4 Things You Need to Know to Pass Your US Naturalization Test

People seem to frequently put off filing Form N-400 and taking the Naturalization Test to become a US citizen. Sometimes they are just procrastinating, thinking they have lots of time. But many people are afraid to take the test thinking that if they fail, it will result in some kind of punishment.  This is not true. Immigrants are allowed to fail the test one time, and will be rescheduled to return for another chance within 60-90 days. Even if you fail a second time, you won’t be punished, your application will just be denied. Even when you are denied there are other steps that you can take to fight that decision. So don’t be nervous, this test is nothing to fear, and small price to pay to become a US citizen.

It is my strong advice that if you failed the Naturalization test a first time, that you consult with the best immigration attorney you can find so that you can be sure to pass the second test. 

What do you need to know to pass your Naturalization test?

  1. Don’t be late, don’t miss the test. Show up at least 30 minutes early for the test. If you are late, and miss the test USICS will close your case. You then have 1 year to re-open your case, or your application will be denied.
  2. Bring all your identification, and any additional information that USICS may have asked for.
  3. Tell the truth. If you have had any arrests or crimes you will want to speak with an attorney, but definitely don’t lie about your past.
  4. Answer all the questions. During the interview you will be asked:
  • about your past,
  • where you live and how long you have lived there,
  • how you feel about the US constitution,  and wether you can take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
  • You may be required to take a basic English usage test, but you may also be exempt from that (see the points below).
  • You will be required to take a 100 question Civics Test (check out the study guide here) with basic questions about the United States.

Don’t worry if your English isn’t perfect! Also the questions are basically what 4th graders study in school. (I am positive about this, as my kids both passed the 4th grade :) and the study guide is very thorough, and comes in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

Four crucial points you need to know before you get your naturalization test

  1. Arrests and Crimes are Serious.    See the best immigration lawyer you can and get some advice on the consequences of criminal activity of citizenship.  Never Do It Yourself if you have had trouble with the law. No matter what.
  2. The “70 Rule”    You do not need to take the test in English but still must take the Civics test once you are:  50 years of age or older when filing for naturalization test with green card  for 20 years OR 55 years of age or older when filing for naturalization test with green card for 15 years.
  3. Immigration will look back at your entire immigration history.  Often people come to see me with a citizenship denial, caused by the discovery of some problem such as an alleged fraud or crime that occurred before the green card was issued.  Just because you may have gotten away with it before receiving your green card does not mean that Immigration will not catch it on the day of the naturalization test.  YET ANOTHER reason to seek out assistance from a superior immigration lawyer.  There may be a solution, very commonly known by an expert.
  4. The “85 Rule”    If you are 65 years of age or older when filing for naturalization test (with green card for 20 years) you are supposed to be given special consideration on the civics questions.

If you have any questions regarding your Naturalization, or any other Immigration Related questions please feel free to contact me at Harlan York & Associates.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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