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The New Citizenship Test

Green card holders applying for citizenship are required to take the citizenship test as part of the naturalization process. On Oct. 1, 2008, the USCIS re-designed the questions and switched to a new bunch of test questions. Citizenship applicants filing on or after October 1, 2008 are required to take the new test. However, the format of the re-designed test for citizenship is the same. Most applicants have to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language by reading, writing and speaking. Apart from this, applicants also have to take a civics test.

The earlier version of the citizenship test had many questions surrounding basic historical facts of the US. Many of these were re-designed and the new test now requires more than just a one-word answer for the applicant to prove his knowledge on the subject. In the civics part, topics were expanded and the questions re-designed. The new test was not to make it harder for applicants to become US citizens. It just leads citizenship aspirants to a deeper and better understanding of US history and government.

During the interview, the Immigration interviewer will speak in English and will ask you questions related to the N-400 application that you submitted. All you need to do is prove that you can understand what the interviewer is asking, and have to answer the questions in plain English. In the writing section of the test, you will be dictated three sentences and you have to write at least one sentence correctly and possibly more if the interviewing officer is not satisfied with your ability to write in English. There are no standard sentences and the interviewer will use his/her discretion in what to ask and will generally base his/her decision on your level of education and background.

The civics test

Additionally, you will be tested on how well you understand US history and government. The interviewer does not expect you to have in depth knowledge but you have to demonstrate that you understand the system of the US government and how it works, how and why US was founded, and important events in US history. The civics test will be oral and the interviewer will ask ten questions from the available hundred questions. You will be considered to have passed the civics part if you are able to answer at least six out of ten questions correctly.

There are free study guides and public libraries also have the study materials to prepare for the test. If you have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment and if that impairment is affecting your ability to learn English and Civics, you can claim a waiver to the test. In such instances, you have to file Form N-648 requesting an exception and this form has to be filed along with the Naturalization application. If you are eligible for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement, you should bring an interpreter with you for the interview.

Your case most probably will be approved or denied within four months of the interview. If approved, the oath ceremony will be held the same day or at a later date, depending on the procedure at the your local USCIS office.

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