Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview

For every person who becomes a U.S. citizen through  the process of naturalization, there is at least one other person who is legally eligible to do so but doesn’t because they are afraid they won’t pass the citizenship test and interview.

On one hand, it is understandable if you feel this way. But on the other hand you shouldn’t let your fear stop you from achieving your dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. This is because  United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides free resources to help you prepare for both the citizenship test and the interview, along with information about the process. If you use them, you will be prepared and confident when the time comes for your test and interview.

Millions of eligible permanent residents never take advantage of becoming naturalized U.S. citizens because they are concerned about the citizenship test and interview. Don’t miss out on your opportunity.

By preparing for the test and interview and knowing what to expect, you can be ready to confidently answer any question and easily clear this hurdle to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

What to Expect at Your Citizenship Interview

Here’s a general overview of what to expect at your interview. First, the USCIS officer will ask for your identification. He or she will then ask you if you promise to answer all questions truthfully (this is called an oath). You will then be asked about the following:

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview  Your history (Civics (History and Government) Questions for the Naturalization Test) 

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview  The material (proof or evidence) used to support your case

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview  Where you live in the United States and how long you’ve lived there

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview  Whether or not you believe in the ideals of the U.S. Constitution and whether or not you are ready to swear allegiance to them

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview  Your honor and integrity

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Be very familiar with the information on your N-400.

The USCIS tests, not only your ability to speak and understand English by reviewing the application with you, but also the authenticity of the answers you have provided. Be ready to explain any difference between your answers and your supporting documents. You should be prepared to supply additional information, including details about any recent trips to other countries. Your ability to understand and respond to  interviewing officer in English will be part of your test.

In general, minor changes such as a new address or job will not affect your eligibility to naturalize. Some changes, however, can have a tremendous impact, including:

❌ Travel outside of the U.S. for more than six months;
❌ Arrests for certain crimes or other incidents that show lack of  good character;
❌ Recent divorce of the U.S. citizen who sponsored you if you are a three-year marriage based applicant.

If any of these circumstances apply to you, consult an attorney.

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Immigration Advocacy Service

You can choose to have an experienced immigration attorney review your application and correct any mistakes.

Preparing for the English Test

As soon as the USCIS officer who is interviewing you greets you, he or she is gauging your ability to understand and speak English.  Unless you have requested and received an exemption from the English requirements, during the interview, your ability to read and write and speak in English will be evaluated. Although you may feel nervous or uncomfortable, don’t panic. If you don’t understand a question, you may simply ask the officer to rephrase it.

The officer will use the following tests during the evaluation:

  • By responding to the USCIS officer’s questions, you’ll prove that you can speak English.
  • You will be asked to read one out of three sentences so the USCIS officer can assess your English comprehension.
  • You will be asked to write one out of three sentences so the USCIS officer can see how well you understand it. 

The following resources are available from USCIS to help you study for your English test.

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These printable flash cards are an easy way to help you learn the vocabulary words you’ll need to know for the English reading portion of the test.

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Writing Flash Cards

These printable flash cards are an easy way to learn the vocabulary words you’ll need to know for the English writing portion of the test.

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Reading Test Vocabulary List

A comprehensive list of vocabulary words for the English reading portion of the test.

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Understanding Commands for the Naturalization Interview

This listening activity will help you recognize commands you may hear during your interview. Download the flash cards to reinforce what you’re learning.

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Vocabulary for the Naturalization Interview: Self-Test 1

This reading activity contains words and phrases seen on the Application for Naturalization or heard during the interview.

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Vocabulary for the Citizenship Interview: Self-Test 2

This reading and listening activity contains words and phrases seen on the Application for Naturalization or heard during the citizenship interview.

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During your interview, you will be tested- in English- on your knowledge of U.S. history and government. If you requested and received an exemption, you will be able to take this test in your language, or perhaps a simplified version of the test.

In most cases, however, you must answer six out of 10 civics questions correctly to pass. These questions will be pulled from a list of 100 questions that you can study before the interview.
As we already mentioned, USCIS provides several free online study tools to help you prepare for all aspects of the citizenship interview and test, including the civics portion.

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Complete list of civics test questions and answers.

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Complete list of civics test questions and answers.

