People seeking U.S. citizenship will now be required to take a longer and more complex test.
The test centers on civics, a study of the rights and duties of citizenship. There are now 128 subjects relating to American history and government for applicants to study before taking the test. There used to be 100 subjects.
The new test requires applicants to answer 20 questions instead of 10. To pass, individuals must answer 12 questions correctly, or 60 percent. This is the same pass rate as before.
The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is known as “naturalization.” Passing the naturalization test is the final requirement for legal permanent residents – also known as green card holders – to become American citizens. A U.S. immigration official asks the applicant the questions during a naturalization interview, one of the final steps in the process.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that administers the country’s naturalization and immigration system. Last year, it announced it was improving the naturalization test for the first time since 2008. The change became official last week. Anyone applying for U.S. naturalization after December 1, 2020, must take the new test version.
The USCIS’s acting director, Ken Cuccinelli, said in July it was the agency’s responsibility to improve and keep the test current in order to help new citizens “fully understand the meaning of U.S. citizenship and the values that unite all Americans.”
While many questions have not changed, some have been reworded and others will require additional explanation in the answers. For example, the former test asked, “There were 13 original states, name three.” The new version states “There were 13 original states. Name five.”
Instead of “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?,” an applicant must now answer, “What are three rights of everyone living in the United States?”
Some immigrant rights groups have criticized the new test, saying some questions were made more difficult without a clear reason to do so.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick is with the American Immigration Council. He raised concerns that some questions were influenced by politics.