How Do I Prepare For The U.S. Citizenship Interview?

As a green card holder, there are two things that you should expect from the U.S citizenship interview. Firstly, prepare to be asked questions regarding your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and the supporting documents of the application. Secondly, prepare to take the citizenship test, which comes in two parts: the English and civics tests. The first set of questions that the USCIS official will ask you during the interview derive from the information that you provide on the application. You may keep a copy of your application to help you prepare for that part of the citizenship test.

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The second set of quizzes will be based on the civics portion of the naturalization test. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a government agency that oversees immigration issues, provides some study materials for the citizenship test to help you prepare for the second part of the naturalization interview.

This article gives you a step-by-step guide on the preparation for the U.S. citizenship interview.

What To Expect During The Interview With The USCIS Officer?

Each interview will be conducted in a private office or cubicle. The USCIS officer will begin the interview by asking you to swear that whatever information you will give throughout the interview will be truthful.

At the interview, the officer will also explain to you the purpose of the interview and ask for a government-issued identification document such as a driver’s license to verify that they are interviewing the right applicant.

The USCIS officer will ask you general questions during the interview. Some may be based on the following:

  • Your background information
  • Your supporting documents
  • Your place of residence and how long you have lived there
  • Your willingness to take the citizenship oath
  • Your character

These quizzes derive from your Form N-400; therefore, you have to make sure that the answers you give are accurate based on your application. If your answers to the test interview are different from those provided in the application, the USCIS official will need a valid explanation. Sometimes, the USCIS officer may ask you random questions related to your application, even though the questions may not have been part of the questions provided in the application.

For example, in the application form, if you indicated that you traveled out of the U.S. and provided sufficient evidence of the same, the officer may ask you to talk about your trip abroad and what you did while away.

Throughout this interview, the USCIS agent will also be keen on knowing whether you comprehend the English language as part of the language test. The questions about your application will also double up as your English speaking test. If you do not understand a particular question being asked, you may ask the officer to repeat or rephrase it for you.

What To Do When There Are Changes Since Filing Your Application

The USICS officer may ask you whether there are changes in your form N-400 since you filed it. Some changes may be insignificant, for instance, the birth of a new baby born after your form N-400 submission.

Other changes may affect your U.S. citizenship request, however, it is always good to mention any changes and give a valid reason. If you are unsure of how to handle any significant changes, then you may need to seek the help of an immigration attorney before attending your interview.

Here are some examples of significant changes:

  • Divorce from your U.S. citizen partner who you are referencing for your eligibility for form N-400
  • You have traveled abroad and stayed there for over six months
  • If you have committed any crimes after filing Form N 400

You must remember that you are under oath to say the truth. False information will affect the credibility of your good moral character, which is an important requirement for the citizenship test.

Documents You Need To Bring To The Naturalization Interview

There is a list of documents that you will be required to carry to your naturalization interview depending on the type of request. These may include the original copies of the documents you filed, some supporting documents, and the appointment notice you received from the USCIS inviting you for the citizenship test and interview. You have to make sure that you have prepared all the supporting documents well in advance. You may use Form M-477, Documents Checklist to find out what documents you are required to have and if you have prepared them accordingly.

What To Wear To A Naturalization Interview And Test

The USCIS does not provide a standard dress code that is required for the interviewees. Whatever you choose to wear will not affect the outcome of your request. However, it would be best if you are presentable and comfortable enough throughout the interview.

How To Prepare For The English Test

Every Applicant is expected to take this test. The USCIS however has some exemptions for some applicants for naturalization who will not be required to take the test. These are permanent resident card holders of age 5o and older and have lived in the United States for at least 20 years, or green card holders of 55 years of age and older and have lived in the United State for at least 15 years.

The language test examines your ability to read, write, and speak the language. The naturalization interview covers the first part of the test, which is the speaking test. While you will be answering questions about your form N-4oo, the USCIS officer will also assess your ability to speak the English language. There are two more sections that remain for the test to be complete. These are the reading and writing tests.

The English Reading Test

The USCIS officer will give you three sentences to read out loud. To pass the test, you must read at least one of the three sentences correctly. Many common mistakes such as different pronunciations are expected and may be acceptable while testing your ability to read in English. The USCIS has provided some of the reading materials on their website to help you improve your English. The flashcards contain all the vocabularies that are found in the English section of the naturalization test. These words mostly derive from U.S. history and government.

Some Common Vocabulary On The Reading Test

Some vocabularies are commonly used in daily written and spoken English, for example, question words like who, what, where, when, why, and how. The USCIS has created and provided such a list on the flashcards which you may print and use for practice. The flashcards also have spaces at the back which you may use to write some sentences around the new words that you have just learned.

More complex vocabularies are from the civics portion of the test. Here are common civics and history words that may be used during your practice as suggested on the USCIS website:

History Vocabulary
  • Bill of Rights
  • American Flag
  • Father of Our Country
  • Congress
  • American flag
  • Bill of Rights
  • Government
  • Country
  • Capital
  • Citizen
American Holidays Vocabulary
  • Columbus Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Flag Day

The English Writing Test

In the English writing test, you are expected to show your ability to write in English. The officer will read out three sentences to you as you write them down. To pass, you must write at least one of the three sentences correctly. You can also find some practice materials to help you improve your English skills.

Here are some of the writing vocabularies that are commonly used during the writing test:

Common Places

  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Alaska
  • California
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Delaware
  • New York City
  • Canada
  • Washington

Civics Test Vocabulary

  • American Flag
  • capital
  • citizens
  • Civil War
  • Congress
  • Father of Our Country
  • freedom of speech
  • President
  • American Indians
  • Senators
  • White House
  • States

How To Prepare For The Civics Test

The civics test examines the applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government. The USCIS also has sufficient study materials for practicing on its website. There are 128 civics questions and answers available on the USCIS website for practice.

