For a lot of immigrants to the United States, their journey from their old homeland to this one isn’t complete until they become a naturalized citizen. To do that, however, an immigrant has to show that they meet certain criteria, and their application for citizenship will be heavily scrutinized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once they overcome the paperwork hurdles, the applicant then has to attend a naturalization interview where they have to answer questions about themselves and their desire to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. They’ll also have to answer a number of questions to show proficiency in English, as well as demonstrate knowledge of civics, U.S. history and the system of government.
What happens if nerves get the better of you and you fail? Here’s what you need to know.
Most people pass, but those who don’t can retake the test
It may ease a lot of your anxiety to know that the vast majority of applicants do pass the naturalization test the first time they take it. In fact, in 2021 (the last date for which figures are available), the pass rate for the initial exam was a robust 89.5%. However, a fail won’t end your pathway to citizenship. Those who fail one or more components of the exam get a second chance. In 2021, roughly another 6% of all applicants for naturalization were able to pass the tests on their second attempt, making the overall pass rate 96.1%.
It should also be noted that there is a process to request an N-648 exception for the English and civics testing requirements due to a physical and/or developmental disability or mental impairment – and it is not uncommon. Around 3.5% of all naturalization requests are submitted with this waiver, and the 96.1% pass rate includes those applicants.
Ultimately, the best way to secure U.S. citizenship is through proper preparation, so the more you know about the immigration process and the steps to naturalization, the more you’ll be ready for this challenging (but rewarding) experience.