As a legal permanent resident of the U.S., you enjoy many rights and privileges. Still, you do not have quite as many of either as U.S. citizens do. If you want to vote, fast-track visa sponsorship for your relatives, apply for certain federal jobs or travel with a U.S. passport, it may be time to apply for naturalization.
Naturalization is the official process by which legal permanent residents become U.S. citizens. Before you receive your naturalization certificate, though, you are likely to have to demonstrate proficiency with the English language and a basic understanding of U.S. civics.
How do immigration officials test your knowledge?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, immigration officials interview naturalization applicants to ensure they qualify for citizenship. During your interview, you must answer six of 10 civics questions correctly. You also must satisfactorily write and speak in English.
It is important to note not all naturalization applicants must demonstrate English-language proficiency. If you have been a legal permanent resident for many years and are over the age of 50, you should talk to your immigration attorney about whether you qualify for an exemption.
What happens if you fail?
Even though there are many ways to prepare for a naturalization interview, it is not uncommon for applicants to fail the civics portion, the English part or both. You probably do not need to worry too much about failing the exam, though. Indeed, if you fail, immigration officials should give you an opportunity to retake the portion or portions you did not pass.
Your retake, though, is likely to require a follow-up naturalization interview. The USCIS should send you a second appointment notice within just a few weeks. If you fail either portion of the test during your second interview, however, you may have to begin your naturalization application again.
Ultimately, to decrease your chances of having to redo your naturalization interview, you should spend some time preparing for both components.