1. What Happens in the U.S. Citizenship Interview?
2. What Do They Ask in the Citizenship Interview?
3. How do I prepare for my citizenship interview?
4. Citizenship Interview Question Samples to Help You Prepare
5. How Long is the Naturalization Interview?
6. Can I Bring a Child to the U.S. Citizenship Interview?
7. What Documents Should I Bring to My Citizenship Interview?
8. Exemptions and Accommodations for Citizenship Interviews
9. In Conclusion

After filing your citizenship application, your journey to becoming a U.S. Citizenship isn't over yet. The citizenship interview is the last step before completing your naturalization journey.

Near the end of your Form N-400 processing period, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send you an appointment notice for the citizenship interview. And if all goes well, you will probably get U.S. citizenship from the USCIS by the end of your appointment.

Yet, millions of eligible permanent residents or green card holders don't take the next steps toward becoming U.S. citizens because they worry about the naturalization test and interview.

It's normal to feel anxiety when faced with a citizenship interview, especially if you're unsure about what to expect. If you understand what to expect and prepare for it, the rest of the interview should go smoothly.

What Happens in the U.S. Citizenship Interview?

At the USCIS citizenship interview, an official will ask for your identification, ask you to raise your hand and swear under oath, to tell the truth, and also ask about:

  • Your background
  • Supporting documents acting as evidence for your case
  • Your place of residence and length of stay
  • Your personality/character
  • Your understanding of the United States Constitution
  • Your willingness to recite an Oath of Allegiance

Review your Form N-400 carefully before your appointment because a big part of the citizenship interview is about a review of your application for naturalization (Form N-400). You should also be ready to give any additional information, such as details of the time you traveled outside the U.S. or if you recently took any trips abroad.Furthermore, you should prepare to answer if there have been any changes since you filed Form N-400.

In most cases, the changes in your application are small because they are normal life changes. A new address, a new job, a new child, or a vacation abroad generally will not influence your naturalization process. But it's still essential to understand how any changes to your N-400 form may impact your eligibility for naturalization.

Some changes that may affect your eligibility include, but are not limited to:

  • If you traveled outside the United States for more than six months.
  • If you were recently arrested for a crime or messed up the exceptional moral character requirement.
  • If you are recently separated or divorced from a U.S. citizen whom you are using as the basis of your citizenship eligibility.

If any of these situations impact you, it is strongly recommended that you contact an immigration lawyer before attending the citizenship interview.

What Do They Ask in the Citizenship Interview?

During the citizenship interview, the USCIS officer will ask many citizenship interview questions, including the following:

  1. Questions depending on the content included on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  2. English Language Test, which tests your reading, writing, and speaking abilities in the English language
  3. History and Government or Civics tests

How do I prepare for my citizenship interview?

To prepare for the citizenship interview, you will need to understand what to expect and what questions the USCIS officer can ask.

Questions About Your Form N-400

As already mentioned, a large part of the citizenship interview includes questions related to the N-400 Application for Naturalization you filed. The USCIS officers monitor responses during the interview using many questions based on your application and supporting documents.

Hence, you need to spend a significant amount of time reviewing the copy of your N-400 and be familiar with the questions and answers before attending the interview. This helps you to be comfortable when you anticipate answering the interview questions. In addition, take note of any events or situations that may have affected your questionnaire answers in your application.

It's crucial to note that apart from confirming the information in the N-400 application, the USCIS officer will use this portion of the interview to test your English-speaking ability unless it exempted you from taking the interview in a different language.

English Test

You will need to show your ability to write, read, and speak at a basic English level. This means pertinent communication using simple grammar and vocabulary. You may ask the officer to rephrase or repeat certain words. You may make some mistakes in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and still pass.

English skills are tested in the following ways:

Speaking: There is no official test for English-speaking skills. The USCIS officer will check your ability to communicate in English as soon as they meet you. The USCIS officer will discuss your Form N-400  with you while assessing your ability to speak English.

Reading Test - The officer will typically ask you to read one written sentence out of three sentences. You should read it out loud, showing that you understand the meaning of this sentence and that the USCIS officer can understand it.

While you may leave out short words or make intonation or pronunciation errors, you must read as many words as you can. The errors should not interfere with the meaning of the sentence.

Writing - You must write one sentence out of three sentences dictated by the USCIS officer in a way that the officer understands. You must not abbreviate any words.

You don't fail the writing test because of capitalization, spelling, or pronunciation mistakes, unless these interfere with the meaning of the sentence and the USCIS officer cannot understand the sentence.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers several free online study tools to help you prepare for the English reading and writing test.

History or Civics Test

You will also have to take civics tests to show your understanding of the United States history, principles, and government fundamentals. The test will be delivered in English unless you qualify for a language exemption, in which case you will take the test in a language of your choice.

To sufficiently show knowledge and understanding of civics, you must pass the civics test by answering several interview questions correctly.

Test questions are selected randomly, and a USCIS officer administers the questions orally. The test stops when you correctly answer the least number of interview questions needed to pass the civics test, usually at least six out of ten, to prove your knowledge of United States history and government. The USCIS website offers a full list of all questions that an immigration officer can ask. The questions are picked randomly and asked until you answer at least six correctly. You are free to phrase your answers the way you prefer, as long as they are correct.

