U.S. Citizenship Test & Interview: Everything You Need to Know

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Many permanent residents are eligible to become U.S. citizens but are intimidated by the citizen test and interview. While the citizenship test does require study, you should not let it discourage you from applying for citizenship. The benefits of citizenship can be considerable. Knowing what to expect from the test can help you prepare and ease your worries.

This page should give you all the information you need regarding what to expect from the U.S. citizenship test and interview, as well as how to prepare. Don’t be intimidated by the application process. As long as you meet the requirements for citizenship, proper preparation should give you all the tools you need to become a full-fledged United States citizen.

Goals of Citizenship Test & Interview

The U.S. citizenship test and interview are typically the final barriers between an immigrant and U.S. citizenship. There are multiple reasons why this test and interview are conducted. One of the objectives is to ensure that you meet all of the requirements for U.S. citizenship.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also uses this opportunity to review your immigration file to make sure there are no old issues that might stand in the way of your path to citizenship.

The citizenship test, which is broken up into an English test and a civics test, is used to determine how well you have adopted your new country. The U.S. English test checks your reading, writing, and speaking skills, while the U.S. civics test checks your knowledge of the history and government of the country.

Note: The vast majority of those who take the test pass. The total national pass rate is calculated by USCIS based solely on an applicant’s first test in the current citizenship application.

Source: USCIS

What to Expect During the Citizenship Test & Interview?

After your biometric test, USCIS will mail you an appointment notice for your citizenship test and interview. The date and time of your interview will be mentioned in the mail. At the time of your biometric test, you will be given a study booklet to help you prepare for the citizenship test.

English Test

There are three sections in the English test which are speaking, writing and reading. The reading and writing tests will be conducted using a digital tablet. At the start of the interview, the USCIS officer will explain the purpose of the interview, ask for identification and place you under Oath.

You should always tell the truth. Failing to tell the truth could lead to denial of your application. The USCIS officer will also show how to use the digital tablet before you begin.

Speaking Test

Your ability to speak English will be determined by a USCIS Officer during your interview. A USCIS officer will ask questions regarding your Form N-400 application and your eligibility to apply for citizenship. When you are answering the questions the officer will also determine your English speaking ability. 

Writing Test

During the interview, you will be given three sentences out of which you should write one sentence correctly. This is to check your ability to write in English. 

Reading Test

You will be given three sentences out of which you should read one sentence correctly. This is to test your English reading skills.

Civics Test

During your civic test, you will be asked about U.S. history and the government. The civics test is not a multiple-choice test. The civics test is an oral test and a USCIS officer will ask you up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions in English.

You must answer 6 out of the 10 questions correctly to pass the civics test. Some people might be eligible to take the citizenship test in their own language. This exemption is applicable to only eligible people. More on this topic is covered below.

How to Prepare For Citizenship Test?

English Test For Citizenship

One of the best ways to prepare for the English test is by taking a practice test. While a U.S. citizenship English practice test will not be an exact match to the test you will actually receive, it will give you a good idea of the types of questions you can expect to face.

It is essential to be aware of the fact that assessing your English skills will not be limited to the test itself. When you meet the USCIS officer, they will begin judging your ability to speak and understand the language. Don’t get discouraged if the officer asks you a question you don’t understand. Instead, ask them to please rephrase the question.

Unless you are exempt from taking the English test, you will be assessed on your skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. USCIS offers many free study tools that can help you prepare for the U.S. citizenship English test.

Civics Test For Citizenship

As with the English test, one of the best ways to prepare for the civics test is through a practice test. A U.S. citizenship civics practice test can help test your readiness for taking the civic test. While a new U.S. citizenship test was introduced in 2020 with changes to the civics section, the decision to change the test was reversed by the Biden administration.

Instead, the 2008 version of the test has returned. Under this test, citizenship applicants are asked 10 questions from a list of 100 possible questions. To pass the test, an applicant must answer six of these questions correctly. Thoroughly studying the 100 potential questions should leave you fully prepared for the test.

Just like with the English test, you can obtain many free study tools from USCIS to help you prepare for the civics test.

Exemptions & Accommodations for U.S. Citizenship Test

In some situations, applicants are eligible for exemptions or modifications to the U.S. citizenship test.

