U.S. pivots once again on citizenship test for immigrants

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | Citizenship And Naturalization |

Back in December 2020, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it was “updating” the naturalization civics test that had been in place since 2008 for hopeful immigrants to pass and become full citizens of this country.

Instead of 100 possible questions, immigrants would have to study 128. Rather than answering 10 questions during their test, they would have to answer 20. Where before they had to correctly answer at least six, now they would have to correctly answer 12.

But that’s all changed again.

The new administration reverts to the 2008 test almost immediately

On Feb. 2, 2021, the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration System spun everything around, essentially forcing USCIS to revert to the 2008 model of the civics test. Immigrants who filed for naturalization after March 2, 2021, would automatically be given the 2008 test. Those who filed between Dec. 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021, would have the option of which test they’d prefer.

Why immigrants are asked to take a civics test

Many argue that the civics test holds immigrants to a standard that native-born Americans aren’t required to meet. But applicants for naturalization are still expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the basics of U.S. history and its form of government.

In other words, the idea is that nobody should become a naturalized U.S. citizen without committing some time to understanding the fundamentals upon which this nation was built. Given that many immigrants speak English as a second language (ESL), what might seem simple to a native-born resident of the U.S. can be very difficult, indeed.

If you’re seeking naturalization or are just beginning your immigration journey to the United States, don’t try to navigate the constantly shifting immigration sands on your own. Working with an experienced immigration attorney is wise.