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A Citizenship Interview at USCIS & Citizenship Updates

I attended a USCIS citizenship interview recently with a client, who we shall call “Ms T” here. In this article we look at the naturalization interview to become a US citizen and provide some citizenship updates.

The Citizenship Interview

Our citizenship interview takes place at the Federal Building in Downtown Los Angeles. To enter the building, we wait in line for about 25 minutes and go through the security checkpoint in our masks.

Inside the US Citizenship and Immigration (USCIS) appointment room, we give the clerk at the window our appointment notice. We sit in the waiting room for thirty minutes before an immigration officer calls Ms. T’s name and takes us into his office.

Inside his office, the USCIS officer sits behind a large clear screen. After looking at our identification he has Ms. T. take the oath and starts the interview.

Next, the officer gives her the civics, written and reading tests. This is to see if she can read, write, and understand simple words and sentences in English which is a requirement for naturalization. Next, he looks at her form N400 citizenship application and asks her questions.

Now the officer tells Ms. T. to look at a camera and takes her photograph, then he asks her to use a stylus pen to sign her name on a computer tablet.

Unlike previous citizenship interviews, the officer does not have the complete file on his desk, so he looks at his computer for additional information. This is because the immigration service is now storing more information electronically so that they can go “paperless”.

Finally, the interview is over, and the officer tells us that Ms. T. has passed her naturalization interview.

The Oath Ceremony

The officer leaves the room to generate the oath ceremony appointment immediately using the electronic system. He gives Ms. T. an appointment for the next day. This oath ceremony is different. It will take place outside, at the back of the immigration building with a few applicants, and not inside the local convention center with hundreds of people.

Ms. T. returns the next day where she is sworn in as a U.S. citizen and receives her naturalization certificate.

Why This Citizenship Application Was Approved Quickly

This citizenship application was approved quickly because in addition to meeting the citizenship requirements, our client was also well prepared. She kept good records of the documents we told her to get. Also, she took note of the topics that we suggested were likely to be important to the USCIS officer. In addition to discussing her civics test, after our mock interview with her, she said she was more confident because she now knew what to expect at her interview. The advantage of this is that at the interview the officer did not have to wait for additional documents or give her a Request For Evidence (RFE). As a result, he was able to give her the next available oath ceremony appointment date.

Two Citizenship Updates

The USCIS Officers Are Taking A Closer Look At Your Past

The first recent citizenship update is that the USCIS officers are taking a closer review of applicants’ past history. This is causing an increase in citizenship application denials or Requests For Evidence (RFE). The officers are reviewing applicants’ immigration history from before they received a green card. We have seen applicants being denied citizenship because of their previous immigration applications, DS260 forms, student visas and even for certain earlier marriages.

Oath Ceremony Appointments Are Now Very Fast or Very Slow.

The second citizenship update is that the oath ceremony appointment can now be very fast or very slow. Some applicants get quick next day oath ceremony appointments when the officer uses the electronic system to generate an appointment at the interview. On the other hand, if the electronic system is unable to generate your appointment at the interview or you need to submit additional documents in an RFE, then your oath ceremony can be delayed by many months.

Speak To Your Immigration Attorney

To improve your chances for success, speak to your immigration lawyer about your immigration and criminal history. This way you can fix potential problems in your case and reduce the chances of denial.

Finally, always seek legal advice if you have made a false claim to US citizenship, voted in elections, have criminal convictions, drug related arrests or convictions, and immigration violations. In such cases, it is safer to file for citizenship with help from an experienced immigration attorney.

If you are trying to decide how to move forward with your citizenship application, please remember to consult your immigration lawyer. This is a good starting point for preventing immigration problems. 

Thank you for reading this article. If you have any questions, our immigration law office is willing to help you reach your best immigration solution.

To learn more about this immigration matter or to schedule an appointment with our immigration lawyer, Doreen Emenike, please call us at (626-256-8500.

Related Reading: New Naturalization Updates May Increase Citizenship Denials

Read more: How to respond to a USCIS Request For Evidence (RFE)

About the author

Doreen Emenike is an immigration lawyer with over 20 years of experience. She helps people live in the U.S. legally and works at the Law Offices of Doreen A. Emenike.

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