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How to Prepare for the Citizenship Interview

The citizenship interview is an important step toward becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, but it can also be one of the most stressful ones. That’s because it involves a meeting with a federal agent, not to mention taking and passing an English language comprehension and a Civics test.

The best way to avoid stress is to be well prepared for the interview. Below you will learn how the interview is structured as well as tips and resources to help you prepare for this important meeting.

How the Interview Is Structured

The citizenship interview is given at various offices run by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS. The steps below will give you a general idea of how the interview is structured (the order may change depending on your local office):

  • Take the oath: Before starting the interview, the officer will place you under oath.
  • Review form N-400: The immigration officer will go over the application with you and ask you questions about your past, including which countries you’ve visited, where you live and which organizations you belong to. You will then be asked to sign a few documents.
  • English test: The officer will evaluate your English-speaking skills during the interview and will also test your ability to read and write in English. To pass you must answer correctly one out of three reading and writing questions.
  • Civics test: The civics test has 10 questions about the history and government of the United States. To pass, you must answer six correctly. The officer will stop asking you questions when you have answered six of them correctly.
  • Final instructions: The officer will give you instructions for attending a citizenship ceremony, the final step in the naturalization process. During the ceremony you swear allegiance to the United States.

Note: You have two chances to pass the tests. If you fail during your initial interview, you will be given a second opportunity 60 to 90 days later.

Exceptions for Taking the English Test

You might be exempt from taking the English test if you are:

  • At least 50 years old when filing your application and a legal U.S. permanent resident for at least 20 years.
  • At least 55 years old when filing your application and a legal U.S. permanent resident for at least 15 years.

Note: Applicants who are exempt from taking the English test must still take the Civics test, unless they request an exception based on a physical disability or a mental illness.

Tips on How to Prepare for the Interview

USCIS has several resources to help you prepare for the interview, including study materials for both tests. The agency also hosts periodic naturalization workshops across the country. also has a section where you can find community resources that might help you prepare for the exams.

On the day of the interview you should:

  • Review your appointment letter carefully and follow all of the instructions. The letter says which additional documents you should bring. Your case might be delayed if you don’t bring them.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early so that you have enough time to go through security.
  • Answer truthfully to all of the questions. Lying to an immigration officer might disqualify you from becoming a citizen.