Many immigrants dream of becoming United States citizens. Only lawful permanent residents who meet certain requirements can apply for naturalization. The naturalization process includes an in-person interview with a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer and a two-part citizenship exam. This test will evaluate the applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government as well as their English language competency.
Having to take any sort of test can be intimidating, especially with so much at stake. The citizenship exam is not meant to be difficult, and many preparation resources are available. Below, we break down each specific component of the test.
The English Language Exam
One portion of the test will assess your ability to speak, read, and write in the English language. Fluency is not required, as you will need to only demonstrate basic proficiency.
The entirety of the exam and in-person interview will be conducted in English. You will pass the speaking component if you can follow test instructions and answer the USCIS officer’s questions about your application.
The reading component will require you to verbalize a sentence written in English. The USCIS officer will present you with three sentences, and you must successfully speak at least one of them aloud.
The writing portion requires you to transcribe a sentence spoken in English. The USCIS officer will speak three sentences aloud, and you will need to successfully write at least one of them down.
Your written and spoken answers do not need to be flawless. The provided sentences will also not be overly complex, and USCIS offers a list of vocabulary words that will be included in the writing and reading tests.
The Civics Exam
The other portion of the test will evaluate whether you have a basic understanding of United States history and government. You do not need to have encyclopedic knowledge.
You will be provided with ten questions from a possible pool of 100 questions. You must correctly answer at least six of the ten questions you are given. All 100 possible questions are available for study on the USCIS website.
Sample questions include:
- How many U.S. Senators are there? (100)
- We elect a President for how many years? (Four)
- Who is the “Father of Our Country?” (George Washington)
- Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II? (Franklin Roosevelt)
- Name your U.S. Representative. (Answers will vary)
Can I Be Exempted from Any Portion of the U.S. Citizenship Test?
Most people will need to pass all portions of the naturalization exam, as no blanket exemptions are offered. In some limited circumstances, partial exemptions and accommodations may be available.
If you have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years and are at least 50 years old, you do not need to take the English language component of the exam. You are also exempt from the English language portion If you have lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years and are at least 55 years old.
If you are at least 65 years old and have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you do not need to study all 100 possible questions on the citizenship exam. You will still have to correctly answer six of ten provided questions, but they will come from a pool of only 20 possible questions.
If you have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months, you can request an exemption from any portion of the citizenship test when you submit your initial naturalization application. You can also request accommodations if you are hard of hearing, deaf, blind, have poor vision, or have any other condition that may limit your ability to take the test or travel to your local USCIS field office.
What Happens If I Do Not Pass the U.S. Citizenship Exam?
If you pass all components of the naturalization exam and the in-person interview goes well, the USCIS officer should clear your application. If you do not initially pass any portion of the test, there is no need to panic. You will have one additional opportunity to retake the part of the test that you did not pass. You will also not have to retake any portion of the exam that you did pass. For example, if you passed all portions of the English language test but did not pass the civics test, you only need to retake the civics component.
You also will not have to retake the test immediately, giving you more time to study. In most cases, a reexamination will be scheduled within 90 days.
Our experienced immigration attorneys at Hubbs Law, P.A. can guide you through each stage of the naturalization process. We are committed to helping immigrants become U.S. citizens and can help you prepare for each part of the naturalization exam.
Contact us online or call (305) 376-7178 to schedule an initial consultation with our team. We will assess your naturalization eligibility and provide a comprehensive legal opinion.