How to prepare for U.S Citizenship?
The naturalization process is the process by which a permanent resident becomes a Citizen. The applicants need to go through several processes. The first step is to start with the application. The application can be filed online or offline through the mail. After the submission of the application and submission of fees, the applicant needs to take the U.S Citizenship test and Interview.
The applicants always think about the U.S Citizenship test and interview as a hurdle and often get nervous about cracking the same. The test is not a difficult task if the applicant is familiar with the pattern of the exam and interview. With proper planning and preparation, the exam can be cracked easily.
U.S Citizenship process
The U.S Citizenship process starts as soon as a person submits the N400 forms. The process by which a legal immigrant acquires citizenship status is known as naturalization. The process is regulated and controlled by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). An individual can apply for US citizenship either online or offline through the mail.
In order to be a US citizen, the applicant must pass certain requirements. That is, the applicant must be eligible. In order to be eligible for US Citizenship, the applicant:
- must have a valid permanent resident card (green card)
- should be of 18 years of age or above
- must have lived in the United States for at least five years.
- must be capable of reading and writing basic English
- must be morally upright and
- Must take the oath of allegiance
In order to apply for citizenship, all these criteria must be met. The applicant must demonstrate his or her reading, writing and speaking skills. Moreover, they need to have a basic knowledge and understanding of U.S History and governance. The U.S Citizenship test is conducted to evaluate these requirements.
The U.S Citizenship Test and Interview
Applicants who file the N-400 naturalization form to become naturalized US citizens must take the US naturalization test. The applicants need to take the test mandatorily and it consists of two parts.
- English test
- Civics Test
Both these tests will determine whether or not the applicant has the basic understanding and knowledge of the English language and US History & Governance. Most of the applicants must take both tests unless otherwise stated that they are exempted from taking them.
- English Test – The English test consists of 3 sections – Reading, Writing and Speaking. This test is carried out to assess the reading, writing and speaking skills of the applicant. The reading skills and writing skills are tested with the help of a tablet. The instructions on how to use the tablet and necessary details as to the same will be demonstrated by the immigration officer. Through the English language test, basic grammar and vocabulary are checked. The U.S Citizenship test is not something to be intimidated by as the immigration officer expects some mistakes on the part of the applicant. With proper preparation and practice, one will be able to crack the exam easily.
Reading Test – A reading test is carried out with the help of a tablet. A sentence will appear on the tablet and the applicant is supposed to read out the sentence. While reading the passage, it is best to avoid any unnecessary long pauses. However, it is okay if the applicant has mispronounced or skipped some words.
Writing Test – For the writing test, the immigration officer will read out sentences for the applicant. The applicant needs to write one out of three sentences read out to him or her. It is okay to misspell some words or make wrong punctuation. However, it is to be noted that the whole sentence should be written legibly and there should not be any use of abbreviations.
Speaking test – The ability of the applicant to speak basic English is tested during the speaking test. The immigration officer will ask questions to the applicant which the applicant needs to answer. The questions will relate to the citizenship application and eligibility.
- Civics Test – The civics test is administered to check the knowledge of the applicant in relation to U.S history and government. The immigration will select questions and the applicant needs to answer at least 6 out of 10 questions correctly. Most of the questions are related to American Government and the rest deal with history. The complexity of the question depends on the age, background, educational background, and so on of the applicant. This is an oral test and is taken by all applicants without any exception like in the case of the English test.
2. U.S Citizenship Interview – The interview is another very important aspect of the U.S Citizenship application. This is to determine whether a person is eligible to become a U.S Citizen or not.
For the interview, the immigration officer may ask questions. These questions need to be answered by the applicant. The questions are usually based on the application. Some may be related to the document or evidence the applicant had submitted. Others may be standard trivia questions or related to the U.S Citizenship test and interview.
The applicants attending the interview have the right to have an attorney represent them during the interview. An attorney is able to help the applicant by communicating with the USCIS officer if the applicant is confused about questions put forward by the officer regarding the application or document-related questions.
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Things to carry with you on your U.S Citizenship Test and Interview
- Permanent Residence Card (Green Card)
- Interview Appointment Notice
- State-given identification or Driver’s License
- Travel-related documents or passports since coming to the U.S
- Tax returns
- Other documents were submitted as evidence for filing the application.
How to prepare for the U.S Citizenship and Interview?
Studying smartly is the key to getting ahead and cracking the test. The applicant must thoroughly understand the nature and process of the U.S Citizenship test and make a smart plan that actually works. An easy way to do this is to make a study plan and stick to it. Here are a few tips that will actually help the candidate in cracking the test
- Develop a Smart plan – Start planning to implement a step-by-step view of the test preparation. This will help the applicant to have a bird’s-eye view of where he or she is standing.
- Practice English – Learning English as a non-native speaker is the most difficult task. The key is to practice and be consistent with it. Reading easy and comprehensive materials or books will help in building basic knowledge. Using English while speaking daily and consciously practising the same will also benefit the applicant.
- Be Consistent – One must be consistent with their study. Proper studying, review and revising is the key to cracking any exam. Allotting a specific time daily for studying will undoubtedly help the applicant in cracking the test.
