Advice on how to prepare and pass the US Citizenship Interview
Once you have jumped through all the hoops, waited for years, and studied for the test, applying for US citizenship can be an extremely exciting step to take. You are about to become a citizen of the country you have adopted as your home for the last few years! The naturalization interview is a quick, twenty-minute process in most cases. However, there are still some steps you can take to better prepare yourself and make sure the entire experience goes smoothly.
- gather and organize your documents
- study for the civics exam
- take an English class if needed
- bring evidence of all of your travel since obtaining a green card
- review your application before the interview
- be late!
- bring your children
- dress casually
- lie or try to hide facts
Do gather and organize your documents
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send you a list of suggested documents with your appointment notice. Make sure to gather as many of the documents as you can (unless they are inapplicable) and keep them organized so that you can easily find them if asked for them. Bring a copy and the original of each new document, and all original versions of the copies you mailed with your original documents.
Do study for the civics exam
You will be asked ten questions, and need to get six correct to pass the test. There are many study guides available for free, including on the USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) and through a partnership they have forged with the Smithsonian (http://americanhistory.si.edu/citizenship/).
Do take an English class if needed
Unless you qualify for a limited exception, the entire interview will be conducted in English. In addition, you will be asked to read and write a sentence in English. If you feel that your English could use some improvement, at least to write or read, search for free classes in your area. Many organizations offer free group classes and workshops for people applying for US Citizenship.
Do bring evidence of all of your travel since obtaining a green card
The time you have been physically present in the United States matters for your citizenship application, and USCIS might compare the answers in your applications to their databases. If you can provide evidence of your travel, you can avoid a potential delay of days or even months while the officer looks up the information on their own.
Do review your application before the interview
The officer will go over the application with you at the beginning of the interview. It’s very important that all information is accurate on the day of the interview and when you will countersign it. If you note changes ahead of time (such as new address, children, update in marital status e.g.), it will speed up the interview, make it run more smoothly, and you will avoid forgetting to update important information.
Do not be late!
Different USCIS offices have different rules, but almost all are on very tight schedules. If you miss your interview time, you risk having to wait several hours at best, or being rescheduled to a later date.
Do not bring your children
You want to be fully focused on the interview, not distracted by children who may grow restless, or need something. If your attention is split, the interviewer may become frustrated, or you may answer some questions wrong.
Do not dress casually
The adjudication officers appreciate when applicants dress respectfully. It shows deference to the process and to themselves.
Do not lie or try to hide facts
If there is some fact you are worried about in your history, such as excessive travel or a criminal conviction, consult an experienced attorney before filing for citizenship or at least before attending the interview. Whatever you do, do not lie or try to hide a fact. If USCIS finds out, they will charge you with fraud and could try to take away your green card.
Do not stress!
The naturalization interview is one of the easiest interviews you will attend for immigration purposes – and it is an exciting one, you are about to become a US Citizen! Enjoy the entire process.
With a few easy pointers in mind and a handful of expert advice, your citizenship interview can go very quickly and smoothly. Remember not to worry too much, and enjoy the entire experience. Good luck and congratulations!