Like most US Americans, I’ve always had opinions about the citizenship process without really knowing the details. It’s complicated stuff! Now that I have clients who are curious about the process, I’m trying to become better informed–and really, I should have done this ages ago.
First off, let’s start with Reason magazine’s flowchart showing the tortuous paths to legal immigration (PDF). If anything, this probably makes the process looks streamlined. Ouch.
Now, if you make it to the final level, you have a test to pass. There’s a new citizenship/naturalization test as of October 1, 2008, which looks to be more complex than the old ones. CNN reported on it and included a quiz with 5 old-style and 5 new-style questions. (Of course, this test is easier than the real thing, which is oral and not multiple-choice.)
There’s also an English reading and writing test, which isn’t described in detail on the above page. From the PDF linked for the rubric, I guess it’s something like this:
For reading, you’re given three written sentences. You have to choose one sentence (your choice, I think) and read it out loud. Accent doesn’t matter. Some pauses are OK, but they shouldn’t be long pauses. Content words should all be included, but it’s OK if a few short words are missed without affecting meaning. Pronunciation or intonation mistakes are OK if they don’t affect meaning or comprehensibility. My friends who took this a few years ago say the sentences were fairly simple.
For writing: The tester reads a sentence out loud and you have to write it down. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes are OK unless they interfere with meaning. The written sentence needs to be about the same as the spoken sentence, but a few missed words are OK if they don’t interfere with meaning.
At least, that’s how I understand it. Since this test is new (other than the English portion), there’s not a lot of first-hand information online. If you have corrections or if you’ve read a personal account online of the current test–October 2008 onward–, please let me know.
(I apologize again for the erratic nature of my posts–medical issues continue to come up with my friends, family, and me, so there’s been a lot going on.)