The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced that it would revise the naturalization civics test. President Trump introduced the new test and started it on March 1, 2021. He expanded the test with additional topics and questions. So, that applicants desiring US Citizenship would need to take the revised test. The passing score of the test would remain the same. The civics test assesses the applicant’s knowledge of The Unites States history. As well as, government procedures. They give one part of the test orally during the interview, as a final stage process to acquire US Citizenship.
What is different about the new expanded civics test for naturalization applicants?
Firstly, this test is longer. Applicants will have to answer 128 questions instead of the 100 questions answered previously. The number of questions in the interview process has also increased. Before they asked applicants 10 questions, out of which they had to answer 6 correctly. In the new version, they ask them 20 questions, out of which they need to answer 12 correctly. The interviewing officers will also be asking all 20 questions, even if the applicant has answered 12 questions correctly.
For example, a question asked in the previous test would be to perhaps ask the applicant to name one branch of the federal government. In the new version of the naturalization test, they expanded this question. Now they ask the applicant to name all three branches of the US government.
Applicants who have applied for US Citizenship before December 1, 2020, can take the current version of the test. But all applicants that have applied for naturalization or will apply after December 1, 2020, have to take the new revised version of the test.
If applicants fail to clear the test the first and the second time, they must re-start the entire naturalization process by filling out a new N-400 form and pay the filing fees once again.
Reasons for USCIS Updating Civics Test
The USCIS has claimed that the reason for introducing a new expanded civics test for naturalization applicants is to keep the citizenship and immigration assessment as “current and relevant” as possible.
A statement made by Joseph Edlow, the deputy director of policy at USCIS, stated that the USCIS has been working hard to revise the civics test for naturalization applicants since 2018. He said naturalization meant allowing immigrants to blend into American society. And availing similar responsibilities normally attained at birth. The USCIS gives a high level of importance to the steps that prepare naturalization applicants for such rights.
Critics of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies critiqued these steps, stating that it would become much harder for immigrants to acquire citizenship. Immigration policy expert Doug Rand called out the new test as being overly complex, shamelessly ideological, and unnecessary. Rand called these newly expanded civics to test another added obstacle for immigrants that were legally eligible to attain US citizenship. He said Joe Biden’s administration should restore the current test immediately.
A member of the policy council for the American Immigration Council, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, stated that there was absolutely no reason to make the citizenship test longer and much more difficult. He said this was an unnecessary step and would lead to greater backlogs and delays in the entire process.
Exceptions to the new expanded civics test rules apply to immigrants aged 65 and above. And, have lived in the US for at least 20 years and hold a green card. The exception is that such applicants will receive a simplified version of the test. They ask them to study for 20 questions instead of 128 in the test. During the interview process, they ask them 10 questions, out of which they have to answer 6 correctly.
What Kind of Questions to Expect During the Oral Test?
Questions in the New expanded civics test for Naturalization applicants that will be asked orally will include questions like:
- Why is it so important to pay federal taxes?
- How many years is the US President elected for?
- Name an American-Indian tribe in the United States?
- What is the reason the American flag has 50 stars?
- What was the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation?
Are the English Language Requirements Changed?
The USCIS is not changing English language requirements that are needed to pass the test. You will still require basic English-speaking skills to be able to hold a conversation with the testing official. The adjudicator may start by asking you general questions about the weather or traffic to test your basic understanding of the language. Then require you to read and understand basic English to pass the written test. And, they will ask you to create sentences using words from a list of 100 given words. You will need to study these words previously and know how you can form them into eligible sentences.
If you are an applicant that has filed for citizenship before December 1, 2020, keep in mind that the new expanded civics test for Naturalization applicants does not apply for you. There are chances the officer interviewing you can accidentally give you the new test anyway. To avoid this misunderstanding, it’s always a good idea to take a pdf that states the updated rules of the civics test applicable to naturalization applicants. To highlight the portion stating that the new test is not applicable to candidates who applied before December 1, 2020.