The process of becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization can be stressful. An applicant needs to prove she is eligible, of course. But she also must pass a naturalization test, which covers civics questions, writing in English and reading in English.
When I meet with new clients considering naturalizing, I talk with them about eligibility first (because we do not want to file if a person is not eligible).
But once we know a person is eligible, the most important question is whether they are ready to pass the naturalization test (or whether they can get ready soon).
In Kansas City, it is currently taking about 80 to 90 days from the date of filing the application until the interview. That’s not much time. So if you’ve filed and you’re not completely ready, now is the time to start preparing.
Thankfully, you don’t have to prepare alone. In the last ten years, the availability of online resources to help prepare for the naturalization exam has increased greatly. Here are a few of my favorites.
1. Sample Interview Videos (from USCIS)
Many clients are nervous about the interview because the don’t know what to expect. Thankfully, there is a sample naturalization interview available online. It’s a great place to start in preparing for your naturalization exam.
That video is also available in Spanish (by the way, I mention a number of Spanish resources throughout this post, but all the USCIS Spanish resources are available in one place here).
2. Subtitled Videos and Study Guides in Various Languages (from HIAS).
Although the USCIS site only provides the videos in English and Spanish, the folks at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) have improved one video by adding subtitles in Arabic, Chinese, Nepali, Russian, Serbo-Croatian/Bosnian, Somali, Vietnamese.
Here is the video with Arabic subtitles:
HIAS also provides a helpful naturalization workbook to review the questions in the context of how they might be asked during the interview.
And beneath each subtitled video is a workbook in that language. These are incredibly helpful resources which explain the answers to the questions in these various languages.
3. Flashcards and Study Guides.
The USCIS website for preparing for the civics test is also very helpful.
In addition to the videos I described above, the preparation site provides the civics questions in multiple formats. So, for more-visual learners, for example, there are tools like printable flashcards. For someone on the go, there are MP3s in English and Spanish, which you can download and put on your iPod or phone.
There are also interactive practice exercises, and booklets one can order.
There is a similar page for preparing for the English test with some of the same resources.
There is another study guide on the CLINIC page, which is similar to the HIAS study guides.
These are all free, and they’re all online.
4. Take a Practice Test.
There are several very good practice tests online. The USCIS version is a very comprehensive practice test, which can be taken in Spanish and in English.
The test lets you answer the questions and keeps track of your score.
I use this with my naturalization clients who aren’t completely sure they’re ready to file. If they can pass this test, then they shouldn’t have any problem in the interview. Take it as many times as you like.
Another self-test with an interesting user interface is here.
5. Review The Test Questions and Answers
If you don’t need visual tools or MP3s and instead just want the questions, those are all available online as well. For the civics exam, the questions and all answers are here in English and here in Spanish.
There are a number of other unofficial translations on the CLINIC website, including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese and other translations from community organizations, including Albanian, Amharic, Bosnian, Cambodian/Khmer, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Hmong, Lao, Oromo, Portugese/Brazilian, Russian, Somali, Thai, Tigrigna, Urdu.
The USCIS Teachers’ resource page also has all the questions with links to an audio file for each question, so you can hear what each question actually sounds like in English.
For the reading and writing portions, those questions are online too. The reading questions are here. Basically, you need to be able to read every word on that list.
The writing questions are here. At the interview, the officer will give you a sentence to write, which will consist of the words on that list. Learn them, and you’re golden.
6. Test Prep Resources From the San Francisco Public Library
Like the HIAS page, the San Francisco Public Library site provides an awesome set of resources for naturalization applicants. These include videos in Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
They also have links to study guides and offer a free citizenship workshop!
7. Mobile Apps
If you stare at your phone a lot (come on, who doesn’t?) why not download a naturalization app to test yourself whenever you want? Search the app store and find a free version. Here’s a good one. They’re also available for Android.
Do You Know of Other Resources?
I’m always on the lookout for more resources to help our clients prepare for the naturalization test. It isn’t easy for everyone, and everyone has a different style of learning. If you know of some other naturalization resources that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments.