Persons applying to become a US citizenship through the process of naturalization face, in most cases, a long and often difficult road in trying to achieve their US immigration goals. From filling out the complicated Form N-400 naturalization application to preparing for the required English and civics exams, naturalization presents a daunting prospect for many people. One of the aspects of the naturalization process that causes particular concern for many persons trying to obtain US citizenship is the naturalization interview with a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. Much of the consternation this immigration interview process causes is due, it seems, to a lack of information about what will take place at the naturalization interview and leading up to it – not knowing what to expect at one's naturalization interview can lead a person to be nervous and in some cases even scared, something that can come through at the naturalization interview. This is not what you want to happen; seeming overly nervous or scared at your naturalization interview could raise red flags in the eyes of USCIS. This article aims to demystify the naturalization interview process by providing naturalization applicants information about the interview. To learn more about the naturalization interview or for help with any naturalization or citizenship issue, please contact a Dallas immigration lawyer with the law firm Heartland Immigration. A citizenship attorney with our law firm can assist you in your citizenship matter no matter where you reside. Call Heartland Immigration for a free immigration consultation :
The Naturalization Interview Process in Four Steps
1. Receive a notice from USCIS telling you when and where to show up for your naturalization interview. USCIS will mail to you, after reviewing your Form N-400 naturalization application, a letter informing you when and where your naturalization interview will be held. They will only send one letter – you will not get a second notice or any kind of reminder, so it is critical that you keep the letter and record the date, time and address someplace safe. It is also very important that you keep USCIS updated on your address. Your naturalization application could be denied if you move and USCIS cannot get in contact with you because they are trying to find you at your prior address. If you absolutely cannot attend the naturalization interview on the date USCIS sets for you, you should contact the USCIS office at which the interview is to be held immediately to see about re-scheduling. USCIS will often accommodate and re-schedule a person's naturalization interview, but it might not be able to fit the person in for a while; re-scheduling can push things back several months in some cases.
2. Show up for your naturalization interview, bringing with you your identification and other documents, as requested by USCIS.USCIS recommends that persons show up at the designated USCIS field office 30 minutes before the time for which their naturalization interview is scheduled. The applicant for US citizenship through naturalization should bring with them to their naturalization interview: (i) their green card; (ii) an identification card issued by their state of residence, if they have one, such as a driver's license; (iii) their passport, even if it is expired, plus any prior passports if they have US visas or entry stamps in them; (iv) if applicable, any returning resident permits or other US immigration documents; and (v) two passport-style, color photos. Sometimes USCIS will also request that a naturalization applicant bring with them to their naturalization interview additional documents not listed above. This is usually because something in the naturalization applicant's citizenship application, or something that came up in a background check or otherwise in the course of processing the naturalization application, raised immigration-related issues that USCIS wants to resolve. Where this is the case, USCIS will ask for the documents in the letter the applicant for naturalization receives telling them when and where to come for their naturalization interview. It is very important to bring whatever USCIS asks for to the naturalization interview. Failure to do so can result in the processing of your naturalization application being delayed or, in some cases, outright denied.
Note that not showing up for one's scheduled naturalization interview is a big mistake. It can lead to the naturalization application being denied by USCIS. If you do not show for your naturalization interview USCIS will administratively close your case – failure to contact USCIS within one year and request that it be re-opened will result in a denial of your naturalization application.
3. Have your naturalization interview – answer questions about your qualifications for naturalization and take the civics and English tests. When the naturalization interview starts the USCIS officer will review your identification and other documents you brought with you and then begin asking you questions after placing you under oath. The USCIS immigration officer will ask questions about: (i) your Form N-400 naturalization application and about your background generally; (ii) your residency in the US as a green card holder, specifically about your length of residence in the US and time spent as a green card holder outside the United States; (iii) your attachment to the Constitution (do you support the Constitution and its ideals and will you defend it?); (iv) whether you are willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States; and (v) your character. The last one, regarding a naturalization applicant's character, has the most potential to cause problems. This is where the USCIS immigration officer will ask you about past problems with the law and other things they have come across that go to the issue of whether you can satisfy the "good moral character" requirement for naturalization. Persons who believe this may be an issue are strongly advised to consult a citizenship lawyer for immigration advice before applying for naturalization or at least before their naturalization interview. The USCIS officer will try to gauge whether you are statutorily barred from naturalization due to acts that prohibit a naturalization applicant from being able to demonstrate good moral character, and to see if you are honest. Honesty is, of course, the best policy – you should be forthcoming and completely honest at your naturalization interview and in all dealings with US immigration authorities.
The next part of the naturalization interview is the English and civics test. The USCIS officer will ask you to read one of three sentences, in English, in a way that convinces the USCIS officer that you understand what you are reading. A naturalization applicant must also write one of three possible sentences out in English, again in a way that suggests comprehension. The USCIS officer will be considering throughout the whole interview whether you can sufficiently understand and reply orally to their questions – the interview takes place in English. Next a naturalization applicant must answer orally civics questions that test their understanding of US history and government. To pass the civics test at the naturalization interview, the naturalization applicant must get at least 6 of the civics test questions correct. Study materials for both the English and civics test are available online from USCIS, and a citizenship lawyer can further help you prepare for the tests and the naturalization interview generally.
4. Receive a decision on your naturalization application. Usually a naturalization applicant gets the decision on their citizenship application at the end of their naturalization interview. Where they fail one of the tests or USCIS wants to see additional documents or do so more investigating, the case will be continued; USCIS may ask you to come back for a second interview or to submit additional documents or evidence. Usually where a person fails one or both of the tests at their naturalization interview USCIS will let them come back and try again within 3 months. Failure to pass both tests on the second try will result in a denial of the naturalization application. If your citizenship application is denied by USCIS, you can request a review hearing with a different USCIS officer than the one who interviewed you. If that officer does not grant your naturalization application, you can appeal to a federal court. We recommend contacting a citizenship lawyer for immigration guidance if USCIS denies your naturalization application.
A citizenship attorney at the law firm Heartland Immigration will be glad to speak with you about your naturalization situation or to help with any US immigration law matter. For an immigration lawyer free consultation please call Heartland Immigration today: