How to prepare for the interview
The interview consists of several parts: a review of your application and the reading, writing, and civics tests. The whole process lasts about an hour and takes place in a room with you and a USCIS officer.
To prepare, you can take practice tests online. Be sure to familiarize yourself with all 100 questions and answers listed on the USCIS website. These will be the same questions asked during the test. If you prefer to learn in a group setting, many communities offer free citizenship classes and English conversation groups as well.
What to expect on the day of the interview
Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes early. When you arrive, you will need to show your appointment notice and ID to the building's security officer. Let them know you are here for a naturalization interview. They will direct you to a waiting room where you will check in with an immigration officer at the front desk. Once you are checked in, you can wait until your name is called. An immigration officer will take you to their desk and ask you to stand, raise your right hand and swear that you will tell the truth. Then they will begin the interview.Application review
The USCIS officer will start by reviewing your application with you. You'll be asked questions about your application to make sure your answers match what you wrote on Form N-400. They'll also review the supporting documents that you included with your application. If you forgot to submit a required document with your application, bring it to the interview.
This process takes about 20 minutes. If are unsure about a question the officer asks you, ask them to repeat or rephrase the question. Let the officer know of any changes that may have occurred (if you have a new address, if you've been married or divorced) since you sent the application.
The officer will ask you about:
- Your background. Where were you born? What are the names of your family members?
- Your place of residence. Where you live and how long you have lived there? Have you taken any trips outside of the United States?
- Your moral character. Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? Do you have a steady employment history? Have you recently divorced?
- Allegiance to the United States. Will you promise to uphold the values of the US constitution?
You should review a copy of your completed Form N-400 in the days leading up to the interview. While you should be able to answer simple questions about yourself and your family, it might be harder to remember specific travel dates. Reviewing this information will help you confidently finish your interview. They may also ask you to elaborate on information you included in your application.
When you've finished answering these questions, the officer will ask you to sign your application and the two photos you submitted. The first part of the interview is done, and you'll move on to the tests.
The English test
The English test has 2 parts: a writing test and a reading test. It will take about 20 minutes to complete both. Applicants over the age of 50 may be exempt from this part of the interview.Writing test
The officer will read you a sentence in English, and you will write down what they said onto a piece of paper. The officer will check to make sure you can differentiate the words they are saying and that you are able to spell basic English words. Ask the officer to repeat the sentence if you need to hear it again. You will get 3 tries to do this correctly.Reading test
The officer will give you a piece of paper with 3 sentences. You will need to correctly read at least 1 of them out loud to the officer.
The civics test
The officer will ask you 10 questions about US civics. USCIS will randomly choose these 10 questions from a list of 100. You don't need to answer all 100 at the interview, but you should study all of them since you won't know which 10 questions they will ask.
The test is conducted orally, meaning the officer will ask the question out loud in English, and you will answer out loud too. It is not multiple choice. If you are unsure of the answer, take your time, and ask the officer to repeat the question. If you do not know the answer, you can say that you do not know, or guess. To pass the test, you must correctly answer at least 6 out of 10 questions. Once you answer 6 questions correctly, the officer will move on the next part of the interview.
If you qualify to take the test in your native language, you may have an interpreter present at the interview. You can bring your own interpreter, or USCIS will select this person for you. Your interpreter can be a friend or family member, but they must be fluent in both languages.
“Celebrate Citizenship, Celebrate America” by COD Newsroom, College of DuPage
After the interview
Once you've finished the interview, the officer will let you know if you've passed. They will give you Form N-652, which will list the results of your interview and what to expect next.
1 to 4 weeks after the interview, you will get a final decision notice from USCIS, Notice N-445. The notice will state that your application has been:
- Granted: you are eligible for naturalization. Your notice will include the date, time, and location of the naturalization ceremony.
- Continued: you need to provide additional evidence/documentation, failed to provide USCIS the correct documents, or failed the English or civics test the first time.
- Denied: you are not eligible for naturalization at this time. You'll receive info that explains how to appeal the denial if you believe USCIS made a mistake, but in most cases, it's easier to re-apply once you become eligible.
If you fail any part of the tests, you'll have another chance to retake the part you failed 60 to 90 days after the initial interview. USCIS may also request more documents before approving your application.
If your application is approved and you successfully completed the interview, your next step will be the naturalization ceremony. The date and time of this event will be listed on Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. The ceremony may be scheduled the very same day, or it may be several weeks after your interview.
Remember that you are not a US citizen yet. It's important to maintain your eligibility status until you've attended the oath ceremony.