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 in English

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?

Fellow Attorney

Dear reader:

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.


Copyright © 2003-2012 Alan Lee, Esq.
The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of the Law Office of Alan Lee or establish an attorney-client relationship.