Good news to start this Monday morning as USCIS announced that it is reverting back to its 2008 version of the naturalization civics test, departing from its December 2020 implementation of a revised naturalization civics test. The newer version of the civics test purported to increase the number of potential questions from 100 to 128, the number of questions asked during the exam from 10 to 20, and the number of correct answers needed to pass from 6 to 12 (although the pass score of 60% remained unchanged). The move was widely criticized, with many (likely correctly) alleging that the true intent was merely to throw up additional barriers to the naturalization process. USCIS reverting back to its previous policy is welcome and hopefully indicative of the return of compassion to the agency.
Copied from USCIS:
WASHINGTON— U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test beginning March 1, 2021.
On Dec. 1, 2020, USCIS implemented a revised naturalization civics test (2020 civics test) as part of a decennial test review and update process. USCIS determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.
The 2008 civics test was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organizations, which included English as a second language experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation. USCIS aspires to make the process as accessible as possible as directed by President Biden’s request to review the process thoroughly.
The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalizing. Applicants must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States. The decision to naturalize demonstrates an investment in and commitment to this country. USCIS is committed to administering a test that is an instrument of civic learning and fosters civic integration as part of the test preparation process.
Applicants who filed their application for naturalization on or after Dec. 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, likely have been studying for the 2020 test; therefore, USCIS will give these applicants the option to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test. There will be a transition period where both tests are being offered. The 2020 test will be phased out on April 19, 2021, for initial test takers. Applicants filing on or after March 1, 2021, will take the 2008 civics test.
The test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website. USCIS has also updated the Policy Manual (PDF, 444.11 KB) accordingly; see Volume 12, Part E, English and Civics Testing and Exceptions, Chapter 2, English and Civics Testing.
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