Get to know about tests in the process of becoming a citizen in US.

US citizen test


One of the most important requirements for US citizenship is the English language knowledge. Next to the main eligibility requirements like 18 years of minimum age and being a green card holder with minimum 5 years presence in US for the process of becoming a citizen in US the educational requirements are verified. To determine if an applicant meets the English and civics requirements a naturalization test is administered by an officer.

The two components of the naturalization test are proficiency in English language and next US history and government knowledge. The ability of applicant to read, write, speak and understanding of English language is tested.  Testing of the US history and government knowledge forms part of the civics test.

Do I get to take a retest?

The initial examination and the re-examination interview are the two opportunities given to an applicant to pass both tests. Even after two attempts if the applicant fails in any portion of the two tests then USCIS will deny the naturalization application. Failed portion of the test must be administered by the officer again in case the applicant requests a hearing by USCIS on the denial.

Failure to appear for the testing re-examination, take tests at an examination or at a hearing are counted as attempts of failure to pass the test by an applicant unless USCIS excuses it.

Who qualifies for test exception?

From both the requirements of taking the English and the civics tests or any one of them applicant may be given exception. Following are scenarios when an applicant qualifies for such exceptions during naturalization.

1. Exception based on age and residency 

From the English language based test an applicant may be given exception but he/she still should pass the civics test if

  • At the time naturalization application is filed if the applicant is 50 years of age or older and lived in US for minimum 20 years as an lawful permanent resident; or
  • At the time of filing application for US citizenship if the applicant is 55 years of age or older and lived in US for minimum 15 years as a lawful permanent resident.

In the language of own choice the applicant is allowed to take the civics test with the help of an interpreter.

2. Civics test based exceptions

If applicant is 65 years of age or older and has been staying as a lawful permanent resident for minimum period of 20 years in United States at the time of filing for US citizenship special consideration with regards to civics test is given. Specific form for the test is administered for an applicant who qualifies for such special consideration.

3. Exception based on medical disability

Either from the civics requirement, English requirement or sometimes from both requirements exemption is given due to severe medical disabilities the applicant is not able to meet the English and civics requirements.

Under IRCA 1986 requirements

In order to be eligible for adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident it’s mandatory according to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) for persons legalized under INA 245A to meet basic skill requirement for citizenship. In order to demonstrate basic citizenship skills an applicant was required to pass the English and civics tests which are administered by legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now USCIS. If not by an INS authorized organization then applicants should pass the administered English and civics tests.

Under IRCA only on portion of the test the applicant did not satisfy the officer will retest the applicant on at the time of reexamination for naturalization.   Unless applicant is exempted of English test based on age and residence time considerations or only if he/she qualifies for a medical waiver otherwise at the time of naturalization examination in all cases applicant should demonstrate English speaking ability.

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