In the last decade, more than 10.7 million people became naturalized U.S. citizens claimed about the complexities of tests and interviews that linger on the process of U.S. citizenship. Yet, millions of more eligible permanent residents (green card holders) are anxiously waiting in the queue to clear the citizenship test and interview to reach the dreamed destination, ‘U.S. citizenship.’ To bring out the people from the alarming dream of test and interview, this guide will redirect your efforts towards meaningful guidelines to prepare for the U.S. citizenship interview and test.

How to prepare yourself for tests and interviews?

When you have filed Form N-400 to become a U.S. citizen, interviews and tests are the last impediments to reach the land of opportunity. You will get an interview call from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) via email about the venue, time, date, and required documents to bring to the interview. A USCIS officer will conduct your naturalization interview in a private office or cubicle.

Stages of citizenship interview

a. Review N-400 Application

A USCIS officer is the ultimate designating authority to conduct a naturalization interview surrounding a review of your form n-400 (application for naturalization). Officer will ask several questions about your application and supporting documentation to ensure the reliability of the information provided in the application form, along with testing your ability to understand and give reply in English.

Therefore, you must review your N-400 application form before going to the interview to memorize the information provided in the form. It will make you more comfortable and confident in answering the questions asked by an officer. Moreover, if you want to make some changes in the application form, you must contact an immigration attorney before attending the naturalization interview not to affect your eligibility to naturalize. It may include;

  • A new job
  • A new address
  • A new child
  • A recent divorce or separation
  • An arrest or anything
  • An absence from the United States for a period of six months or more.

b. Required documents

An applicant is required to maintain the folder of all related documents includes a copy of your application, originals of all supporting documentation, and any communication you receive from USCIS. In addition to our guidelines, you must bring all items requested by USCIS mentioned in the ‘interview appointment notice.’ Specifically, you must take the following documents to the naturalization test and interview include;

  • Interview appointment notice
  • Permanent resident card (also known as a green card)
  • Driving license or other state-issued identification cards
  • All current and expired passports and travel documents

Note: Depending on your information provided in N-400, you may need to take these items;

  • Evidence of current marital status
  • Proof of termination of previous marriages
  • Tax Returns or an IRS Tax Transcript
  • Lease agreements
  • Bank statements
  • Utility bills
  • Car titles
  • Insurance statements
  • Birth certificates or adoption decrees of your child

Documents of Support for dependents (if you have dependent children living apart from you), e.g., money order receipts, a court or agency document showing child support payments, evidence of wage garnishments, or a letter from the parent or guardian of the child(ren).

  • Selective Service Registration document.
  • Arrests/Detainments/Convictions.
  • Certificate/documentary evidence of Military or Naval Service.

c. During citizenship interview

During citizenship interview, the USCIS officer will ask certain question about;

  • Your background
  • Evidence supporting your case
  • Your place and length of residence
  • Your character
  • Your attachment to the Constitution and
  • Your willingness to take an Oath of Allegiance

You must ensure to review your N-400 application carefully before going for an interview, as the USCIS officer will use your application form to confirm the authenticity and correctness of information provided by you.  In case of any discrepancy between your answers, application form, and supporting documents, you have to justify its actual reason.  In case of any change in the application, you must have a valid reason for it that will not affect your eligibility to naturalize. Whereas some changes may affect your eligibility;

  • If you traveled abroad for a period of more than six months.
  • If you were arrested for certain crimes.
  • If you have recently divorced a U.S. citizen and you were applied for citizenship on the basis of marriage.

You are highly recommended to approach an immigration lawyer to save from the rejection of a citizenship application in the above conditions.

d. English Test

The test is a part of the naturalization interview in which the USCIS officer will test your ability to read, write, and speak English unless you are exempted from the English requirements. The officer will test your English skills in the following ways:

To perform best in English test;

  • You must be an active listener to understand the question of the USCIS officer. He/she is observing your ability to follow simple instructions and answer the specific questions. If you don’t understand a question, ask the officer to repeat the question instead of guessing about it and giving wrong answers.
  • You must have an excellent vocabulary to understand the question and instructions of a USCIS officer and write the sentences in English as asked.

e. U.S. Civics Test

USCIS officer will test your knowledge about U.S. history and government. You must attempt a civics test in your preferred language, even you have been exempted from the English test. In the test, the USCIS officer will ask up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions in English. From which, you must have answered at least six questions correctly to pass the U.S. civics test. Otherwise, the naturalization interview will stop, and USCIS will re-take the test on another day (within the next 90 days).

Note: Several FREE study tools are available from USCIS to help you prepare for the history/civics portion of the test.

f. Naturalization Interview Decision

If you have successfully attempted the interview and test, you may have a chance to know about the decision. While, if the officer couldn’t decide on approval or rejection of the application, he/she may require additional evidence which you did not provide earlier. Lastly, if USCIS rejected your application, they will provide the actual reason for the denial, and you have an option to appeal or file a new application.

Exemptions & Accommodations for U.S. Citizenship Test

There are following exemptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements available to specific individuals who qualify.

  • English Language Exemptions: Some people don’t need to attempt an English test if they meet 50/20 or 55/15 criteria’
  • The 50/20 Exemption: 50 years old and green card holders for more than 20 years are exempted from the English test.
  • The 55/15 Exemption: 55 years old and green card holders for more than 15 years are exempted from the English test.
  • Civics Test Accommodations: If you qualify for the “50/20” or “55/15” English language exemptions listed above, you will be permitted to take the civics test in your native language.

Exemptions for Individuals with Disabilities or Impairments

In case of physical or developmental disability or mental impairment, you may qualify for an exemption to certain parts of the naturalization test. To avail the exemption, you must submit an original Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, at the time of filing Form N-400. Form N-648 must have been prepared by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an A-File?

Ans: Every green cardholder has an “Alien Registration Number,” also called A-File, that USCIS uses to track their immigration history. A-File contains records of all communications and interactions between you, USCIS, and other government agencies.

How early should I arrive at my naturalization interview?

Ans: You must reach the venue at least 15-20 minutes before the interview. Please don’t be late, it can create a negative impression about your personality and behavior, and USCIS could decide to close your case file. Give yourself some extra time; try to avoid last moment arrival. You need time to find parking, navigate a new building and get through security.

What should I wear for the interview and test?

Ans: There is no formal dress requirement for U.S. citizenship interviews and tests. You may wear business casual but look professional. You should avoid wearing jeans, shorts, and t-shirts. While women can wear a nice collar shirt or blouse. It’s your choice but try to wear something comfortable.

What if I don’t pass the civics portion of the naturalization test?

Ans: You have only two chances to attempt the civics test. You must have to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly. If you can’t pass on the first attempt, the interview will stop, and you have to reappear on another day (within the next 90 days).

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