JULY 2003

• Immigration and Naturalization Service

• The New York City Mayor's Office Of Immigrant Affairs and Language Services

• Citizenship NYC

• New York Immigration Hotline

• National Immigration Forum

• Genealogical Resources in the New York Metropolitan Area

• America Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Law Foundation

• Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force

• Glossary

Local: General

• Archdiocese of New York Immigrant and Refugee Services

• Citizens Committee For New York City

• Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

Local: Specific

• Asian Americans for Equality

• Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund


• Chinese Progressive Association

• Emerald Isle Immigration Center of New York

• Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York

• National Association of Korean Americans

• National Coalition for Haitian Rights



Citizenship Test

By Catherine Shu

Click here to take
the Citizenship Test Quiz.

What does it mean to be an American? U.S. citizens who have lived here all their lives might shrug off the question as celebratory rhetoric. But for the approximately 600,000 immigrants who seek naturalization each year, the definition of being an American is more strictly delineated.

According to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services' Guide to Naturalization, applicants for citizenship must have permanent residence status, good moral character and a basic understanding of the English language and of U.S. history and government.

Competency in the latter two is tested during an interview with an immigration official who will administer both oral and written exams to the applicant.

The immigration official chooses appromixately twelve civics questions from a list of one hundred. While the immigrant agency does not keep statistics on pass or failure rates, the majority of naturalization applicants who take the exam do go on to become U.S. citizens.

Long Island City resident Dae-il Kim, who took the test last year, agreed. "They ask you a few questions about simple government facts. They just want to know that you can speak English well and that you're not a criminal."

"If you have a basic knowledge of political structure and history, then it's pretty easy," said Gary Pang, 20, a resident of Flushing, Queens who took the test in 2000, "I think all the questions were pretty easy to answer if you studied the guide, which was basic American history."

Officials in different cities also determine the structure of the test. While some cities leave the questions open-ended, other cities provide applicants with multiple choice answers. In the 1990s, the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform recommended that the tests be standardized, and that the information contained within the questions be made more current and relevant.

The new crop of civics questions is already being tested in a pilot program launched on March 13, 2003 in Newark, San Antonio, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Atlanta. The BCIS officials hope to have the new test officially implemented by late 2004.

Meanwhile, the following list of questions are sample of what the U.S. government believes is important for U.S. citizens to know.

Click Here to take the Citizenship Test Quiz.

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