What happens if an immigrant fails their naturalization tests?

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2023 | Immigration Explained

Immigrants living in the United States have rights, but not as many rights as citizens. Many people who have legally entered the country want to eventually become full-fledged citizens. The naturalization process is how a permanent resident or green card holder becomes a United States citizen.

The naturalization process begins with paperwork submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCSIS). The USCIS then performs a background check and schedules an interview with the applicant. That interview involves not just questions about someone’s application but also two tests. USCIS employees test immigrants on their English language skills and Civics knowledge. What happens if someone fails either of those tests?

Immigrants get a second chance

English can be a difficult language to learn. Additionally, the interview format for testing can trigger anxiety in many people. Even those who prepared thoroughly for the Civics test may find themselves struggling during the actual testing process. Nerves can sometimes have a major impact on test performance. Other times, lack of sleep, an oncoming cold or just the wrong set of questions could lead to someone failing the naturalization tests.

If someone fails the tests, they still have options. They can request to retake the test(s) they failed. The USCIS can schedule a second test somewhere between 60 and 90 days after the first test. The applicant then has between two and three months to study and prepare for the test. They can review the Civics questions, all of which the USCIS provides online. They can also practice their language skills and review USCIS vocabulary guides.

If the applicant passes the second time, then they can obtain their citizenship. If they do not, they cannot take the test a third time. Thankfully, failing the test does not affect someone’s permanent resident status. The USCIS does not remove those who fail the naturalization tests. The applicant has the option of applying for naturalization again in the future if they study more and feel confident about their ability to pass.

Those who prepare thoroughly for immigration testing have a better chance of passing. In certain cases, people can obtain special exemptions or disability accommodations for the tests. Learning more about the naturalization interview and testing process may benefit those hoping to become citizens.