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If you're in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, this guide will help you understand the final steps of the citizenship journey. To get citizenship, you'll need to do the naturalization interview and naturalization test — with some exceptions applicable. These two are also known as the citizenship test and citizenship interview. During the citizenship interview, a USCIS officer will ask about your application and background. This comprehensive guide contains all the information you'll need to navigate this process.

What is the naturalization interview?

In the United States, the naturalization interview is a crucial step in the process of becoming a citizen. During this interview, an immigration officer will assess the applicant's eligibility for citizenship.

A large part of the naturalization interview includes reviewing information in your Form N-400 application. USCIS will ask questions about the information you gave on the form, review the documents you submitted with the forms and simultaneously test your ability to speak and understand the English language — which is a requirement for naturalization.

During the interview, if you do not understand the questions, ask the officer to repeat it or explain the question using other words. You will be asked for your interview notice, your permanent resident card also known as a green card, passport and state issued identification.

During the interview you will be asked questions about your travel outside the U.S. and it will be verified by USCIS. USCIS may also ask for additional information for the answered on the Form N-400.

What is the naturalization test?

The naturalization test will determine you have an understanding of the English language by passing a reading and writing test. You must demonstrate an understanding of spoken English during the interview. You must also show knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government by passing a civics test.

What is the English test?

The English test in the naturalization interview assesses an applicant's ability to speak, read, and write in English.

  • Speaking. Your ability to speak and understand English will be determined by a USCIS officer during your eligibility interview about the Form N-400.
  • Reading. You must read aloud one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to read in English. The Reading Test Vocabulary List will help you study for the English reading portion of the naturalization test. The content focuses on civics and history topics.
  • Writing. You must write one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate an ability to write in English. The Writing Test Vocabulary List will help you study for the English writing portion of the naturalization test. The content focuses on civics and history topics.

The purpose of the English test is to ensure that applicants have a sufficient command of the English language to communicate effectively in everyday situations and to fully participate in the civic life of the U.S. Applicants are encouraged to practice their English skills and review common vocabulary and phrases related to citizenship and daily life.

What is the Civics Test?

The civics test in the naturalization interview is designed to assess an applicant's knowledge of U.S. history, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. These questions cover a range of topics, including the founding principles of the U.S., the branches of government, key historical events and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The 2008 version of the civics test is an oral test and the USCIS officer will ask you up to 10 questions from the list of 100 civics test questions. You must answer 6 questions correctly to pass the 2008 version of the civics test.

  • Applicants who filed their Form N-400 before December 1, 2020, will continue to take the 2008 civics test at initial exam, re-exam, or N-336 hearing.
  • Applicants who file their Form N-400 on or after March 1, 2021 will also take the 2008 civics test at initial exam, re-exam, or N-336 hearing.

Where can you find Official Study Materials?

You can find official study materials for the citizenship test on the USCIS website including civics flash cards, interactive practice tests, study booklets, videos and more. You may purchase USCIS products and publications from the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Who's exempt from English and Civics tests?

Exceptions and accommodations for the naturalization tests are available for certain individuals who qualify for naturalization. USCIS offers exemptions to the English language requirement under specific circumstances.

  • Individuals aged 50 or older, having lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 20 years, or aged 55 or older with 15 years of permanent residency can be exempted from the English language requirement but are still required to take the civics test. Those who qualify for these exceptions can take the civics test in their native language with an interpreter fluent in both English and the applicant's native language. For more information, see here.
  • Applicants with physical, developmental, or mental impairments may be eligible for exceptions to the citizenship test. To request this exception, applicants must submit Form N-648, completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist.
  • Certain individuals engaged in specific overseas employment may also be eligible for exceptions to the continuous residence requirement. Be sure to visit the Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements for Naturalization page.
  • Accommodations or modifications for the citizenship test are provided for applicants with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Applicants are encouraged to list their needs on Form N-400.
  • Lastly, modifications to the Oath of Allegiance are allowed under certain circumstances. Applicants can find more information regarding these exceptions, in the USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance.

What happens if you don't pass the Naturalization test?

You will have two opportunities to take both the English and civics tests and to answer all questions related to your naturalization application. If you fail any portion of the citizenship tests during your first citizenship interview, you will be retested on the specific section(s) you failed (English or civics) between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview.

Please note that recent policy changes may offer some naturalization applicants the option to take either the 2008 or 2020 version of the civics test during their re-examination. For more information, visit the page dedicated to the 2020 version of the civics test.

Bottom line

Navigating the naturalization test and citizenship interview process is an important step towards realizing your goal of becoming a U.S. citizen. By understanding the requirements and preparing diligently, you are one step closer to citizenship.

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