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During your citizenship interview, a USCIS Officer will ask you questions about your application and background. To qualify for U.S. citizenship, almost all applicants should take an English language test and a Civics test. Generally, applicants must demonstrate the fact that they can read, write and speak basic English and also that they have basic knowledge of US history and government to pass the  US citizenship test and interview. The English test has three components namely reading, writing, and speaking whereas the civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics.

Your speaking ability will be checked a USCIS Officer during your interview. As far as reading ability is concerned, you have to read one out of three sentences correctly to demonstrate your ability to read in English. To demonstrate your writing ability, you should write one out of three sentences correctly. In Civics, there are 100 questions on the naturalization test. During your interview, you will be asked up to 10 questions from the list of 100 questions. You should answer at least six out of the ten questions correctly to pass the civics test. If you fail any section of the test, you will be retested on the same section of the test that you failed within the next 90 days.

There are a few who are exempted from taking the English Language and Civics Test. Applicants above 50 years of age and who have been permanent residents for periods totaling at least 20 years need not take the English test. But they have to take the Civics test, but can take it in a language of their choice. Such applicants should mark in red 50/20 on top of their citizenship application.

Applicants above 55 years of age and who have been permanent residents for periods totaling at least 15 years need not take the English test. But they have to take the Civics test and can take it in language of their choice. Applicants under this category should mark in red 55/15 on top of their citizenship application.

Applicants above 65 years of age and who have been permanent residents for periods totaling at least 20 years need not take the English test. But they have to take the Civics test, and can take it in a language of their choice. This test will be a simpler version. You will be asked about 10 questions out of a list of 25. Applicants under this category should mark in red 65/20 on top of their citizenship application.

Applicants who have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment where that impairment affects their ability to learn English and Civics are eligible for an exception. Such applicants should file Form N-648 requesting an exception. This form has to be filed along with the citizenship application.

If you are eligible for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement, you should bring an interpreter.

The test is not a multiple choice test. The applicant’s civics knowledge will be tested orally. The interviewing Officer will ask around 10 questions out of the 100 questions. Applicants should answer six out of ten questions correctly to pass the civics test.

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After you apply for US citizenship, you will be issued a citizenship certificate. In case you lose this certificate, you can get a replacement by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization or Citizenship Document with the USCIS.

Per the USCIS, you should file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization or Citizenship Document, if you have been issued a Naturalization Certificate, Certificate of Citizenship, Declaration of Intention or Repatriation Certificate which has been lost, mutilated, or destroyed. Form N-565 is also filed if your name has been changed by marriage or by court order after the citizenship document was issued and you need a document in the new name. But note that you should NOT file Form N-565 to correct errors on the citizenship certificate unless they are USCIS errors.

The application process :

To get a replacement of your citizenship certificate, you should fill and mail the completed N-565 application package to the USCIS along with the appropriate submission fees and supporting documents (if any). All the information about the submission fees, mailing address and supporting documents can be found in the instructions page. If you make any mistake in the submission fee or sent it to the wrong mailing address, your application will be sent back to you.

Apart from the application, you should submit two color photographs of yourself and the supporting documents. The photograph should be taken within 30 days of filing your application. If you are filing Form N-565 to get a replacement of a mutilated document, you have to attach the mutilated document and send it along with your application. If any of your supporting documents is in a foreign language, it has to be accompanied by a full English language translation where the translator has certified it as complete and accurate.

After you send the application to the USCIS, they will check for completeness, including submission of the required initial evidence and the correct submission fee. In case you do not fill out the form completely, or sent the application without the appropriate initial evidence, you will not establish a basis for eligibility and chances are that, the USCIS may return your application. Additionally, if your application is not signed or not accompanied by the correct fee, the USCIS will reject it with a notice that the application is deficient. So always ensure that your application is complete and also that you submit the needed supporting documents along with the correct submission fee.

Once you have filed your application with the USCIS, you will receive an Application Receipt Notice with a 13-character Application Receipt number within 30 days of having filed. This is the proof that USCIS has received your N-565 application. You can use the 13- digit number on the notice to check the status of your application. Additionally, the USCIS might request more information or evidence when you appear at their office for an interview and may also request you to submit the originals of supporting documents. Finally, if the USCIS find you eligible for the document, your application will be approved and the new document will be issued. In case your application is denied, the USCIS will notify in writing detailing the reasons for the denial. The whole process on an average takes up to six months.

 

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One of the key eligibility requirements while applying for US citizenship is maintaining continuous residence. It means that you should not have left the United States for a long period of time. If you had left the United States for too long, you would have interrupted your continuous residence and it might make you ineligible to apply for US citizenship.

Outside the United States between 6 and 12 months :

If you leave the US for more than six months, but less than one year, you have broken or disrupted your continuous residence unless you can prove otherwise.

Outside the United States for 1 year or longer :

Mostly, if you leave the United States for 1 year or more, it means you have disrupted your continuous residence. This is also applicable even if you have a Re-entry Permit. If you leave the country for one year or longer, you may be eligible to re-enter as a Permanent Resident if you have a Re-entry Permit. But none of the time you were in the United States before you left the US counts toward your time in continuous residence.

If you return within 2 years, some of your time spent outside of US does count. In fact, the last 364 days of your time outside the US (1 year minus 1 day) counts toward meeting your continuous residence requirement.

This continuous residence requirement does not apply to certain types of applicants, such as members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving during designated periods of conflict. Other provisions allow a few other types of applicants to remain outside the US more than a year without disrupting their continuous residence status. To maintain their continuous residence while out of the US, such people must file an “Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes” (Form N-470).

In the citizenship application, while counting the total number of days you have been out of the US, you have to include all trips you have taken outside the US. This should include even the short trips and visits to Canada and Mexico. For example, if you go to Canada for a weekend, you must include that trip when you are counting how many days you have spent out of the US. Normally,partial days spent in the US count as whole days spent in the US. However, certain types of applicants can count the time outside the US as time physically present in the US. An example of this exception is one who is abroad in the employment of the U.S. Government.

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There are quite a few eligibility requirements to be met in order to qualify for citizenship.

  • You should be 18 years or older.
  • You have to be a permanent resident (have a Green Card) now and during all of the past 5 years.
  • Continuous residence requirement: You should have resided in the United States for a continuous period prior to the filing of the naturalization application. If you are not married to an American citizen, you should have resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of five years after admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident. Whereas, if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you should have resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years after admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
  • Physical Residence Requirement: You should have physically resided in the U.S. for one half the period of continuous residence needed within the period required for continuous residence. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you should have been physically present in the United States accumulatively for eighteen months within three years prior to the date of applying for US citizenship. Whereas if you are not married to a U.S.citizen, you should have been physically present in the U.S. accumulatively for thirty months within five years before the date of filing the application. This requirement is cumulative but not continuous. You can leave and come back to the U.S within the three or five years as much as you want as long as you do not break the continuity of residence, and as long as your total time spent in the U.S. adds up to eighteen or thirty months.
  • You should have resided in your current state for at least 3 months before applying. Note that your current state is the state where you are submitting your citizenship application.
  • You should not have broken any immigration law and also that you have not been ordered to leave the US.
  • You should not have been a member of the Communist Party at any time during the past ten years.
  • You should be able to show at least 5 years of good moral character and that you believe in the principles of the US constitution.
  • You should be able to speak, read, and write simple English during your interview and that you can pass the test on US history and government.
  • You should be prepared to take an oath of allegiance to the U.S.

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