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The Citizenship Test

The U.S. citizenship test is one of the most intimidating components of the naturalization process. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers this test. It gauges the U.S. citizenship applicant's understanding and knowledge of American history and the U.S. government. The test is very detailed. It sometimes contains test questions that even native-born American citizens can't answer. Thus, naturalization applicants should do proper preparation to pass the citizenship test.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a part of the U.S. government based in Washington, D.C. It plays a vital role in supervising and managing the immigration and naturalization process.

This article provides general information about the application for naturalization. Applicants will better understand what to expect once they start their application process.

The Language Test

Applicants for U.S. citizenship must show their English language proficiency. Permanent residents or green card holders applying for citizenship need not be completely fluent in the English language. They have to do well enough to speak, read and write effectively. The USCIS officer who will be conducting the naturalization test and naturalization interview will assess the following:

  • Speaking English — There is no separate test for the ability to speak English. While the USCIS officer verifies the information on Form N-400, they will check the applicant's ability to speak and understand English.
  • Reading English — The USCIS officer will ask the applicant to read aloud materials provided by a USCIS officer. This part tests the citizen applicant's ability to read English.
  • Writing English — The officer will ask the U.S. citizenship applicant to write a sentence in English. The USCIS officer could ask the applicant to write anything in English. This could be random sentences or information about American history. For example, a U.S. citizen applicant may be asked to write something like “Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States."

A USCIS officer will also ask the applicant to take an oath of allegiance, an important requirement by the American government.

The Civics Test

The journey to becoming a citizen of the United States also asks applicants to take the civics test. Part of the reason for the civics questions is to assess your understanding of U.S. history, the U.S. government, and the amendments to the U.S. Constitution. For instance, they can ask you, “Who is considered the father of our country?" Or ask you to name some of the amendments of the Constitution, such as the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech, and other civil rights.

Civics tests related to the branch of government could include questions about the federal government, executive branch, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senators, U.S. Presidents, or the Vice President of the country.

The immigration service also lists all the possible questions and answers, study resources, and study materials. There are also audio tapes and phone apps that can help applicants study for the civics test.

Failing a Test

If the citizenship applicant fails the U.S. citizenship test on the first attempt, the USCIS officer can schedule a second interview. The second interview will also allow the applicant to try again. If the applicant fails the test the second time, the U.S. citizenship application will be denied. But, this will not prevent the applicant from trying again.

Test Requirement Waivers

Those with a documented disability may receive a waiver of either or both of the tests, depending on the disability. Also, older permanent residents may be eligible to waive or reduce the testing requirements.

  • Applicants 50 or older who have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident or a green card holder for 20 years are not subject to the English language requirement. Despite this eligibility exception, they may still be asked to take the civics test.
  • Applicants 55 or older who have lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident or a green card holder for 15 years are not subject to the English language requirement.
  • Applicants 65 or older who have lived in the U.S. lawfully for 20 years receive special consideration about the civics requirement.

The U.S. government designs these waivers to simplify the naturalization process for long-term American applicants. The civics test may also be done in the native language of the applicant. The application also has space to request accommodation for other disabilities that may impact your application process.

Seek Help From an Immigration Law Attorney

U.S. citizenship applicants may find navigating the journey to citizenship complicated. But, it is important to remember that there are valuable resources you can use to help your citizenship application.

If you or your family members need legal help, whether you're in New York, Maryland, or any part of the country, it is best to contact an immigration law attorney near you. They can help you better understand the U.S. citizenship application process.

Learn About The Citizenship Test

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