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The Naturalization Test

The Naturalization Test

There are a wealth of benefits inherent in US citizenship, such as voting rights, eligibility for government jobs or public office, and the ability to petition to bring family members to the US permanently, but the process of becoming a naturalized US citizen is certainly not easy.

First, you must fulfill strict eligibility requirements to even be able to apply. There is a long list of potential ways in which an immigrant could be eligible for naturalization, the most common of which is to have lived in the US with permanent resident status for at least five years (or three years if the green card holder can show he has been "living in marital union" with a US citizen spouse for the entire three year period). Additionally, said green card holders must not have left the US for six months or longer during that time span. Note that there are some even faster options for eligibility for members of the US military! Once eligibility is determined, the person seeking to become a naturalized citizen will submit their N-400 Application for Naturalization along with relevant fees, photographs, and documentation. Most applicants will be required to submit to biometrics (fingerprinting), and then if everything checks out, an appointment for the naturalization interview and test will be set.

This is perhaps the most infamous part of the naturalization process, and certainly the most intimidating.

The Naturalization Test consists of the applicant going to his or her local US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office at the appointed time. They must bring a significant amount of documentation such as their permanent resident card. First, applicants are subjected to an interview phase with a USCIS agent. The agent will place them under oath and ask them questions regarding their background and aspects of their current life such as where they currently reside. They will ask questions to ascertain the applicant's character and their willingness to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Once the interview is completed to the agent's liking, the applicant will sit for the actual "test" phase of the Naturalization Test. The test is a literal written and spoken test of the applicant's English language abilities and their civic knowledge of US history and government. The English language part of the test will consist of three parts. The first part will require the applicant to read English out loud in a manner that proves they understand the words being spoken. The second part involves writing in English in a manner which is comprehensible to the USCIS officer. The third part of this test is a determination on the applicant's ability to speak English, and it is made by the officer based on the the first two parts of the test. The second half of the Naturalization Test involves the USCIS officer verbally asking 10 civics questions to the applicant. Questions come from a pool of 100 potential questions regarding US history and government. Applicant's must answer a minimum of six questions correctly to pass this section of the test. Based on the results of the application and the Naturalization Test, USCIS will make a determination immediately following the interview of whether to grant or deny citizenship to the applicant. They may also continue the application process by requiring a second interview or that more information be provided.

The naturalization process, and in particular the Naturalization Test, can be very difficult and complex. Fortunately, if you take the proper steps to alert USCIS, an applicant can have an attorney sit with them for the interview and test. If you have questions about naturalization or you need help with the application process, contact Landerholm Immigration today and let us guide you towards achieving your dream of becoming a US citizen.


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