U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to Use the 2008 Version of the Naturalization Civics Test

In 2020, the USCIS found that as many as 91% of all immigrants who take the Naturalization Civics Test receive a passing score. The current version of the test has 128 questions on the English language, branches of government, and American history. This test is a comprehensive evaluation of immigrants’ knowledge of citizenship in the United States.

The 2020 Civics Test

The Naturalization Civics Test was revised in 2020 for the first time since 2008. Changes included new questions, rewording of existing questions, and complex question structures that could pose a challenge to non-native English speakers.

For example, questions about geography were replaced with complex language and political philosophy. Historical questions focused on hyper-specific details instead of the big picture.

Critics of the 2020 Naturalization Civics Test argued that changes could increase backlogs that already pose problems for the immigration system. Green card and visa backlogs are a considerable drain on resources, and thousands of immigrants are awaiting a verdict on their case.

The Biden Administration is pushing for immigration reform to happen sooner rather than later. The administration has plans to form teams of immigration agents and government-appointed specialists to provide oversight in the coming months.

Biden Administration’s Plans for Immigration

Under the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, the Biden administration proposes evaluating the current immigration process to determine whether barriers exist to impede access to fair and efficient naturalization.

The executive order discusses the administration’s intent to identify agencies that do not promote access to the immigration systems and build workable strategies to revise those agencies. While these strategies remain mostly hypothetical, the administration will base its final decision on the findings from their investigation of the immigration system.

The goal of the Executive Order is to reform the immigration system in a way that makes it more efficient in an effort to encourage immigrants to pursue naturalization. The Civics Test is the first step of many toward an improved immigration process in the United States.

Test Revisions Under the New Administration

The USCIS released a statement informing immigrants that, as of February 22, 2021 they will revert the test back to the 2008 version in compliance with the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems from President Biden.

The statement says that the “USCIS determined the 2020 civics test development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process.”

Because of this, the USCIS has determined that the 2008 version of the test is a better option for naturalization procedure going forward. This version was the result of many years of research and contributions from over 150 organizations. Contributors included English language experts, historians, and educators. It was piloted before implementation to ensure that it was fair, understandable, and comprehensive.

Immigrants Can Choose Which Test to Take

Many immigrants have been preparing to take the 2020 test, so the USCIS made the decision to allow those who filed for naturalization between December 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021, to choose whether they will take the 2020 or 2008 version of the test. The 2020 version will be officially phased out by April 19, 2021.

Resources

If you are in the process of studying for the Naturalization Civics Test, the USCIS has resources available to help you review. Whether you are taking the 2008 or 2020 version, there are study materials provided for each test that can help you achieve a higher score.

If you have legal questions about your status or the immigration process, contact The Fleischer Law Firm LLC today.

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