a U.S.-based publisher?”
  • “Does the author consider themselves: an American immigrant who is currently and actively engaged in pursuing citizenship, OR legally unable to pursue traditional pathways to citizenship at this time?”

A source familiar with the creation of the petition process said the NBF isn’t trying to make a political statement but is trying to accommodate the growing number of submissions from noncitizens. “This is about literature, not politics,” the source said.

All NBA submissions are due by midnight on May 16, although the association may grant an extension for publishers applying for authors who are not citizens.