If you are not exempted from the civics test, you will be required to study all the 128 civics test questions and answers and take the test in English. Non-exempted applicants will be asked 10 questions out of the list of 100 provided for practice. To pass, an applicant is expected to get at least 6 of the questions correctly.

If you are above age 50 and you have been exempted from the English test, you may be allowed to take the test in your native language. You need to bring an interpreter to help you translate the test questions to you and your answers to the USCIS officer. The interpreter must be fluent in both English and the native language.

If you are above age 65, you do not need to study all the 128 civics questions. You will only need to study 20 of them. The USCIS officer will ask you 10 questions from the list of 20 that you were required to study. To pass, you must answer at least 6 of the asked questions correctly. The 20 questions that applicants 65 years of age and above are required to study are simplified and marked with an asterisk to make them easy to differentiate from the other 100 questions.

If you are totally exempted from the civics tests and, or the language test, due to a physical or developmental disability, then you must submit form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.

The USCIS made an important update on their website regarding the civics section of the citizenship interview and tests. As of April 1st, 2021, the USCIS will no longer be using the 2020 version of the civics test. Applicants will be required to study the 2008 version of the citizenship test.

Sample Questions From The 2020 Version Of The Civics Tests

The civics test is divided into two sets of civics questions. One portion has questions about the American Government and the other portion comprises questions about Amerian History. Here are some sample questions from the list:

Some Questions About The American Government

  • What is the form of government of the U.S.?
  • What is the supreme law of the land?
  • Name one thing the U.S. Constitution does
  • What does the Bill of Rights Protect?
  • Why is the Declaration of Independence Important?

Some Questions About The American History

  • Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
  • What group of people was taken and sold as slaves?
  • Name one reason Americans declared independence from Britain
  • What war did the Americans fight to win independence from Britain?
  • Who wrote the declaration of independence?

Some Questions For Applicants Of Age 65 and above

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was famous for many things. Name one
  • What major event happened on September 11th, 2001 in the U.S.?
  • Why does the U.S flag have 13 stripes?
  • Name three National Holidays in the U.S.
  • George Washington was famous for many things. Name one

Preparing Your Interpreter Or Representative

Applicants who are exempted from the English test may decide to take the civics test in their language. Therefore, they have to inform the USCIS early enough that they would be accompanied by an interpreter.

The interpreter must be fluent in both English and the native language of the applicant. They must also carry an identification document that they will issue to the USCIS agent. The interpreter must translate exactly what both you and the USCIS officer are saying without adding or removing any information in your favor.

Some applicants may need a legal representative if they have a legal issue that they may not know how to address on their own. If you need to have your attorney at the interview, you are required to inform the USCIS in advance by completing form G-28, Notice of Entry or Appearance as Attorney or Representative.

What to Expect After The Citizenship Test

The results of your citizenship interview and test should be out by the end of the day. The USCIS officer will give you a notice that bears the results of the interview and test and may also include the final decision.

If Your Application Is Successful

After passing the U.S citizenship interview, you will be one step away from becoming a U.S. citizen. You will now be required to take the oath of allegiance to become a citizen. In some instances, the oath of allegiance may be conducted on the same day for successful applicants. If that does not happen, the naturalization ceremony may be conducted on a different date, but within 120 days of passing.

If Your Application is Continuing

Apart from the decision toward citizenship, you may need to continue with your application if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services require more supporting documents from you. The USCIS will send you a Request For Evidence (RFE) stating all the missing or unclear documents that you must provide to continue with your application.

Another reason the USCIS may need to continue your application is if you failed the citizenship test or a portion of it. The USCIS officer will schedule another day for the interview, mostly between 60 to 90 days after your first interview. You must pass the test on the second trial if you wish to become a citizen of the United States.

If Your Application Is Denied

If your application for US citizenship is denied, you may have to wait for another five years before you can apply for U.S. citizenship after correcting the errors that led to the denial. If the USCIS finds you inadmissible, your permanent resident card will be revoked and you may be deported back to your home country. Some of the reasons for inadmissibility are lack of good moral character and lying in your application.

How To Make Sure That You Pass Your Citizenship Interview

Apart from reading all the available materials for the tests and preparing all required documents, here are a few more tips to help you prepare for your U.S. citizenship interview:

Keep Yourself Updated On Any Changes In Your Application

Always be aware of changes in the USCIS regarding the N-400 Application for Naturalization. The USCIS may update their requirements from time to time. These updates are normally included on their website. For example, the USCIS recently announced that they are planning to do away with the 2020 version of the civics test from April 21st, 2020. Any applications filed from that date will be subjected to the old 2008 version of the civics test. However, applicants who filed before that date have the option of deciding which version of the test they would like to take. This information is important for applicants who are preparing for their interviews.

Do Not Lie

Before beginning the interview, a USCIS officer will request you to take an oath, to tell the truth during your interview. The USCIS officer will hold you accountable for any lies they discover in your application or during your interview. Being honest also makes you a person of good moral character which is a considerable requirement of the applicants’ admissibility into the country. The USCIS may decide to not only deny your application but also place you in removal proceedings that will have you deported back to your country.

Keep All Records Of The USCIS Interactions You Have Had In The Past

The immigration officers are always keen on tracking the records of all immigrants and their interactions with the law and the USCIS. It would be wise to always remember such encounters, whether they were interviews or emails. Such records will help you be well-prepared for the interview so that you do not have any inconsistencies in your application.

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