My naturalization interview is next week, but I’m not ready!

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Question:

I just received a notice saying that my naturalization is scheduled for next week. I thought I'd have more of a chance to prepare for it, and I'm worried that I won't be ready. Should I just ask to reschedule?

Answer:

If your interview appointment has been scheduled and you do not feel you will be sufficiently prepared by that date – perhaps you have not learned as much English as you thought you would, or you are having trouble remembering the exam questions and answers – it is probably a good idea to attend the interview regardless.

One reason is that the interview might be easier than you think. The officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who interviews you is supposed to take into account any factors related to your education or age that would make the interview difficult. If, for example, you come from a country without a written language, or you are elderly and never went to college, you do not have to worry that the officer will ask you all the toughest civics questions.

Another noteworthy consideration is that you will, if you fail the exam portion of the first interview, get a second chance. A second interview will be scheduled for you automatically, within 90 days following your first one. You can think of the first interview as a sort of practice round.

If, however, you are afraid to attend the interview because you now realize you are ineligible for citizenship, or you would be putting your green card at risk by continuing with your application, that is another matter. Perhaps, for example, you did not spend enough of your five years as a permanent resident living in the U.S., or a recent criminal conviction may make you deportable. You should absolutely reschedule your interview in such a situation.

In your reschedule request letter, you should say that circumstances beyond your control require you to miss the scheduled interview. Then consult with a lawyer immediately. If the situation is serious enough, the lawyer may recommend withdrawing your application altogether, so as to remove it from USCIS’s attention.

For more information on the naturalization application process, see "How to Become a U.S. Citizen."

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