How to Prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Interview Questions

We have written in recent weeks about the record number of applicants for citizenship this year as Americans prepare to elect a new president.  If you are one of the approximately one million people who will become a naturalized American citizen this year, you should do everything you can to easily navigate the naturalization process. This article is intended to familiarize you with the U.S. citizenship interview.  As with any immigration process, naturalization can be complicated.  You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing any immigration documents.
Before Your Interview
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign national after he or she proves eligibility in compliance with U.S. law.  Many people call this process citizenship.  In this article, the two terms are used interchangeably.To apply for citizenship, you must file Form N-400.  The cost for most applicants is $680.  After you file your application, you will receive a receipt notice from the federal government.  This notice will contain a case number that is unique to your application.  You can use this case number to track your application status.  You will also receive a notice requiring you to submit for fingerprinting.  Then, depending on processing times at your local office, eventually you will receive an interview appointment notice.  It is important that you make every effort to attend your interview at the scheduled time.If you absolutely cannot attend your U.S. citizenship interview, you should write to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that scheduled your interview (the address will be listed on your appointment notice) and request a rescheduled date.  Please note, however, that rescheduling your interview may add several months to your citizenship process.  Also, if you move or otherwise change your mailing address, you should be certain to notify USCIS of the new address so that you do not miss your interview.One clear benefit of hiring an immigration attorney in NJ to assist you with your case is that your attorney will receive a copy of the interview notice. 
The Day of the U.S. Citizenship Interview 
You should plan to arrive at your interview at least thirty minutes before the scheduled time.  This will allow time for you to clear security, organize your materials, meet with your attorney, and collect your thoughts before your interview.  Be sure that you bring identification with you.  This should include your legal permanent resident card, your passport, your driver’s license (or other state-issued identification), and any entry documents you have.The immigration officer may wish to see additional documents.  You should check your appointment notice to see what additional items have been requested.  Don’t forget these specific documents.  Failure to present them at your interview could result in denial of your application.Remember, you have the right to have an attorney accompany you to your U.S. citizenship interview.
The Interview:  General U.S. Citizenship Interview Questions
The immigration officer will begin your U.S. citizenship interview by placing you under oath.  This means that you promise to tell the complete truth regarding your application.  Failure to do so could result in denial of your application, criminal prosecution, and removal from the United States.Next, the immigration officer will go through your application section by section, asking you questions from each part.  Make sure you answer each question honestly and completely.  If you discover you have made an error on your application, give the immigration officer the correct information so that your application may be amended.  During this process, the officer may ask to see the original versions of any photocopied evidence you filed in support of your application.  Be sure to have these documents organized and ready to be presented.In addition to the general questions from your application, the officer may ask you additional eligibility questions.  Specifically, the officer may inquire about your willingness to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.  Answer these questions fully and truthfully. The Interview:  Civics and English Test The most intimidating part of the U.S. citizenship interview for most applicants is the test.  While some applicants are exempt from the test portion of the interview, most must successfully pass a civics and English language test. Civics The civics test will gauge your understanding of American government and U.S. history.  The test will be conducted orally in English by the immigration officer.  There are 100 possible test questions.  The officer will ask you ten.  You must answer six correctly to pass the test.  All of these test questions are available online.  You should study the questions and know the answers to all of them prior to your interview. English Your English proficiency will be tested in the following three ways:
  • Reading You must read aloud one sentence out of a list of three sentences. When reading, you must convince the immigration officer that you understand what the sentence means.
  • Writing You must write one sentence out of three given to you by the immigration officer.
  • Speaking You must be able to sufficiently answer the questions from the entire citizenship interview to show that you are proficient in spoken English.
As mentioned, some applicants are exempt from these testing requirements.  To determine whether you are required to take these tests as part of your citizenship process, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. After the U.S. Citizenship Interview After completing the interview, you will receive a decision from the USCIS on your application.  The length of time for final approval of your application will depend on the processing time at your local USCIS office. Once your application is approved, you will be required to attend a swearing-in ceremony.  These events are oftentimes special occasions, and you should make every effort to attend.  You will then be given a certificate of naturalization and will be eligible to apply for a U.S. passport, register to vote, and take advantage of any other benefit of being an American citizen.
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