Knowledge of English for Citizenship Test

One of the requirements of the US Citizenship test is that the applicant demonstrate knowledge of English.  Many applicant, especially with limited knowledge of English take this to mean that if they pass the civics test, that is enough. However knowledge of English is a separate requirement than the knowledge of Civics. The law defines it as, “an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language. ”  However the law only requires a “reasonable test of literacy” and that “no extraordinary or unreasonable conditions shall be imposed on the applicant.”

The English written test uses sentences using simple words prescribed by USCIS. Thus those sentences are not unreasonable.  However the oral test is left up to the discretion of individual officers. In my experience, when some officers see applicants with limited knowledge of English, they get harder. I have had several officers ask applicants, after swearing-in to tell the truth, the definition of truth. Everyone knows what the word truth means, but it’s very hard to define a concept.  In fact, we should ask Rick Perry to define it on the spot and see how he does. I have also seen officers ask the definition of what it means to ‘swear allegiance.”  Yes, try define that Mr. Texas Governor.

On the other hand though I come across clients who parrot the answers to the 100 questions, and expect to vomit it out in the exam and pass. And yes, they pass the civics portion, but they don’t understand a word of English. An applicant must know enough English to be able to function in society, (ie do jury duty) and be able to make a reasonable decision during elections. And that means understanding people with somewhat more brain than Rick Perry. 

My best advice is to learn the 100 questions, but also to watch English TV.  TV is a fun and painless way to learn enough English to pass the Naturalization test.

 

Contact Houston Immigration Lawyer, or Houston Immigration Attorney Annie Banerjee, for more information

 

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