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Q
What happens during and after my naturalization interview? Will I be sworn in at USCIS right then and there?

A

I attended two naturalization interviews yesterday.  At the St. Louis sub-office of USCIS, some weeks the officers work on naturalization cases.  On other weeks, they work on green cards or other visa matters. Yesterday, I started speaking with some of the people there for their naturalization interview and nobody seemed sure about what would happen after the interview.  I thought I would write a little bit about that.

Typically, when you go into the office for your interview, you will be asked to leave your cellphone on a desk out in the hall.  Before you sit down, you will be placed under oath.  The officer will then review your N-400 application with you, asking many of the same questions that were asked on the N-400 form.  Your interview may or may not be videotaped.  The officers typically spend some time reviewing your work and travel history, any criminal matters and your prior immigration history.  They may also ask about family members and their immigration status.

The second portion of the interview will be the naturalization examination.  You will be asked to write a sentence in English and to read a sentence in English.  You will be asked civics questions and you have to score a 60% to pass.  If you get six answers right, the examiner usually stops asking questions.

The final portion of the interview will concern the oath of allegiance.  Some officers will ask you to explain in your own words what the oath means to you.  Others will read you questions about the oath and write down your answers.  We have also seen officers ask the person being interviewed to read the oath out loud and then explain what it means.  The oath is an important part of the interview and we have seen people get their citizenship denied or delayed because they could not explain the oath.

If you pass your civics exam and everything goes smoothly with your interview, you will receive a form that says (1) that you appeared for the interview; and, (2) that your application has been recommended for approval.  Unlike certain other jurisdictions, you will not be sworn in as a U.S. citizen on the day of your exam.  Instead, if your application is approved, you will receive a letter about 3-6 weeks later directing you to your oath ceremony.  Usually, the ceremony is held at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which is located at 111 S. 10th Street, St. Louis, MO 63102.  The ceremonies also take place at colleges and other landmarks such as the Old Courthouse.

If you end up waiting for more than 120 days from the time of your interview for a ceremony, USCIS may be delaying your case.  If you would like more information on how we may be able to help you with your naturalization delay, click here for more information.

Some naturalization cases are straightforward and may be able to be handled without an attorney.  Other cases require the expertise of an immigration attorney.  If you would like help with your naturalization application, please contact us at  (888) 782-4169 or by completing our online webform here.

James O. Hacking, III
I help people deal with the immigration bureaucracy and I work to make right the wrongdoing of others.
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