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What happens when someone fails their naturalization tests?

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Citizenship and Naturalization |

Naturalization is the legal process that turns an immigrant into a citizen of the United States.  Naturalized citizens have the same rights as natural-born citizens. Someone who naturalizes eliminates the paperwork obligations to renew their green card every ten years and increases their ability to bring family members to the United States. They can expand their civil rights as well, as they can vote and can sometimes even run for public office.

Despite the benefits that naturalization inspires, many people delay attempting to naturalize. Naturalization can be a very intimidating process. People must submit paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and undergo a very thorough background check. They also typically need to attend an interview where they must complete a test in Civics and another that assesses their English language skills.

Many permanent residents spend months preparing for the naturalization tests. What happens if someone fails those tests?

People can retest one time

The naturalization tests are necessary for all but a select few who qualify for exemptions. People have to answer questions about the history or government of the United States. They must also show their proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and comprehending English.

There are study resources provided by the USCIS, and many community organizations provide support for those learning English as immigrants seeking to naturalize. Still, English is a very hard language to learn, and the system of government in the United States confuses a lot of people. Even those who study carefully may struggle during their naturalization tests. Therefore, the USCIS does extend some leniency to those who fail their immigration tests.

The applicant who failed will have the option to schedule a second test between 60 and 90 days after the first test. If someone passes when retaking the test, they can move forward with the naturalization process. If they fail again, they will have to restart the naturalization process to become a citizen.

Failing a naturalization test does not automatically lead to someone’s removal from the United States. It simply delays their citizenship. In some cases, people do not reapply after failing the first time. But, by seeking proper support, passing is a genuine possibility.