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USCIS revises naturalization test, making civics portion more difficult

  1. Original Date Announced

    November 13, 2020

    USCIS revises civics portion of the naturalization test, increasing the number of questions applicants must answer correctly, adding more difficult questions to the question bank, and requiring interviewing officers to ask more questions.

    • Starting December 1, 2020, applicants for U.S. citizenship will have to correctly answer at least 12 of 20 questions posed by interviewing officials.
    • Applicants will need to study a larger number of possible questions. USCIS has increased the number of questions from 100 to 128 and revised existing questions and answers.
    • Interviewing officials must ask all 20 questions, rather than stopping after an applicant has answered enough questions correctly to pass the test.

    The policy alert indicates that the revised, more difficult test will not be administered to applicants who (1) are 65 years old or older; and (2) have been LPRs for at least 20 years. This policy alert bears letterhead indicating that it is issued by the USCIS Office of the Director.

    [ID #1148]

    Civics Educational Requirement for Purposes of Naturalization USCIS - 128 Civics Questions and Answers (2020 version)
  2. Effective Date

    December 1, 2020
  4. Biden Administration Action: Revoked/Replaced

    February 22, 2021

    Revising Guidance on Naturalization Civics Educational Requirement

    This Biden administration policy revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On February 22, 2021, USCIS issued a policy alert providing that USCIS will revert to using the 2008 civics test.

    View Document

Current Status

Not in effect

Most Recent Action

February 22, 2021 Action: Revoked/Replaced Revising Guidance on Naturalization Civics Educational Requirement
February 22, 2021
Acted on by Biden Administration

Original Trump Policy Status

Status: Final/Actual
Trump Administration Action: Agency Directive
Subject Matter: Naturalization
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Pre Trump-Era Policies

  • October 1, 2008

    The current civics portion of the naturalization test has been in use since October 1, 2008. Under the prior policy, applicants for naturalization were required to answer only 6 of 10 questions correctly. Interviewing officials would stop asking questions after an applicant answered enough questions correctly to pass the test. The question bank contained only 100 questions.

    USCIS - 100 Civics Questions and Answers (Prior Version)
  • INA 312


  • MPI - High Stakes, More Meaning: An Overview of the Process of Redesigning the US Citizenship Test (Sept. 2008)

    MPI issued a report in September 2008 analyzing the last revision of the civics portion of the naturalization test.

    Go to article
  • WaPo: Trump officials unveil new U.S. citizenship test, as advocates worry it is too long, difficult and politicized

    Go to article on
  • Politico: Trump's new citizenship test is full of conservative bias and dotted with mistakes

    Go to article on

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