Legal permanent residents in the United States are given the opportunity to become U.S. citizens. This process is labeled as “naturalization.” In order to start the naturalization process, legal permanent residents must apply by sending in the pertinent forms and supporting evidence. Also, applicants are interviewed by USCIS officers, where they will be tested on the four (4) areas listed below:
- Civics Test
Applicants will be asked up to ten (10) questions by the interviewer, out of a list of 100 civics questions. Applicants must answer correctly at minimum six (6) of the 10 questions to pass this portion.
- English Speaking Test
The USCIS Officer determines the applicant’s ability to speak English throughout the duration of the interview.
- English Reading Test
USCIS requires that applicants be able to read in English. Applicants are required to read aloud to the officer one of three sentences correctly.
- English Writing Test
Applicants are required to write one out of three sentences, read by the officer, to prove that they are able to write in the English language.
Naturalization applicants are also asked questions about their application and their background at the interview. If the applicant fails the first exam, they need not worry! Applicants are given another opportunity at the test between 60 and 90 days after the initial interview. Also, there are a couple of exemptions for the English language portions of the naturalization exam:
If the applicant is over the age of 50 and has lived 20 years in the United States as a legal permanent resident, he/she is exempted from the English language portion.
Also, if the applicant is over the age of 55 and has lived in the United States as a legal permanent resident for 15 years, he/she is exempted from the English language portion.
Please note that applicants are still required to take the civics portion of the exam. However, those who qualify for the exemption are allowed to have a translator present during the interview and are permitted to take the civics portion in the native language. For those who are over the age of 65 and have been permanent residents for at least 20 years, they are given special consideration for the civics exam.