Background: Passing the United States citizenship exam can be challenging for refugee populations for several reasons, including affordability of English classes, time restraints, medical stressors, and limited formal education. The purpose of this study was to examine factors that may influence a refugees’ ability to pass the citizenship exam, including English proficiency, education, employment, and completion of English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

Methods: Refugee patients at the International Family Medicine Clinic (IFMC) in Central Virginia participated in a survey that assessed their levels of English proficiency and whether or not they had passed the citizenship exam. The survey included questions about gender, employment, country of origin, years of education, participation in English classes and barriers to attendance.

Results: Refugees who had a higher level of self-reported English proficiency and more years of formal education were more likely to pass the citizenship exam. Other factors such as age, employment, English classes, and gender did not affect participants’ ability to pass the exam.

Conclusion: Further research needs to identify successful models to help refugees obtain English fluency and assist them in passing the U.S. citizenship exam.



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