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What happens if immigrants don’t pass their naturalization test?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Citizenship & Naturalization

Immigrants don’t just become citizens because they have stayed in the country for an extended time. They have to complete a formal naturalization process to become naturalized citizens.

Before applying, immigrants must validate that they potentially qualify based on residency and other details. Then, they must pay a fee and submit certain paperwork to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If they pass the background check process and theoretically qualify to naturalize, they must schedule an interview.

The naturalization interview with the USCIS is more than just questions about the applicant. It also features two tests that immigrants typically need to pass if they hope to become citizens.

What are the required tests?

There is an English language test and also a test in Civics that most immigrants need to pass. People need to be able to read and write in English, and they also need to understand the history and government of the United States of America. The USCIS does provide a list of all potential Civics questions and recommended vocabulary words to know. Despite having those resources, many immigrants worry about failing the test. What happens if an immigrant doesn’t pass the naturalization tests?

People can retake the test once

Immigrants might fear that if they fail the tests, they can face removal from the United States. Thankfully, there are no punishments for failing to pass the test other than not becoming a citizen. The USCIS does offer the opportunity to retake the test one time after an immigrant fails initially. Typically, they have to schedule that retake within 60 days of the initial interview and testing process. Those who pass when retaking the test can move forward with the naturalization process. Those who do not pass during the retake may have to start the process over entirely.

Permanent residents and visa holders are not at risk of any punishment for failing to complete the naturalization process, but they do have to pay the fee a second time and resubmit paperwork if they intend to attempt again after failing the initial test and the retake. Understanding the rules that apply to the naturalization process can help people feel more confident about their decision to become citizens. Proper preparation can improve an immigrant’s chances of passing their test the first time.