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Study for the civics portion of the test with these online videos and activities highlighting museum objects from the Smithsonian Institution.

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One of the four different self-tests available to help you practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government.

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One of the four different self-tests available to help you practice your knowledge of U.S. history and government.

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Civics Flashcards
(English version)

Downloadable flash cards that contain each of the 100 questions and answers for the civics portion of the citizenship test.

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Civics Flashcards 
(Spanish version)

Downloadable flash cards that contain each of the 100 questions and answers for the civics portion of the citizenship test.

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Brief video overview of the naturalization process and test.

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Video introduction to U.S. History and Civics and highlights of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens.

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Quick Civics Lessons
A study booklet that contains short lessons related to each of the 100 civics test questions and answers.

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Immigration Advocacy Service

You can choose to have an experienced immigration attorney review your application and correct any mistakes.

What You Should Take to Your Citizenship Interview

Be sure to keep a file that includes all of the records associated with your application for U.S. citizenship including a copy of your completed Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This file should also include copies of all materials used to support your case and any correspondence exchanged between you and USCIS.

Bring the file to the interview  along with anything else requested on your appointment notice.

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U.S. Citizenship Test Exemptions and Accommodations

As we have already noted, there are certain modifications and exemptions to the naturalization requirements, but these are only made for qualified applicants.

English Language Exemptions

As you are filling out your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, you can select certain exemptions that may apply to your situation. These are the English language requirement exemptions for which you may be eligible:

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview The “50/20” Exception. This is available to applicants 50 years of age or older at the time of filing who have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least 20 years; or

yes - Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Test and Interview The “55/15” Exception. For applicants 55 years of age or older at the time of filing who have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for at least 15 years.

Civics Test Accommodations

Even if you qualified for the “50/20” or “55/15” exception for English language requirements listed above, you are not exempt from the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship test. However, you if qualified for an English language exemption, you can take the civics test in the language of your choice.

You may also use an interpreter for the civics test, but only if you are accompanied by an interpreter who is fluent in both English and the language in which you have chosen to take your test.

Applicants who are 65 years of age or older at the time of filing and have been a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for a minimum of 20 years will be allowed to take a simplified version of the civics test.

Exemptions for Applicants with Disabilities

If you are unable to satisfy the the English language or civics requirements for naturalization because of a mental handicap or physical or developmental disability, you may be allowed to skip portions of the naturalization test. If you need this type of exemption, request it  by submitting  an original Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions along with their Form N-400. Keep in mind that a licensed clinical psychologist or licensed medical or osteopathic doctor should complete this form no more than six months before you file Form N-400.

U.S. CITIZENSHIP INTERVIEW AND TEST FAQS

Should I wear any special clothing to my naturalization interview?
While formal attire is not necessary, you should dress professionally. A shirt with a collar or nice blouse for women will be sufficient. A suit and tie is certainly appropriate, but remember to also dress comfortably.
Can I reschedule my interview time?
You can, but it is strongly recommended you attend the scheduled time. This interview time has been set aside especially for you and rescheduling could set your naturalization process back by months.

When should I arrive for my naturalization interview?
Arriving 15 to 20 minutes before your scheduled appointment time is recommended. Allow yourself enough time to clear security and navigate unfamiliar surroundings. USCIS typically schedules interviews in blocks of time, so you could be called either at the beginning or the end of the time block. Chances are you will have to wait once you check in, but that’s better than being late and risking having your case closed.

What if I don’t pass both parts of the naturalization test?
If you fail any portion of the test, the interview will be stopped and rescheduled for another time within the next 90 days. If you cannot pass all portions of the test on your second interview, your N-400 will be denied.

When will I find out if I’ve been approved?
You should know the outcome immediately. You will receive Form N-652, Naturalization Interview results. This form will indicate one of three results:
  1. This means USCIS approved your N-400 based on evidence establishing your eligibility.
  2. This means You failed part of the test or you did not give USCIS all the appropriate documents. You will be given more time to make the necessary corrections.
  3. This means USCIS could not establish your eligibility to naturalize based on the evidence you submitted.

If you were approved you will be scheduled for an oath ceremony where you will officially become a U.S. citizen.

If your case is continued, you will be notified of the corrections you need to make.

If you were denied, you have the right to appeal the decision.

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