After December 1st, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will administer a new version of the civics test, one of the three tests given at naturalization interviews. Under the new test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant to orally answer 20 out 128 questions. An applicant must answer at least 12 questions correctly to pass. Right now, applicants only have to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly.
The new test is expected to take twice as long to administer and may help contribute to an additional backlog in the adjudication of naturalization applications. Critics have said the test is too hard and believe that it will make it much more difficult for less educated, poorer immigrants to pass. Some questions have also been criticized as overly ideological.
Not only are there more questions on this new test, the questions are more nuanced. Some questions ask for more information from the applicant. For example, while the current test asks applicants to name one of the three branches of government, the new exam will ask applicants to name them all. USCIS has also changed the answers to some of the questions, thereby making it harder for an applicant to answer them correctly. For example, in a previous test, the correct answer to the question “Who does a U.S. senator represent?” was “all the people of the state”. Now, the correct answer will be “citizens of their state”. These new answers will not be as intuitive to applicants and may require them to practice memorizing responses in preparation for the exam.
According to USCIS, the new exam will no longer have a geography section because these questions “were not sufficiently tied to the statutory standard”.
Joseph Edlow, the USCIS deputy director for policy, claims that the new citizenship test will help prepare immigrants “to become fully vested members of American society.”
For now, there are no changes to the English portion of the naturalization civics test.
With the new civics test, an applicant will need to prepare much more for their naturalization interview. Applicants should consult with an immigration attorney.
For more questions on the naturalization process please call Blaskow Legal, PLLC at (703) 879-5910.