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Immigration Law Blog

Monday, February 4, 2019

An Overview of the Citizenship Test

Being born in the United States (“U.S.”) is not the only way to become a citizen, although it is certainly the simplest method. For those who weren’t born in the United States, the route to becoming a U.S. citizen is termed “naturalization.”

To be eligible to become a citizen through naturalization, you must meet the following requirements at the time of filing the application for naturalization:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a permanent resident for at least 5 years
  • Demonstrate 5 years of continuous residence in the U.S. immediately before filing
  • Demonstrate that you have been present in the U.S. for 30 months of the 5 years immediately prior to filing
  • Demonstrate that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) district where you apply
  • Be a person of good moral character

Additionally, applicants for naturalization must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • An attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S.
  • A basic understanding of U.S. history and government (“civics”)
  • An ability to read, write, and speak basic English

The three additional requirements identified above are established through what is commonly referred to as the “citizenship test,” which requires you to demonstrate a basic ability to speak, read, and write, and an understanding of U.S. civics. The citizenship test is conducted during your naturalization interview with a USCIS officer and will be segregated into the following four individual tests:

Speaking Test – The speaking test involves the USCIS officer asking you questions which you must respond to in correct English. This also tests your ability to understand spoken English.

Reading Test – The reading test involves reading aloud one of three sentences to the USCIS officer. The reading test will challenge your vocabulary and generally focuses on civics. The USCIS provides a reading vocabulary list for the naturalization test which provides key vocabulary used in the reading test.  

Writing Test – The writing test involves writing out one of three sentences. The writing test also focuses on civics. The USCIS provides a writing vocabulary list for the naturalization test which provides key vocabulary used in the writing test.

Civics Test – The civics test involves the USCIS officer asking you ten questions chosen from the USCIS’ list of 100 civics questions. You must answer six out of ten questions correctly to pass.

If you fail either the English or civics test, you may retake the failed portion. Each application provides two opportunities to take the English and civics test, meaning that if you fail the civics test in your initial interview, you have between 60 and 90 days to prepare to retake the failed test. If you fail the second time, you will be required to re-submit the application.

 


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