The U.S. citizenship test and interview is an important part of the naturalization process. If you are a legal permanent resident and you wish to become a U.S. citizen, you can apply for naturalization. This is the process through which immigrants can become a U.S. citizen, provided they meet all the eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship.
If you meet the requirements and you wish to obtain citizenship in the U.S., you may file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This article helps explain the U.S. citizenship process.
The naturalization test is an important step in the process. There are a lot of resources available to help you prepare for the citizenship test and interview. However, it is wise to know what the test is all about so that you can easily prepare for it.
The Naturalization Interview
The naturalization interview may be scheduled in approximately six to ten months from filing your application for naturalization. You will receive a letter to appear for the naturalization interview around two months ahead of your scheduled interview.
At this interview, your application will be reviewed by a USCIS officer and a decision will be made on whether you are eligible for citizenship in the U.S. Your knowledge of U.S. history and your ability to understand and speak English will be tested, at the interview.
When you arrive at the appointed local USCIS office for your interview, you will have to check in and wait until your name is called. Once your name is called, you will be lead to the interviewing USCIS officer’s desk. There you might be asked to swear to tell the truth during your naturalization interview.
Make sure to reach the USCIS office around 15-20 minutes early and avoid showing up at the last minute. This interview can take around 20 minutes to complete, more or less. The USCIS officer will review your naturalization application, and they will also ask you questions about the information that you have provided. Through the way you answer the questions they ask during the interview, your ability to understand and speak English will be tested.
You will be asked to write and read out sentences in English. This is to test your ability to read and write English. This test is the first part of the naturalization test. This will be followed by the civics test. The civics test is conducted to test your understanding of the U.S. history and government.
At the end of your interview, you will receive the results. However, you will not officially be granted citizenship until you swear the Oath of Allegiance. Keep in mind that every naturalization interview is unique as each applicant’s situation is unique.
Prepare for the English Test
The USCIS officer will speak to you in English at your interview. Your ability to speak and understand the language will be tested from the time the officer meets you. This does not mean you should not ask the officer to repeat the question or rephrase the question if you did not understand.
Remember, to pass the English test you must be able to read, write, understand and speak English. Following are the tests you will have to take to get through this test
- Reading: You will be given three sentences and asked to read one sentence correctly in English.
- Writing: Similar to the reading test, you will be given three sentences and asked to write one sentence correctly.
- Speaking: A speaking test will not be conducted separately. Your proficiency will be ascertained by the way you answer questions asked at the interview.
If you believe you will need to better your English skills, you can use these study tools available online and prepare easily for your naturalization test.
Without prior preparation, you may not be able to take the civics test. You will need to learn about the history of the U.S. and its government. This test will be in English. If you qualify for a waiver, you may be allowed to take the test in the language of your choice.
There is a list of 100 civics questions. At your naturalization interview, you will be asked 10 questions. These questions will be from the list of the 100 civics questions. You will need to know answers to all the 100 questions to confidently take the test. However, to get through the interview, you’ll only need to answer six questions correctly out of the 10 you’ll be asked. Remember, you will not be given choices.
It is important to prepare for the test well in advance. Several online resources are made available for those preparing for their naturalization tests. You can start preparing for the test soon after you file your application for citizenship instead of waiting until the last moment.
If you do not answer at least six questions correctly, a second interview will be scheduled for another day. This interview will be scheduled within 90 days from your first interview. If you fail your second chance, your application for naturalization will be denied.
If your interview goes well, the USCIS officer will tell you that your application has been approved. You may be given a notice with information on your oath ceremony after the interview or it will be mailed to you later. If the interviewing USCIS officer is unable to make a decision immediately after your interview, USCIS will continue your case. You may be required to provide additional supporting documents or may be required to appear for a second interview.
You will receive Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results at the end of your interview. This form will have your interview results. Your request will either be granted, continued or denied. If “granted” is printed on your Form N-652, USCIS may approve your application for citizenship if the evidence you provided establishes your eligibility for U.S. citizenship. Your application will be “continued” if you failed the English or the civics test or if you did not provide the required supporting documents. If the documents you provided do not establish your eligibility for naturalization, your application will be denied.
Exemptions to the US Citizenship Test
Though the test is an important part of the naturalization process, the USCIS grants exemptions and accommodations to the test requirements to certain applicants.
Exemptions to the English Test
If you are 50 or older, you will have an opportunity to apply for either the “50/20” or the “55/15” exemption while completing your Form N-400.
You may qualify for the 50/20 exemption and may not be required to take the English test if you are 50 years or older when submitting your citizenship application. To qualify for this 50/20 exemption, you must have lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 20 years or more.
You may qualify for the 55/15 exemption if you are 55 or older at the time of filing your naturalization application. In this case, you must have lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 15 years or more.
Accommodations to the Civics Test
Even if you qualify for an exemption to the English test, you will still be required to take the civics test. If you qualify for the “50/20” or the “55/15” exemption, you will be allowed to take the civics test in the language of your choice.
You will be permitted to bring an interpreter to the test. This interpreter must be fluent in your native language as well as in English.
USCIS will give a simplified version of the civics test for applicants above age 65, who have been a permanent resident for 20 years or more.
If you have a physical or developmental disability that prevents you from taking the civics test or from demonstrating understanding of the English language, you may qualify for an exemption to the English and civics naturalization requirements. You will need to submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, (prepared by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist) along with your Form N-400 to request the accommodation for the test.