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Revised U.S. Citizenship Test Harder for Immigrants

Immigration U.S. naturalization and citizenship civics test

On November 13, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes to the U.S. citizenship test that lawful permanent residents must pass to naturalize as U.S. citizens. The revisions have increased the number of questions from 100 to 128. Immigrants will be tested on 20 of the questions and must answer 12 correctly, up from six out of ten.

The U.S. Citizenship Test

Permanent residents must take the naturalization test to become U.S. citizens. It is in two parts – the English test and the civics test. For the English test, the permanent resident must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including the ability to read, write, and speak basic English. The resident’s speaking ability is determined by the interviewing officer. For the reading part, the resident is given three sentences and is required to read one sentence correctly. Similarly, to pass the writing part, the resident must write one out of three sentences correctly. The civics test is oral. A certain number of questions must be answered correctly to clear the test and qualify for naturalization.

Revisions to the Civics Test

The citizenship test was last updated in 2008, prior to the 2020 revision. Applicants who filed their N-400, Application for Naturalization, before December 1, 2020, will be tested on the 2008 version of the civics test; and those who file after December 1, 2020, will be tested from the 2020 version.

Under the revised test, the interviewing officer will ask the permanent resident 20 questions, of which 12 must be answered correctly to pass the test. Previously, six answers out of ten had to be correct. The revised test increases the total number of questions from 100 to 128.

Some of the questions are considered to be harder than on the 2008 version of the test. Applicants previously were asked to identify one of the branches of the government, but they will now be asked to identify all three branches. Previously applicants were asked to identify three of the original 13 states, but they may now be asked to identify five.

The USCIS commented that the new test is intended to ensure that applicants learn more about civics and history than just learning the names, and the revised test accomplishes that. One of the questions in the old test asked “[w]hat do we call the first ten amendments of the constitution?” while the new test asks “[w]hat does the bill of rights protect?”

The revised test can be found in the Civics Test Updates page info. Applicants who fail the civics test will be given an appointment within the next 60 to 90 days for a retest. Applicants will be tested only on the failed component of the test.

To learn more about this blog post or if you have any other immigration concerns, please feel free to contact me at rglahoud@norris-law.com or (484) 544-0022.