The naturalization interview is the final step to getting your naturalization application approved. You should bring original documents such as your birth certificate, permanent resident card, state-issued identification, all past visas and travel documents, and a printout of your interview notice. If there have been any changes to the information on your application since it was filed, such as a new trip outside of the U.S. or a change of address or employment, make sure to bring copies of the new evidence.
You may bring an attorney to represent you at the interview if you wish. This is especially recommended if you have a complex legal issue in your background that could potentially deem you ineligible for naturalization, such as a divorce from your sponsor shortly following your green card issuance, an extended trip during a time you were supposed to be residing in the U.S., or a serious criminal charge. Your attorney will be able to defend you and help you explain the matter to the officer.
The interview will probably take approximately 20 minutes. The officer will review your application and ask you questions about your background. It is important to be honest during the interview; lying or omitting something about your past because you’re worried it will negatively affect your chance at naturalization will likely end up being worse for your case. USCIS often has information about you outside of what you submitted with your application.
After the questioning portion of the interview is done, you will take both the English-language test and the civics test. You will be told the results of your tests right away. You will not be provided with a translator (unless you are exempt from the English-language test); the officer will be evaluating your ability to understand and speak English throughout the entire interview. If you don’t understand a question asked or a direction given by the officer, it’s okay to ask them to repeat or rephrase it; it’s much better to do that then pretend you understand something that you don’t. The officer will repeat and rephrase their question many times, until it’s reasonable to assume that your level of English is too low.
If you are approved, you will be scheduled for an oath ceremony, which is when you’ll officially become a U.S. citizen.
You may be asked for more evidence, in which case you will be given detailed instructions on what additional evidence is needed and where you should send it.
If you get denied due to failing one of the tests, you do have a second chance; a second opportunity will be scheduled within 60 to 90 days from the first interview. If you fail either test again, however, your application to naturalize will be denied.
You may also receive a denial for another reason that makes you ineligible for naturalization. You can appeal a denial, but chances are low that the appeal will be accepted. It’s best to prepare with an attorney in order to get help navigating any potential ineligibility and create a good strategy for test preparation; this way, you can avoid receiving a denial in the first place.