What is the naturalization interview?

naturalization interview

Naturalization is the process that makes you a citizen of the United States of America. The naturalization interview is when you are questioned by a United States Citizenship and Immigration officer. It is an important step in becoming a US citizen.

Before your naturalization interview

The interview is one of several steps in the process to become a US citizen. By the time you attend your interview, you will have checked that you are eligible. You will have already submitted (sent) your application form. This form is called Form N-400. You also will have completed a background check.

When all your paperwork is complete, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send an appointment notice. The notice will tell you the date and time of your interview. The interview is the last step to become a citizen. Once you pass your naturalization interview, you will be able to become a US citizen.

Getting ready for your naturalization interview

The best thing you can do to succeed at your interview is: be prepared!

Being prepared means making sure your English reading, speaking and writing skills are good enough. It also means being ready for the Civics test. If you are not ready, you can sign up for our free classes to prepare you for the exam.

how to prepare for your naturalization interview

Things to bring with you

Being prepared also means having everything you need to take to your interview.

You must bring the following items with you:

  • Your appointment notice
  • Your Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Card (Green Card)
  • Your driver’s license or state-issued identification card
  • All current and expired passports or travel documents

You may also want to bring:

  • A copy of your application for your own reference
  • A list of the 100 questions that the officer will pick 10 questions from (remember that some of the answers, such as the name of the president, will change).

You are allowed to bring your lawyer if you have one.

Your appointment notice will tell you if you need to bring other documents, such as marriage or divorce certificates, tax documents, or documents to do with your spouse or children.

What will happen at your naturalization interview

Arriving for the interview

Make sure to know exactly where you are going so you don’t get lost and arrive late. You might want to go visit the office a week before your appointment so you know exactly where the office is and how to get there. It is good to arrive half an hour early for your appointment. You will need time to go through a security checkpoint and find the right office and the waiting area. Also, if you are there a little early, you will feel less rushed and nervous.

You may have to wait for a while until it is your turn. You can use the time to look over your form or test questions. The USCIS officer will come out and call your name when it is your turn. You will go to a private office. Before you sit down, the officer will ask you to raise your right hand and make a promise to tell the truth.

Testing your English speaking skills

During the interview, the officer is making sure your information is true and correct. He or she will ask lots of questions about the information on your application (Form N-400). At the same time, he or she is testing your English language skills.

Some older individuals and some people with health problems or mental disabilities may be able to apply for an exception to the English language requirement. Here is information about who can qualify for an exception.

Background questions and signing forms

The officer will ask questions about your background. He or she may ask questions that were not on the application form. Here are some types of questions you might be asked:

  • Have you traveled abroad since you filled out your form?
  • Were you ever married before? Have you been divorced?
  • Have you ever committed a crime? Do you have a criminal record?
  • What organizations do you belong to?
  • Do you swear allegiance to the United States? (Do you promise to be a good citizen?)
  • Have you ever served in the military? If you were required to serve in the military by draft, would you?

When the questions are finished, you will need to sign a few documents, including your application and your photographs.

Civics test, reading and writing skills

Most people will also have to take a test on US history and government. (There are some exceptions for older people or people with health issues or disabilities. Here is information about who can qualify for an exception.). This part of the interview may be with the same officer, or it may be with a different person. It could come first or at the end.

During this exam, you must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly about US civics. The questions and answers are spoken. There will be a short written part to the test to test your writing skills. The officer will tell you a sentence to write down. You will also be asked to read a sentence.

Watch a video about the USCIS naturalization interview

Here is a link to the Guide to Naturalization mentioned in the video. Download and keep it to refer to as you go through the process. Most of the questions you have will be answered in the guide.

Tips and suggestions

  • From the time the officer greets you, he or she is testing your English skills. Be sure to speak carefully and clearly.
  • Always tell the truth and do not hold back any information. The officer may have information about you from another source. If you do not know an answer or cannot remember, it is okay to say so. It is also okay to tell the officer if you do not understand something.
  • If you do not speak English, try to find time to go to English classes in your community. Many local colleges, libraries and community centers offer free classes. You can look in the RCO Resources section to find classes. Or you can find online classes here.
  • Take a US citizenship course to help you pass your test. If you would like to go to a class in your community, you can search for places here – many of the classes listed in our Resources section are free. Or you can take our free online Citizenship class. You can sign up here and begin whenever you are ready!

Good luck with your interview! Remember:

Be eligible, be prepared, and be truthful.

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