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Going through the naturalization process to obtain US citizenship requires you to meet the general eligibility requirements as well as to pass two types of tests. One citizenship test covers the US government system and some general American history. The other naturalization test involves the citizenship applicant’s command of the English language. This includes speaking as well as reading and writing. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that there would be revisions based on adult education assessments best practices to improve the naturalization tests. The agency has decided that the tests should be revised every decade.
The citizenship exam on American history and government consists of 100 test questions that USCIS releases to the public along with their answers. Passing it is a simple matter of memorizing the practice test. In the naturalization interview, the USCIS official will ask ten of those practice questions. Those applying for citizenship need to get at least six out of ten right to pass. There are some questions with answers that regularly change. These involve naming the current US Senators, Representatives, Governors, and Speaker of the House. This information can be found online.
Applicants who have a hard time studying the test questions and answers because of their advanced age may take advantage of the 65/20 exception. There’s an easier version of the civics test that those 65 and older may take if they have held legal permanent resident status in the United States for 20 years. The question pool will go down from a hundred to just 20, so their practice tests are simpler and shorter. The applicant still has to answer at least six questions correctly to pass. An interpreter may be brought in for immigrants who prefer to take the US citizenship test in a non-English language.
Form N-648 Waiver
Foreign nationals with a disability that inhibits them from studying the test material for their citizenship application may get a waiver. They would have to submit Form N-648 along with documents from their doctor attesting to their condition and its impact on the ability to prepare and take the test.
The USCIS officer at the citizenship interview will speak English and expect to be understood. Besides observing language proficiency from the conversation, the officer will also assess the ability to read a passage in English and write a sentence upon dictation. There are materials that can help applicants prepare for the reading test and the writing test on the USCIS website.
50/20 or 55/15 Waiver
As with the civics exam, there are also exceptions from the English exam. If the applicant is at least 50 years old and has been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years, the test may be conducted in his or her native language. For applicants 55 years old or older who have held green cards for 15 years, the test may also be conducted in their native tongue. Using either of these waivers, however, requires applicants to bring their own interpreter to the USCIS office for their interview.
As with the civics exam, applicants who have a disability that prevents them from learning English may submit Form N-648 with a doctor’s communication that their condition affects their ability to pass the English test. This usually involves deafness or developmental delay. If the waiver is approved, the interview will be done in the applicant’s native language.
Do You Want to Apply for Citizenship? Contact a North Carolina Immigration Lawyer Today!
If you’re a green card holder who’s ready to go beyond permanent residence and into American citizenship, you have to file your application for naturalization to elevate your immigration status. In order to apply for naturalization and become an American citizen with as little trouble as possible, it’s best to engage the services of an immigration attorney even before applying to help you begin and navigate through the citizenship process.
If all goes well, you’ll be attending your oath ceremony to take your oath of allegiance as a naturalized citizen of the United States and receive your certificate of naturalization. Take note that while renunciation of your original nationality is included in the oath, you may actually be eligible for dual citizenship, depending on the law of the land where you come from. If both countries involved allow dual nationality, then this could be an option for you.
For matters involving immigration and naturalization, it serves you well to hire the legal services of an attorney specializing in US immigration law. Call us at Diener Law to speak with an experienced immigration attorney about your immigration and citizenship concerns.