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Citizenship interview: what you can expect

A citizenship interview is part of the naturalization process if you want to live in another country. The process involves a lot of uncertainty and doubt as it is pretty much the last stage of the process. Will you be rejected? Will you be welcomed with open arms?

Before a citizenship interview, you will spend days or even weeks filling out forms. These will be checked, and double-checked, by the relevant departments for any irregularities, inconsistencies or vagueness. You have a lot riding on it, so you will definitely feel pressure to perform in the interview.

Preparation is vital if you want to be relaxed and composed. The following are some of the processes you can expect when you go to a citizenship interview. Of course, this may vary from country to country…

Arriving at the citizenship interview

citizenship interview

Immigration officers often set up a particular date for citizenship interviews with many candidates at the same time. So you could expect to find quite a number of people in the same office. If you want to get ahead of the line, try and get to the offices some time before the scheduled appointment. In these situations sometimes it is first come, first served. Getting there 30 minutes before the time will definitely lower your stress levels anyway.

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Although there may not be any specific dress code for a citizenship interview, you should dress as you would for a job interview.

Review of forms

Next, the officer at the immigration offices will show you into a cubicle where the interview will take place. It is common practice for the officer to ask that you swear in so you will tell the truth in the citizenship interview.

Generally, the interview will go through details you gave on the forms. Your documents may also be checked or copied. The documents you bring with you will probably be your permanent residency or alien registration card, identification cards and even your passport. It is important to bring all the documents that may be asked for in the notice for the interview even if you have sent copies before. The officers will start screening you, based on the information you provided in the forms.

To ensure that this portion of the citizenship interview is a success, a candidate should be clear about all the information given on the forms.

Notice of change of information

It is likely that some information will change, either slightly or significantly, since the forms were submitted. For instance, between forms submission and the citizenship interview, a newborn baby may have come along. Therefore, all the details including the birth certificate should be presented at this point. If the naturalization process was based on marriage and since the forms were put in you have divorced your spouse, then the process will probably be terminated.

If you have been arrested or jailed for a major felony, this can have dire consequences on the outcome of a citizenship interview. However, it is important to be truthful and answer all the questions clearly, and avoid any vagueness or generalizations.

Most amendments are minor and may not even be important enough to be noticed.

Moral and general questions

When the forms have been reviewed, the immigration officers will turn to general issues about your eligibility. The main aim of a citizenship interview is to determine your suitability. It is, therefore, imperative that you answer the questions, especially where there may be some doubt about your moral character.

If a candidate has been arrested in the past, the officers might cross-examine the candidate to try and understand the situation. Naturally, at this point the officers want to find out how well you know the country. So some questions could concern the law or how you understand the constitution of the land. You may also be asked specific questions about the government and its composition.

The officers may also ask you some general questions or give you a test. Such as the colors of the flag, emblems, or even the words for the national anthem. So you may be tested on your ability to converse in the national language. The tests may be oral or written. You may be asked to write a sentence or two, but it will be nothing complicated.

This part of the citizenship interview is designed to see that you are able to assimilate and not be disenfranchised because you can’t speak the language at all.

The Interview

The outcome

When the citizenship interview is over, you may have to wait for quite a while. If at any point the officers conducting the citizenship interview felt you held back information knowingly, or you lied, or failed the questions, you may have to start again.

Another interview for citizenship may be set up. On the other hand, if you emerge victorious in the interview, the next stage of citizenship takes place.

This next phase of the naturalization process involves taking an oath of allegiance. From here, guidelines are given as to how you, the new citizen, will be issued with identification and travel documents.

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