What Changes Have Been Made to the Citizenship Test?

December 28, 2020

When most people think about the immigration process, they often think of the citizenship test. The citizenship test is an oral test given to those looking to gain citizenship in the United States. The questions often discuss American history and the political system to determine how well a potential citizen knows America. However, those interested in becoming a citizen should note that the Trump administration has recently revised the citizenship test. This new test is even more difficult than former versions.

The former version of this test had immigrants study 100 questions. During the interview, a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer asks the individual 10 out of the 100 questions provided. The individual would need to get six out of the 10 correct in order to pass the test. The newest version of the test requires the officer to ask the individual 20 questions from a list of 128. In order to pass, the individual must get at least 12 of the answers correct. This version of the test already went into effect on December 1, 2020.

Experts also found that although 40 out of the 128 questions are the same, the rest have been changed or even re-worded. Many believe that this could impact the passing rate for those taking the test. In fact, some questions were revised to be even more difficult than before. Many of those interested in naturalization find this unfair, especially because a 2018 study by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only one in three Americans could pass the same civics test.

This new test puts an even bigger strain on immigrants looking to become citizens. Unfortunately, immigrants interested in becoming a citizen through naturalization are only allowed to take the citizenship test twice, unless they pay a $650 fee and file an appeal. Otherwise, the individual’s request for naturalization is declined. Receiving a denial is devastating for those who are dealing with the challenging and stressful immigration process.

What Role Does the Citizenship Test Play in the Immigration Process?

Many immigrants believe that the citizenship test is a glimmer of hope. This is because the individual likely already faced a multitude of obstacles related to the immigration process. These obstacles include a variety of paperwork, biometrics appointments, and interviews.

Those interested in naturalization should first determine if they are already a citizen. If they are not, they should determine their eligibility for citizenship. Many are eligible if they are 18 years old, have been a citizen of the U.S. for at least five years, and have physically lived in the U.S. for two and a half years. Once they have determined if they are eligible, they should file a N-400 Application for Naturalization and submit it. After filing their Application for Naturalization, they must go to a biometrics appointment and get photographed and fingerprinted in order to receive a background check. This will ultimately determine whether the individual is in good moral standing to become a citizen.

Next, they will go to an interview and discuss their Application for Naturalization. At this step, eligible individuals can file a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions if they believe they are exempt from the citizenship test due to disability. If they are not exempt, those interested in naturalization must take both an English and civics test. The English test determines their ability to read, write, and speak in English, while the civics test determines their understanding of American politics and history.

Those who fail the test can take the test again in 60 to 90 days. If they fail once more, they can file an appeal and pay a fee. Once the USCIS receives all necessary documentation, the individual will either receive an approval or denial of their application. If they receive a denial, the individual can request a hearing to appeal.

Many of these steps take months or even years to complete. It is also important to note that the civics test is typically one of the last steps in the naturalization process. This means that if the individual fails their test, they will have already spent time and money in an effort to become a citizen. This further proves that the newest changes to the citizenship test only hinder one’s ability to become a citizen.

What Do I Do If I Need Help During the Immigration Process?

Becoming a citizen is often a long and grueling process. It is also very tedious and requires a lot of time and paperwork. This might be especially difficult for those who have a hard time understanding the English language. Those who need help during this difficult process should contact a citizenship lawyer who can help provide support during this difficult journey. Even more importantly, a lawyer can help determine what steps an individual is exempt from, file an appeal if they are denied naturalization, and ultimately help speed up and simplify the long process of becoming a citizen of the U.S.

Philadelphia Citizenship Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Those Looking for Citizenship in the United States

If you want to go through the immigration process to become a citizen of the United States, contact a Philadelphia citizenship lawyer at the MC Law Group, LLC. Our lawyers know that the immigration process is often long and challenging. We are here to help those interested in citizenship by preparing essential paperwork, representing them in court, and explaining the process, including the citizenship test. Contact us online or call us at 215-496-0690 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.