Could you pass the test?
Here are a few of the questions from the American Citizenship exam:
1.What is one responsibility that is only for United States citizens?
2. Name one right only for United States citizens.
3. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S. Constitution. Name one of the writers.
4. When was the Constitution written?
5.There are four amendments to the Constitution about who can vote. Describe one of them.
1. serve on a jury
vote in a federal election
2.vote in a federal election
run for federal office
• (Alexander) Hamilton
• (John) Jay
Citizens eighteen (18) and older (can vote).
• You don't have to pay (a poll tax) to vote.
• Any citizen can vote. (Women and men can vote.)
• A male citizen of any race (can vote).
To those born in the United States, citizenship is something many of us take granted. We will never need to take the U.S. citizenship test. But for many immigrants and refugees it is something they study for every day, for years.
Many refugees and immigrants come to the country speaking very little English. They enter a totally foreign world where they must learn how to navigate a new infrastructure and face new cultural norms. They must find housing and a job, not to mention things like filing income taxes and paying their utilities.
Imagine trying to learn the history and government structure of your new country while doing all these other things. Before immigrants can take the test they must live in the United States for five years.
Despite the challenges that many people go through to get citizenship, they have several good reasons for becoming citizens: the right to vote, the citizenship they'll get for children born abroad, and the ability to travel freely across U.S. borders, to collect benefits like Social Security and Medicare, to reunite with family in the United States, and to become a federal employee or an elected official.
U.S. Immigration Services provides a study guide and CD to help applicants study. They must know the answers to 100 questions, 10 of which will be asked during the exam. The exam is both written and oral and they have no way to know what will be asked and what will be written. This means whoever is taking the test needs to understand the questions and be able to write the answers.
Terri Noone, a former citizenship instructor, said it can be very challenging. She remembers a Burmese woman in her class who could neither speak nor write English when she started. Noone said she made tapes for the woman and while the woman was working her job as a seamstress she would listen to the tapes over and over, memorizing the questions and answers. She was able to take the test and passed within five months of starting the class.
“She was really determined,” Noone said.
There are several different places to take citizenship classes, including the YWCA. No set limit exists for how long someone stays in the class, said Faustina Adat, who works at the YWCA. It just depends on the individual and how quickly the person learns the material.
When the immigrants feel they are ready they must fill out an application, then they must take a day to go to Indianapolis where they are fingerprinted and orally interviewed. After that if they are approved to take the test they will get a letter telling them when and where they can take it.
There are also several fees they must pay during the process, including 49.95 just to get the application to fill out. James Shwe, a recent refugee from Burma and new U.S. citizen, said there is a $680 charge to take the exam, but this can be waived for hardship. His father had to take the test three times, a very expensive process as the father had a disability and was a recent refugee to the United States. He eventually passed.
After the exam, applicants will receive notification if they passed the test. If they did they will be invited to attend the naturalization ceremony that takes place in federal court, where they are sworn in as Americans.