English Language Exemptions

When filling out your application for naturalization (Form N-400), you can select certain exemptions. With the English language requirement, you can apply for an exemption if you are:

  • 50 years of age or older when you file Form N-400 if you have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for 20 years or more
  • 55 years of age or older when you file Form N-400 if you have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for 15 years or more

Civics Test Accommodations

While the above situations exempt you from the English section of the U.S. citizenship test, you must still complete the civics portion. However, if you qualify for an English exemption, you can take the civics test in your native language. To take advantage of this accommodation, you must bring an interpreter to your interview who is fluent in both English and your native tongue.

You can also qualify for a simplified version of the civics test if you are 65 years of age or older and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 20 years. In this case, you will only be required to study 20 possible questions for the test, rather than the 100 potential test questions that others may face.

Exemptions may also be made for individuals with disabilities or impairments. If a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment interferes with your ability to successfully complete the citizenship test, you can submit Form N-648: Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.

Documents Required for Citizenship Test

It will be in your best interest to keep a file of all the documents required throughout the naturalization process and bring it with you to your citizenship test and interview. Once you file Form N-400, keep a copy of it along with originals and copies of all other supporting documents you submitted along with the application.

You should also include any letters that you receive from USCIS. It is a good idea to review this file before you go in for your U.S. citizenship test and bring it with you so that you can easily reference any documents you require.

What Happens at a Citizenship Interview?

When you meet with a USCIS officer at your U.S. citizenship interview, they will ask to see your identification and place you under oath.

What Questions Do They Ask in the Citizenship Interview?

Once you have been placed under oath, the officer will proceed to ask you questions about:

  • Your background
  • Your character
  • Your place of residence and how long you have lived in the United States
  • Evidence supporting your case
  • Your attachment to the United States Constitution
  • Your willingness to take an Oath of Allegiance

You should carefully review your N-400 application before your interview. The officer will ask you questions from the form to test your English proficiency and confirm that the information you provided on the form is accurate. The office will likely ask you additional questions beyond what is listed on the form to further understand your situation.

If there have been any changes to your situation since you filed your application, you will be asked to explain. Unless you lied when filling out your form or had a change in circumstance that makes you ineligible for citizenship, a discrepancy should not negatively impact your application.

How Long Is the Citizenship Test and Interview?

In most cases, a citizenship test and interview will take around 20 minutes to complete. However, each application is different, and your test time could vary for a variety of reasons.

After Citizenship Test

Once you have completed your United States citizenship test and interview, you will receive the results. How long you will have to wait for USCIS to make a decision can vary greatly. You could receive their decision on the day of your exam or up to 120 days later. Your application will either be approved, denied, or continued.

A continuation means that USCIS needs more information before they can make a decision. They will request additional documentation and reschedule you for another interview.

If Passed…

If you passed the citizenship interview and test, the only thing left to do is complete your Oath of Allegiance ceremony. If your citizenship gets approved immediately after your test, you may even be able to swear your oath that day.

If Failed…

If you failed your U.S. citizenship test, USCIS will notify you of your denial of naturalization. You will receive a notice by mail, which will include instructions on how you can appeal the decision. When you appeal a decision, you will be doing so because you feel that USCIS made a mistake.

You will not have the option to appeal a decision based on a failure of the English or civics test.

Options After Failing the Citizenship Test Once

After failing the citizenship test once, if this was the only reason why your citizenship was denied, you will have the option to retake the test. If you failed one portion of the test but passed the other, you will only have to retake the section you failed.

Your retest will be scheduled 60 to 90 days after your original test. If you feel you need more time to study, you can ask for a postponement.

Options After Failing the Citizenship Test Twice

If you fail the test a second time, you can request a hearing by filing Form N-336. At the hearing, you can present a statement if you believe that your application was wrongfully denied or that you did not actually fail the test. At the hearing, you will have to take the test again. If you fail the test for a third time, your citizenship application will be denied.

If you still wish to pursue citizenship, you will have to restart the whole process by submitting a new Form N-400.

How ImmigrationDirect Helps You Apply for Naturalization and Helps With the Citizenship Test

At ImmigrationDirect, we can provide you with all of the tools you need to make sure your naturalization application is completed correctly and that you are fully prepared for your citizenship test. Contact us today to get started.

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