The USCIS Interview and the Naturalization Test
The USCIS naturalization interview is usually quick (no longer than 30 minutes) but extremely important. During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask the applicant questions about their application form and background. The officer will also administer a citizenship test, which requires the applicant to read and write a sentence in English and correctly answer ten questions out of 100 possible questions about U.S. history or civics. Please keep in mind that the interview itself will be conducted in English, so it will be necessary for the applicant to understand and respond to the questions on the form in English.
USCIS has study materials for the citizenship test available for free on their website. These materials include lists of all the vocabulary words, civics questions, and history questions that might come up during the test, as well as model answers.
In most cases, an applicant must proficiently complete the interview and the tests in English to pass. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: (1) applicants who are 50 or older and have lived in the U.S. as a permanent residents for 20 years and (2) applicants who are 55 or older and have lived in the U.S. as permanent residents for 15 years are allowed to use interpreters for their interview and to take the test in their native language.
At the end of the interview, USCIS informs applicants of their test results. Applicants who pass will later receive written notice that they have been approved for naturalization. Applicants who fail the test or need to submit additional documents will have their applications continued (and, if necessary, be given the opportunity to retake the test). Some applicants may receive a request for more evidence before USCIS can make a decision. If an applicant is deemed ineligible for naturalization, they will be notified that their application has been denied.
Those who are denied may request a hearing to appeal USCIS’s decision. Those who are granted citizenship will be notified by mail of a date, time, and location for their naturalization ceremony. After the onset of COVID-19, some District Offices like San Francisco began to offer the oath ceremony on the same day after the interview.
The Oath of Allegiance
The final step in the naturalization process is the Oath of Allegiance, a spoken pledge all successful applicants must make aloud at an Oath Ceremony to officially become U.S. citizens.
The naturalization ceremonies have typically been a day of celebration with hundreds of fellow candidates. Family members and friends often join in the celebration. American flags are distributed to new citizens, and smiles are ubiquitous. With COVID-19 and the inability to gather safely in large crowds, most District Offices instead continue to hold much smaller ceremonies