On February 22, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test as of March 1, 2021. Applicants who file for naturalization after March 2, 2021, will take the 2008 version of the test. The USCIS further clarified that this announcement was consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Immigration Legal System released on February 2, 2021. The Order requires agencies to conduct a thorough review of recent regulations, policies, and guidance that have set up barriers to our legal immigration system.
The naturalization civics test goes through a decennial review and update process. On December 21, 2020, the USCIS announced a revised naturalization civics test. This revised test was viewed by many as a far more difficult test, which would result in the failure of many test-takers, thereby, pushing their dreams of naturalization further away.
The civics test is an exam administered to applicants for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. Passing the test is one of the statutory requirements to naturalize. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and forms of government.
Applicants who filed for naturalization during the period from December 1, 2020, through March 1, 2021, must have been preparing for the revised test. The USCIS announced that it will give these applicants the option to take either of the tests. This transition period will continue until April 19, 2021, when the revised test will be phased out for initial test-takers.
Study guides for the test can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website.
The 2008 civics test was developed from the input of members of more than 150 organizations, including English-as-a-second-language experts, educators, and historians. Furthermore, it was piloted before it was implemented.
The 2008 civics test consists of 100 questions for which the applicants prepare, while the revised test consists of 128 questions. Applicants taking the 2008 test are assigned 10 questions and must answer 6 of them correctly to pass. In the December 2020 revision of the test, applicants would be required to answer 12 questions out of 20 correctly. Many immigration advocates were concerned that the revised test would discourage people from seeking citizenship.