All the subtleties of naturalization: how to prepare for the test and interview for US citizenship
The Naturalization Interview is the last hurdle for permanent residents who filed an N-400 form to become US citizens. Near the end of the N-400 processing, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send you a meeting notification for a naturalization interview. If everything goes well, then by the end of the meeting, you will usually know whether USCIS will grant you US citizenship or not, writes Citizen path.
A USCIS employee will conduct your naturalization interview in your office. To begin with, the officer will ask you to raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth during the interview.
Overview of your N-400 Form
A significant part of the naturalization interview takes into account your N-400 Form, Application for Naturalization. A USCIS employee will ask you some questions about your application and supporting documentation. In addition to confirming the information, a specialist will test your ability to understand and respond in English.
Therefore, allow enough time to study your own N-400 application before you go for an interview. Indeed, several months have probably passed since you applied, so it’s easy to forget some details. Read your answers again to feel confident and comfortable during the interview. Also, be sure to enter events that could in fact change your answers in the form of N-400.
Changes since submission of form N-400
At the beginning of your naturalization interview, a USCIS employee will ask if there are any changes to your N-400 application. Be prepared to answer this question.
In most cases, simple changes to your N-400 are not a problem. The usual change of life circumstances may affect your answers. Say, a new job, a newborn child or a vacation abroad are typical life events. You will need to review the application with a USCIS employee and provide relevant documents confirming this or that fact. For example, if you traveled outside the United States, provide a list of exact dates and other information that N-400 asks for travel.
It is important to understand how these changes may or may not affect compliance. If you think these changes could affect your right to become a U.S. citizen, contact an immigration attorney before going for a naturalization interview. For example, make sure that traveling abroad did not violate the requirements of permanent residence or physical presence.
Circumstances that may affect your right to naturalize include (but are not limited to)
- A recent divorce or residence separately when you apply for a three-year marriage with this US citizen.
- Arrest or what causes you to change your No answer to any of the questions in the 12 Part of the N-400 Form.
- Departure from the United States for six months or more.
What to bring with you to a naturalization interview
After completing the N-400 form, save the case containing a copy of your application, the originals of all supporting documentation and notifications received from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Such advance preparation will help you stay organized and prepared for an interview (bring this case with you).
Here is the list of documents that you must take for the naturalization exam and interview:
- Interview Notification
- Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card)
- Driving License or Other Government Identification Card
- All current and expired passports, as well as travel documents
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Other documents may be required depending on your individual case (take their originals, unless otherwise indicated). Depending on your answers in N-400, you may need the following documents:
1. About marital status
Provide evidence of your current marital status. For example, a marriage certificate, a decision to divorce or annul it, a certificate of death of the spouse (in case one of them died).
2. About divorcing previous marriages
If you are currently married, you must prove that all your previous marriages (if applicable) and the previous marriages of your current spouse are divorced. In this case, divorce decisions or death certificates must be provided.
3. If one of the spouses is a US citizen
If you submitted the N-400 form on the basis of a marriage with a US citizen, you need to prove that your spouse (s) have been US citizens for at least three years and that you or your spouse (s) have been married for at least three years. In addition to the marriage certificate, take other documents: tax returns, lease agreements, bank statements, utility bills, car rights, insurance reports. Any other documents for a three-year period that may confirm your family union are possible.
4. Tax return
Provide confirmation that you have fulfilled your obligation to file a tax return for at least the past five years (three years if you are applying for marriage with a US citizen). Take a copy of your completed IRS tax return or tax statement stating the required information for the required years. You can get a free IRS tax certificate on the IRS website.
Documents must also be submitted confirming that the children indicated in your application for naturalization are yours.
6. Dependent Support
If you have dependent children living separately from you, document that you support each dependent child and have fulfilled child support obligations. If you fail to prove this, you may expect a denial of naturalization due to non-compliance with moral requirements.
7. Traveling Outside the United States
If you have traveled (s) outside the United States for more than six months but less than one year, provide proof that you have resided in the United States. This may be evidence that you did not quit the United States, did not get a job abroad, your family stayed in the United States and / or retained full access to your place of residence in the United States (do not rent your own housing).
8. Arrests / Detention
If you have ever been arrested, detained or convicted, you must provide the relevant documents for each incident. We strongly recommend that you contact your immigration lawyer to properly resolve this issue before you go for an interview.
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Note that you should not offer any of the information listed above yourself until you ask a USCIS employee. Often, he is not even interested in some of these documents.
During a naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will test your ability to read, write, and speak English. The officer will check your English as follows:
Your ability to speak English by answering questions.
You should read one sentence out of three so that the USCIS officer understands that you understand the meaning of this sentence.
You have to write one sentence out of three in such a way that a USCIS employee can read it.
Remember that your conversational skills begin to be evaluated from the moment you meet with a USCIS employee. He will observe your ability to follow simple instructions (for example, "Please keep standing" at a time when they usually offer to sit down) and at the same time you have to answer questions.
If the question seems incomprehensible, you can ask the officer to rephrase it.
A USCIS employee will also dictate the offer and ask you to write it in English.
The officer will give you a test of US history / civil law in English (to test your knowledge and understanding of US history).
There are 100 possible questions. At a naturalization interview, the officer will ask up to 10 questions from a list in English. You must correctly answer at least six of the 10 questions to pass the US citizenship test.
Otherwise, if you cannot correctly answer six out of ten questions, the naturalization interview will end. USCIS will reschedule the appointment to retake the test on another day (over the next 90 days).
By the end of the naturalization interview, you will probably find out whether you are going to the oath ceremony or not. If everything goes well during the interview, the USCIS employee will most likely tell you that he approves the application. He can even give you a piece of paper with information about your oath ceremony.
In some cases, a USCIS employee cannot make a decision immediately after a naturalization interview. Perhaps he will need the help of a supervisor or additional evidence that you did not provide at the interview.
In the event that USCIS rejects your application, you will be given the reasons for the refusal. Then you can file an appeal or a new statement. When you send N-400 again, take the time to understand the reason for the refusal in order to avoid it this time.
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