If you’re applying for citizenship after December 1, 2020, the civics test required for naturalization just got longer and harder. On the way out the door, the Trump administration has expanded the text and now requires prospective citizens to answer more questions correctly.
Quick facts: changes to the test
The previous version of the test required answering six out of 10 questions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) naturalization interview. The study guide listed 100 potential questions. Here are some key changes:
- The new study guide now contains 128 potential questions.
- Prospective citizens now must answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly to pass the test.
- This keeps the ratio the same – 60% correct answers – but doubles the number of required correct answers.
These changes were announced by USCIS on November 13, 2020. The new test will be required for all individuals who sent in their applications on or after December 1.
Why were the changes made?
When officials were asked why these updates were needed in the waning days of the Trump administration, they said that they just wanted the test to be fair, current, and relevant. They noted that offering a fair chance to all applicants was at the heart of their decision, which they had been working toward for two years. This is, of course, hogwash. As the last gasp in attacking foreign nationals, the Trump administration took one last chance to limit opportunities for noncitizens to attain the American Dream – U.S. citizenship.
Is this fair?
Critics of the new test have been harsh in their assessment. Despite the government’s insistence that this was done in the name of fairness, some experts say that the changes were neither necessary nor justified. The claim that the new test is too complex, which could make it harder for non-English speakers, and that it is “shamelessly ideological.”
The good news
Critics have also noted that the Biden administration can simply eliminate these changes to the test. As the New York Times stated, “President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has the option of reversing the changes, though that likely could not occur, if at all, until several months into the new year.”
If you have any questions about your eligibility for naturalization, we are happy to speak with you. Our offices are open, and we are also scheduling in-person, phone, and video consultations. Visit us online or call us at (404) 850-9394.
Marshall Cohen is one of the founding principals of Antonini & Cohen. Admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1989, he has practiced immigration law exclusively for over 30 years. Mr. Cohen practices all areas of immigration law including family and employment cases, temporary and permanent visas, naturalization, deportation defense, and federal litigation.