- Engaging and Interactive Study tools – Engage interactive study tools to make the learning process more fun. This can be carried out by way of games, quizzes, flashcards and more.
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- Practice Civics – Learning and practising Civics is important. Studying civics and history with the help of comprehensive study materials and guides is recommended.
- Make effective notes – The applicant is required to take effective and easy notes to revise and review the learning process
- Practice tests and questions – The applicant needs to practice questions and do test series until they gain confidence.
- Clear doubts and ask for clarifications – In case of doubts or clarifications needed, the applicant should communicate and clear those doubts with an expert
Who is exempted from taking the U.S Citizenship Test?
It is not required for everyone to take the test. There are certain exceptions through which the applicants are allowed not to take the test. Here are four exceptions to the mandatory taking of the test.
- If the applicant is 50+ years of age with 20+ years of permanent residence in the US, then he/she need not take the English test but only the Civics test. The Civics test can be taken in the first language of choice with an interpreter
- If the applicant is 55+ years of age with 15+ years of permanent residence in the US, then he/she need not take the English test but only the Civics test. The Civics test can be taken in the first language of choice with an interpreter
- If the applicant is 65+ years of age with 20+ years of permanent residence, then he/she is exempted from taking the English test. In the case of the Civics test, they can take the test in their first language with an interpreter. The questions will come from only 20 possible questions
- In the case of applicants with disabilities or impairments, they are exempted from taking both tests.
There are forms which are available to certify the medical disability. Moreover, the N-400 form contains space in which the applicant can request accommodation for disabilities
Requesting Accommodations for US Citizenship Test.
In case of any disability, the USCIS will allow the applicant to request accommodations. This includes bringing an interpreter or a member of the family and allowing a more accessible testing center like the applicant’s home or senior citizens center. The USCIS may also provide the applicant to avail of extra time for completing the exam.
In case of any accommodations are required, the applicant is asked to notify the USCIS before the exam date for the accommodation required.
What’s next after the exam?
After the applicant appears for the U.S citizenship exam, the applicant will be getting the results of the test and interview that day itself. The USCIS will inform the applicant about the results and the applicant may pass or fail the exam.
- If the applicant passes the exam, he or she is almost done with the citizenship application process. Now, as the test is completed successfully he just has to take the oath of allegiance
- If the applicant does not pass the exam then he will have to take the whole exam again or just the portion he did not pass. One thing that is to be noted is that the applicant will be asked a different set of questions from those on the first. The retest will take place within 60 to 90 days from the date of the first examination and USCIS will schedule and notify the details of the re-examination to the applicant.
- If the applicant does not pass the re-examination, the application will be denied by the USCIS. Within 30 days of such denial, the applicant needs to appeal for the decision of denial taken by the USCIS. It is during the hearing that the applicant is retested on the section of the exam that he failed on the second attempt.
Importance of U.S Citizenship test and interview
The US Citizenship test is carried out to ensure that the citizens are well equipped with knowledge of US history and government. Moreover, it also ensures that the citizens of the United States have a basic understanding of the English language. The test has two purposes. One is to uphold the value of democracy. A citizen must be aware of the fundamental value of the state and adhere to it. The second purpose is to make the citizen find work and livelihood in the nation with a comparable education level to that of an American citizen.
The Citizenship test makes the immigrants aware of the US history, culture and values and ignites a wave of sentiment towards the country in them. This is essential for the well-being of the state and the smooth functioning of the democratic systems.
What can be done with U.S Citizenship?
- Vote in a federal election – U.S Citizens have a number of benefits with Citizenship. One of them is to vote in the federal, state and local elections. This right is exclusively available to the citizens
- Apply for U.S Passport and Travel Abroad – The U.S passport is inarguably one of the most prestigious passports around the world. With a U.S passport, one can visit more than 180 countries without a visa. Furthermore, a citizen will be allowed to enter ad exit US without any restrictions.
- Sponsor family members for a green card – With citizenship sponsoring your family members will get even easier.
- Applying for citizenship is less expensive than renewing the green card – A green card holder is required to renew it after 10 years. The constant renewal is more expensive than getting your citizenship after 5 years of holding the green card.
- Financial aid from the government- The government provides financial aid exclusively available to the citizens. This can be availed by the citizens. Furthermore, a citizen is entitled to scholarships, grants and other benefits of the government exclusively given to them.
- A citizen can travel outside the country for longer periods of time – A citizen is entitled to the right to travel outside the country for longer periods of time.
- Work in a Government office – A citizen is also entitled to avail of the benefit of working with government organisations as the position is only exclusively available to US Citizens only.
U.S citizenship comes with a number of benefits and advantages that only the citizens of the U.S can enjoy exclusively. In order to get the benefits of U.S Citizenship, one must apply for it and go through the process of U.S Citizenship and Interview. Although it is an intimidating step, with proper planning and execution, the approval of the application is guaranteed. The applicant needs to be familiar with the pattern of the exam and also practice the questions on a regular basis. For this, the applicant needs to gather relevant materials that work and start preparing as soon as they decide to apply for citizenship. The U.S Citizenship exam is not a difficult task. The applicant just needs to be well-prepared and confident about the exam.
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