What if I Fail My Citizenship Test?

The final portion of the citizenship and naturalization process is taking the citizenship test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon passing, candidates become American citizens.

Those who fail have the option of retaking the test at a later date, though candidates can only do so one time. Those who fail a second time are not granted citizenship and must reapply for Naturalization (Citizenship) all over again and pay the full filing fees to retake the test.  For such reasons, candidates for citizenship need to be fully prepared prior to taking the Citizenship exam.

What Does the U.S. Citizenship Test Consist Of?

The citizenship exam is given during a naturalization interview with a USCIS officer who will begin by asking questions regarding your background and information on your application. The exam itself consists of two parts, English and civics, as follows:

English Test

The three-part English test will be administered first to gauge your knowledge of the English language through:

  • Speaking: You will be asked questions in English to test your understanding of the language and you must answer in English
  • Reading: You will be given three sentences to read out loud to show your ability to read and understand written English. You must read at least one correctly to pass.
  • Writing: You will be given three sentences to write in English to demonstrate that you understand how to write in English. You must write at least one correctly to pass.

Civics Test

The civics test is designed to show that you have a fundamental understanding of the United States government and history. You have two versions of the exam you may choose from, depending on your circumstances:

  • 2008 version: Applicants who filed their citizenship application prior to December 1, 2020, or after March 1, 2021 must take this version, the USCIS officer administers the exam orally and asks 10 questions from a master list of 100 questions. You must answer at least six correctly to pass.
  • 2020 version: Applicants who applied for citizenship before March 1, 2021, or on or after December 2, 2020, and with interviews prior to April 19, 2021, may choose to take this version or the 2008 version. If using the 2020 version, you will be asked 20 questions out of a master list of 128, and you must answer at least 12 questions correctly to pass.

If you fail either or both the English and civics test, you have the option of retaking the test no later than 60 to 90 days after the date of the initial test and interview. If you fail either section a second time you will have to reapply for Naturalization all over again. 

There are other potential reasons your petition for citizenship may be denied even if you successfully pass the exam. One of the main other reasons for being denied are related to the failure to provide proper requested documents or incomplete information on applications:

  • Residency: Failure to meet the requirements regarding continuous residence and physical presence in the United States for five consecutive years prior to applying for citizenship or for three consecutive years if residing with qualified spouses.
  • Criminal history: Citizenship can be denied if the applicant has aggravated felony or murder charges or convictions, in which case, application for citizenship is permanently denied.
  • Taxes: Applicants who fail to pay the necessary taxes and are unable to prove employment in order to pay them will have citizenship permanently denied.
  • Lying: False statements or lying at any stage of the citizenship process, including on applications, provided documents, or verbal statements can result in permanent denial of citizenship.

The path to citizenship in the United States requires significant preparation. There is ample information provided on the USCIS website to aid in your studying efforts, including all of the English and civics materials the test covers, as well as videos, flashcards, study guides, and interactive practice tests which can be taken as many times as you need to learn and become proficient.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin P.C. Assist Clients Seeking American Citizenship

For many immigrants, becoming an American citizen is a lifelong dream, opening the doors for an entirely new future. Attorneys such as the experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin P.C. can provide guidance, ensure proper filings, and help you understand your rights when applying for United States citizenship. Call us at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and nationwide.