USCIS currently offers two versions of the citizenship test: the 2008 test with a maximum of 100 questions and the 2020 test with a maximum of 128 questions. Your applications and initial naturalization dates decide which version of the civics questions you may take.

And like the English test, several free learning tools are available to help you get ready for the civics test.

Citizenship Interview Question Samples to Help You Prepare

While USCIS provides free study tools with a full list of interview questions to help you prepare, here are some examples to help you prepare. You may or may not be asked a few of these questions. But it helps to be well prepared, however, how simple the interview questions are. USCIS uses each interview question as a part of your English-speaking test.

Personal Information or Background Questions- N-400 Review

These are interview questions in your N-400 application. The USCIS officer uses these questions to confirm eligibility and that no changes can affect your naturalization.

Personal history

  • What is your name?
  • Where were you born?
  • How old are you?
  • What color are your eyes and hair?
  • What is your race?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What are your religious beliefs?
  • What is your current job?
  • What's your highest level of education?

Family history

  • Are you married?
  • Are your parents U.S. citizens?
  • When did you get married?
  • Is your spouse a U.S. citizen?
  • What is your spouse's country of residence?
  • If divorced or separated, when did your previous marriage end?
  • Do you have children?
  • When and where were your children born?
  • Where do your children currently live?

Finances

  • What is your job?
  • How much do you earn per year?
  • How long have you been an employee at your current workplace?
  • Are you your family's sole provider?
  • Do you intend to apply for financial support from the U.S. government?
  • If married, does your spouse have a job?
  • Do you pay your local income tax return?
  • Do you owe any state or local government federal taxes?

History or Civics Questions

Similarly, USCIS offers a complete list of 100 civics questions in this part of the naturalization interview. You can use this list to prepare for the citizenship interview. The civics interview questions cover the U.S. Government, history, flag, constitution, and court.

Here is a list of some of the more common questions that are asked on this test:

United States Government

  • Who is the current United States President?
  • When do citizens vote for the U.S. President?
  • How often do people vote for a new president?
  • Which are the two primary political parties in the United States?
  • What are the three branches or entities of the U.S. Government?
  • What branch of the government handles law-making?

United States History

  • Who was the first U.S. President?
  • Which country did the United States fight in the Revolutionary War to get independence?
  • Which countries did the United States oppose during World War II?

United States Constitution

  • When was the Constitution originally written and ratified?
  • Who is guaranteed Constitutional rights?
  • What is the introduction part of the Constitution called?
  • U.S. Constitution has how many amendments?
  • Name one requirement according to the Constitution to be an American President.

How Long is the Naturalization Interview?

A typical naturalization interview lasts roughly 20 to 30 minutes. However, the exact time taken varies depending on each applicant.

Can I Bring a Child to the U.S. Citizenship Interview?

No! The applicant scheduled for the interview is the only person allowed in the testing room unless in special situations where an applicant must bring an attorney or representative by filing Form G-28. Children are allowed to wait outside the testing room, along with a caregiver.

What Documents Should I Bring to My Citizenship Interview?

Attend the interview at the scheduled date and time stated on the appointment notice and bring the following documents to the interview:

  • Form I-1551, Green Card or Permanent Resident Card
  • Interview appointment notice
  • A second form of government-issued identification with your photo (driver's license, passport, or state-issued identification card)
  • All your valid and expired passports, as well as travel documents
  • Other documents as needed by the USCIS from Form M-477, Document Checklist.

Exemptions and Accommodations for Citizenship Interviews

The USCIS allows exemptions and modifications to the citizenship interview requirements. These are available only to individuals who qualify.

English Test Exemptions

You are exempt from the English skills test under the following situations:

  • You are age 50 or above at the time of filing your naturalization application and have lived as a permanent resident in the U.S. (green card holder) for 20 years or more (also known as the "50/20" exception), or
  • You are age 55 or above at the time of filing the N-400 application and have lived as a green card holder or permanent resident in the U.S. for 15 years or more (commonly known as the "55/15" exception).

Note that you will have to take the civics test even if you qualify for the above exemptions.

Civics Test Accommodations

If you qualify for the 50/20" or "55/15 exemptions, you will be allowed to take the civics test in your preferred language. In this case, you will need to bring an interpreter fluent in both your native and English language to the interview.

In addition, if you are at least 65 years old and have been a green card holder (permanent resident) for 20 years or more at the time of filing the N-400 application, you will be given special consideration for the civics requirement.

Disability or Impairments Accommodations

You may qualify for accommodations if you have a developmental or physical disability or mental impairment preventing you from showing your understanding and knowledge of the English language or civics requirements during the naturalization interview. File an original Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, to request this exemption. This form must have been completed by a licensed medical doctor or clinical psychologist.

In Conclusion

Successfully signifying your eligibility through the citizenship interview can be challenging. A skilled immigration lawyer can help you complete the naturalization process. Get in touch to see how our attorneys can help you complete your application process.