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What is Naturalization?

Naturalization is the legal process which allows the citizen of a foreign country to become a citizen of the United States. In general, a naturalization applicant must have been living in the U.S. for a five year period as a permanent resident and must have maintained good moral character during that time. The applicant must also be sufficient in English and must be aware of the law’s and history of the United States.

What Does One Become Naturalized?

To become a naturalized citizen of the United States, one must be qualified to apply for citizenship, complete an application, attend an interview conducted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and pass a Naturalization Test.
 
It’s important to note that naturalization is different than dual citizenship, where a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time.

What is a Naturalization Test?

The naturalization test is the final step in becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States (before taking the Oath of Allegiance after you pass). It is also known as the “citizenship exam”.

The purpose of the test is to determine whether an applicant meets the English and Civics requirements to become a naturalized citizen. In that regard, there are two basic components covered in the naturalization test:

  • Language test; and
  • Civics test.

What is the English Proficiency Test?

The language component of the exam tests one’s English language proficiency. It tests the applicant’s ability to read, write, speak, and understand English. One’s ability to speak English is determined by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer during the applicant’s interview. For the reading portion, the applicant must read one out of three sentences correctly. For writing, the applicant must write one out of three sentences correctly.

Am I Required to take the English Proficiency Test?

Applicants can be exempt from taking the English proficiency test (but not the civics test) under the following circumstances:

  • You are 50 years or older, have a valid green card, and have lived in the United States for at least 20 years
  • You are 55 years or older, have a valid green card, and have lived in the United States for at least 15 years

What is the Civics Test?

The civics exam tests the applicant’s knowledge of U.S. history and government. During the naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will ask 10 civics questions from a list of 100 questions. In order to pass, the applicant must answer 6 of the 10 questions correctly. The questions are not multiple choice. Some sample questions include:

  • Who is the current U.S. President?
  • What is the name of the current Vice President?
  • What is the political party of the current U.S. President?
  • How many U.S. Senators are there?
  • What are the first 10 Constitutional Amendments called?
  • What branch of government is the President the head of?

What if I Don’t Pass my Naturalization Exam?

All applicants are given two opportunities to pass the naturalization exam. If you fail any of the tests, you can be retested on that portion of the test between 60 and 90 days from the date of your initial interview. If you pass one part of the exam but not the other (for example, pass the English portion but fail the Civics exam), you can take the exam you didn’t pass within the specified time frame.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Naturalization Test?

The naturalization test is a very important part of the citizenship application process. The outcome of the naturalization test can determine whether or not a person is eligible for U.S. citizenship. If you or any of your loved ones need help with the naturalization process, it’s in your best interests to hire a qualified immigration lawyer. Your attorney can help ensure that you get the best chances at obtaining citizenship. If you need to appear before a judge, your lawyer can also represent you during any hearings or court meetings.

Photo of page author Erin Chan Adams

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 01-12-2018 02:41 PM PST

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