Website Q & A - December 9, 2006
Passing the Naturalization Test and being Denied for Citizenship
at the Swearing in Ceremony for not being able to Answer a Question
Dear Mr. Lee:
I would be grateful for your advice. I've got a heart-broken 76-year-old
client. She appeared yesterday for an oath ceremony.
Sometime between the moment she entered the Dist Court with her
kids and grandkids to celebrate her impending natz & the time
she handed the officer her N-445 Questionnaire, CIS determined that
she couldn't speak English, notwithstanding that she passed the
English & civics exam on her 1st attempt at the natz interview.
The officer then had her converse with an unknown person via telephone
for approximately 15 minutes to review the Q's on the N-445.
Following the telephonic interview, the officer promptly removed
her from the list, denied her natz petition, and sent her home without
even her green card.
I understand that CIS-- when it receives derogatory information
between the time of interview and oath-- can do this (e.g., where
applicant is arrested or falls below physical presence req'ment,
etc). However, where CIS evaluates applicants’ ability to
speak English, isn't CIS required to do so in the context of a standardized
test and formal interview?
Officer here apparently made this determination in the course of
conversation with applicant and a 15 minute telephonic interview
with an unknown person. I don’t know of formal English and
civics exams being re-administered at the oath ceremonies, do you?
We have heard of the situation you describe, and it is disheartening
to anyone caught up in this situation. Hopefully someone will take
the time to litigate the matter. There is probably a due process
violation here. Other readers should be aware of this little known
practice, and prepare themselves for their swearing-in ceremony
just as if it was an extension of the test itself. In this regard,
candidates for swearing-in should take the time to read over and
fill out the questions on the backside of the N-445 form along with
signing, filling in the date and place of signing, and providing
the current address before going to the swearing in ceremony. They
should familiarize themselves with the questions in order to answer
intelligibly in English in the event that questions are asked. Please
note that the questions pertain to activities which have occurred
since the date of the test. For readers who are not aware, the N-445
questions are as follows:
After the date you were first interviewed on your application for
Naturalization, Form N-400:
1. Have you married, or been widowed, separated, or divorced? (If
“Yes” please bring documented proof of marriage, death,
separation or divorce.)
2. Have you traveled outside the United States?
3. Have you knowingly committed any crime or offense, for which
you have not been arrested; or have you been arrested, cited, charged,
indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating
any law or ordinance, including traffic violations?
4. Have you joined any organization, including the Communist Party,
or become associated or connected therewith in any way?
5. Have you claimed exemption from military service?
6. Has there been any change in your willingness to bear arms on
behalf of the United States; to perform non-combatant service in
the armed forces of the United States; to perform work of national
importance under civilian direction, if the law requires it?
7. Have you practiced polygamy; received income from illegal gambling;
been a prostitute, procured anyone for prostitution or been involved
in any other unlawful commercialized vice; encouraged or helped
any alien to enter the United States illegally; illicitly trafficked
in drugs or marihuana; given any false testimony to obtain immigration
benefits; or been a habitual drunkard?
Even though proper preparation may not always save an individual
at the swearing in ceremony (we have heard of others denied swearing
in where court officers believed that only their lips were moving
when reciting the oath of allegiance), at least these steps along
with learning to say the oath of allegiance might help avoid disappointment
at this very last step to naturalization. The words of the oath
of allegiance are as follows:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.