Page 1 - Interview Study Guide for the U.S. Citizenship Test
Preparing for the U.S. Citizenship Interview
The U.S. Citizenship Test will begin with an interview conducted by an officer. You will want to practice speaking to ensure that you can answer appropriately, especially if English is not your native language.
Success during the interview does not require you to speak perfect English and the officer is not allowed to fail you because of any accent in your speech. The officer is just looking for a general understanding of questions and your ability to answer them in a way that he/she can understand.
Practicing conversations in English is the best way to ensure success in this section of the naturalization process. Be sure to practice with someone who is fluent in English and, perhaps, not familiar with your native language. That way, you will have to practice speaking in a way that is understandable.
Here are some things for which you need to practice and prepare:
Types of Questions
The officer will try to get to know a little bit about you and why you want to become a citizen by asking a variety of questions. He/she will also try to determine that all of the information you provided on your N-400 application form is correct and accurate. These are the types of questions you will be asked:
At first, the officer will ask you to come in, have a seat (sit down), and may ask you some other questions, such as “How are you?” or make other polite conversation. This is the first step in determining if you understand English well enough to hold a simple conversation. You must be able to do this in order to become a U.S. citizen. Practice conversations with people who are fluent in English and will give you suggestions on how to improve your speaking skills.
Confirming the N-400 Form
The application form you filled out to begin the citizenship process (the N-400) is the single most important thing to study as you prepare for the interview. Memorize all of the information on there so that you can confirm dates and other information when you are asked. For example:
Officer: I see here that you have 3 children. Were all of them born before you entered this country? or Officer: Your application states that you have had three different jobs in the U.S. When did that first job begin?
Changes Since the N-400 Was Submitted
There very well may have been changes since you filed the N-400 form. This is fine, as long as you inform the officer of these changes, no matter how small. If he/she does not ask about them, be sure you tell about the changes before the interview is over. You may want to make a list to take with you so you won’t forget. It is important that everything is recorded correctly. If anything is found to be untrue later, you may be denied citizenship or your citizenship can be taken away.
The officer may ask you if there are any changes in the information on the form. If he/she does not ask, and it appears the interview is at an end, be sure to say something like this:
Excuse me, but I would like to tell you about a change (some changes) on the form since I filed it.
Then, go on to tell the officer about, and provide documentation for, those changes, like this:
I have changed my address since the form was filed. Here is a copy of a power bill I received (or lease agreement I signed) at my new address.
I have changed jobs since I filed the form. Here is a letter from my new employer (or a copy of my paycheck stub showing my new employer’s name).
My wife and I have had another child since the form was filed. Here is the birth certificate.
Specific Skills to Practice
Before the interview, practice holding a conversation with another person who is fluent in English. Especially if your first language is not English, practice to be sure you can:
Be very responsive. Do what the officer asks as soon as you can. If you do not understand a direction or question, ask the officer to repeat or rephrase it. Face and look at the officer as he/she speaks to you. Try not to look at the floor or elsewhere. In American culture, frequently looking elsewhere while speaking is often interpreted as an attempt to hide something. Practice looking at the person to whom you are speaking, even if this is not part of your culture.
Follow simple commands or directions, such as:
Sit down (have a seat here).
Stand up (remain standing).
Bring your papers with you.
Calmly explain anything on your N-400 form that you may be nervous about. The officer is looking for honesty. He/she will expect a certain amount of nervous tension, but try for a calm and forthright explanation of items on your form.
Example: Let’s suppose that you recently got your first traffic ticket and this had not happened when you filled out the N-400.
Officer: I see that you have not had any traffic violations since you have been in this country. You: I did not have any when I filed that form, but I did get one just last week.
(You would then produce the documents associated with the violation and hand them to the officer.)
Other Things to Remember
Be sure to make a copy of your N-400 application and review it many times before the interview day. You may want to make another copy that you can mark on as you practice, highlighting any areas on which you think you need more practice.
Practice answering questions about the form in English with a friend or family member who is fluent in the English language. That person can help you make sure your answers are understandable. If reading English is not easy for you, he/she can also help you practice by reading our practice test questions and answers to you. Remember, all questions will be asked orally during the actual interview.
Ensure you have paperwork concerning any changes in the information you supplied on the application. Remember that lying about any information, no matter how small it seems to you, can cause you to be denied citizenship or to have your citizenship revoked later.