What you need to know about the U.S. Citizenship test

Student taking the The Naturalization Interview and Tests.

Becoming a United States citizen requires you to complete an interview, which will include a conversation about your application form and three tests. During the conversation, an officer of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will assess your ability to understand and speak English. After that, he/he will administer The Naturalization Tests. These three tests assess your very basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics), as well as your ability to read and write some simple sentences in English. All parts of the interview and citizenship test are given orally. If you do not pass the test the first time, you will be rescheduled for another attempt within the following 90 days.

What are the costs?

Fees for various parts of the naturalization process are subject to periodic change, so the latest fee scale should be consulted. Many of the minor forms may be filed at no charge. According to the most recent fee schedule (2010), the fee for submitting the required N-400 form is listed as $595, with an additional $85 added if a biometrics appointment is necessary. There is a process, however, through which you can have this fee waived. It is also common for social service and community agencies to help with the payment of this fee. The most updated rates are available here on the official USCIS website.

What should I bring?

On the day of your interview appointment, you will need to have several items with you to complete the process: the appointment notice mailed to you after you applied for naturalization your permanent resident card all your valid and expired passports a state-issued ID card, such as a driver’s license

Other documents can prevent delays in your naturalization procedure, so be sure to bring these along if they apply to your particular situation: documents proving marital status documents proving any name change you may have made proof of spouse’s marital history, if previously married (divorce decree, etc.) any court records that include your name Selective Service Registration (if you are a male between ages 18 and 31)

Notes: If you feel sick or have another emergency on the day of your interview appointment, be sure to call ahead to inform the USCIS office and reschedule your appointment. Failure to do this could delay or even prevent your access to citizenship. If any of the information you supplied on your N-400 form has changed (divorce, job change, new child, etc.) since it was filed, be prepared to discuss these changes.

What kind of job can I get?

Simply living permanently in the United States entitles a person to some rights, by virtue of the United States Constitution and the laws of the country. As a resident, you are automatically entitled to certain protections under the law. Becoming a citizen of the United States will provide many other privileges, such as voting and being able to bring family members to this country from other locations.

Am I eligible?

To begin the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship, you must: be at least 18 years old have held a green card for at least 5 years have resided in the United States continuously for at least 5 years be a person of good moral character be supportive of the United States, including its constitution and laws satisfy other requirements, as listed on the official USCIS website.

To take the Naturalization Test, you must first complete the following: Submit form N-400 to the USCIS and obtain a receipt for it. Obtain an interview appointment notice, which will be sent by the USCIS when all preliminary processes are complete. Note: A biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment may be necessary. See this link from the official USCIS website for additional specific information about requirements for naturalization in general.

Why does it matter?

Just living permanently in a country may offer you much of what you desire in life, but becoming a citizen means much more than that. It means that you will become a part of the country’s heritage and proclaim allegiance to its government. Citizenship also entitles you to many rights that are not given to non-citizens. Being a U.S. citizen gives you additional responsibilities, as well.

What salary can I expect?

While there is no pay earned for simply becoming a citizen, there are benefits that could lead to earning a higher salary in your chosen field. For example, only citizens may work for U.S. government agencies, which often offer very competitive salaries and benefits. Also, if travel is a part of your job, U.S. Citizenship will provide you with U.S. Government assistance while you are abroad.

When is it available?

The interview and its associated tests are conducted at USCIS offices around the country. To find a location near you, visit this link on the USCIS website. You must have been issued an interview appointment to take this test.

Tips & Tricks

Before you attend your interview/testing session, thoroughly review your application and all documentation that you have submitted or will be taking with you. Practice speaking, reading, and writing in English, including following orally-given instructions.

Time Allowed

On the day of your appointment, arrive at least 15 minutes early and allow for any possible traffic delays you might encounter. If you do not arrive on time for your appointment, the USCIS office may immediately cancel the appointment and require you to reschedule it for another day, which may involve a considerable delay.

Once there, you will first go through a security screening and then be asked to wait to be called in for the interview. There is really no way to tell how long you might have to wait for your interview to start, regardless of your appointment time. Average reported wait times seem to be in the range of 15-30 minutes. This time may be affected by such things as staff absences and weather-related delays. Since you don’t want to have to leave and reschedule, it is best to plan to allot the greater portion of your day to this naturalization process.

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