An applicant seeking to attain citizenship status, among other requirements, pass the citizenship test. You may wish to prepare for this test by finding a class to help you study or practice your English skills. You can enroll in a citizenship preparation class and use other valuable resources throughout New York for no or little cost to help you prepare.

While you work toward mastering the material found on the citizenship test, you may also want to find an immigration attorney to help you navigate the application process from start to finish.

At The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis we have experience in every aspect of U.S. immigration law. Work with our team of experienced attorneys to make your citizenship process as quick and simple as possible.

What is the U.S. Citizenship Test?

During the naturalization process a citizenship test is given to assess the applicants English abilities and their knowledge of United States history and civics. This test is used as part of the process to determine an individuals suitability to become a naturalized United States citizen.

Citizenship exams are broken into two parts, English and civics. Both parts of the test must be passed in order for the application process to continue. Learn a bit more about the two sections below.

English Test

The English section will test the applicant’s English skills in three different forms:

  • Speaking. An official from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will judge your ability to speak and understand English during your eligibility interview.
  • Reading. You will demonstrate your ability to read in English by reading aloud one out of three sentences correctly.
  • Writing. You will be required to correctly write one out of three sentences to demonstrate your ability to write in English.

Civics Test

The civics test is an oral exam used to asses your knowledge of United States as a country. There are 100 possible questions for the test, and you will be asked 10 at random. The topics for these questions cover United States history, government, and the constitution.

You will have two chances to pass the English and civics exams. If you fail either section on your first try you will be allowed to retake it between 60 and 90 days after your initial interview.

Exceptions and Accommodations

It is possible to qualify for exceptions or modifications to the naturalization exam requirements through USCIS rules. These exemptions include:

English Language Exemptions

You will not be required to take the English language test if you meet certain age requirements.

  • 50 years of age or older at the time you filed for naturalization and have lived in the United States for 20 years as a legal permanent resident (a green card holder). You may see this referred to as the “50/20” exception.
  • 55 years of age or older at the time you filed for naturalization and have lived in the United states for 15 years as a legal permanent resident. You may see this referred to as the “55/15” exception.

If you meet the qualifications for either of these exceptions you may skip the English language exam, but you will still be required to take the civics test. You may, however, take the civics test in your native language if you wish to do so.

If you take the civics exam in a language other than English you will be required to bring an interpreter who is fluent in both languages with you to your interview. If you are 65 years of age or older and have been a legal permanent resident for at least 20 years you will be given special consideration for the civics requirement.

Exceptions Due to Medical Disability

You are permitted to request an exception to the English and civics requirements if you are unable to follow them due to a mental impairment, physical disability, or developmental disability. You will need to submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, to request the exception. The form will need to be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist.

Continuous Residence Exceptions

Certain kinds of overseas employment may grant you eligibility for an exception to the continuous residence requirement on a case by case basis.

Accommodations for Disability

USCIS is able to provide accommodations or modifications to the requirements for applicants who have a physical or mental impairment that will make it difficult to complete the naturalization process. You may list your individual needs on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization to begin that process.

Accommodations for the Oath of Allegiance

Applicants must take part in a public ceremony swearing the Oath of Allegiance before receiving their certificates of citizenship. U.S. law does allow modifications for those meeting certain requirements, however.

You may be granted an expedited administration ceremony or administrative naturalization by the Attorney General if you can demonstrate sufficient cause. Circumstances that allow for special accommodation include:

  • Serious illness of the applicant or a member of the applicant’s immediate family
  • Permanent disability sufficiently incapacitating as to prevent the applicant’s personal appearance at the scheduled ceremony
  • Development disability or advanced age
  • Exigent circumstances relating to travel or employment

Should an expedited judicial oath administration ceremony not be possible, you will be referred to the Attorney General who may provide an immediate administrative naturalization.

Find Help in Your Community

Citizenship classes, educational programs, and assistance with the naturalization process are offered by many social service providers and community organizations in New York. These classes are often held on weekends or during evening hours at convenient community locations to accommodate work or school schedules.

Programs such as these may also offer referral services or additional support, or may allow you to meet people who can provide either. The USCIS website has a useful tool allowing you to search by zip code or address to find an English and/or citizenship class offered by USCIS-funded programs. These USCIS-funded programs offer free or low cost services to immigrants.

Consult an Immigration Attorney

To become fully integrated into American society you must learn English. To become a U.S. citizen, you must also demonstrate an understanding of U.S. civics and history. You may wish to seek help developing one or both of these areas prior to your naturalization interview. There are a multitude of organizations that offer preparation classes, referral programs, and other options for immigrants all across New York.

If you are working to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, it may also be in your best interest to consult with an experienced NYC immigration lawyer. Many immigration cases face delays or even denial over simple mistakes, such as filing forms and applications correctly. The citizenship application process can be a stressful time, don’t let small errors make it more so. Contact The Law Office of Jason A. Dennis today.