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USCIS revises naturalization test, making civics portion more difficult

  1. Date Announced

    Nov. 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]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    Dec. 1, 2020
  3. Biden Administration Action

    February 22, 2021

    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.

    Revising Guidance on Naturalization Civics Educational Requirement
Status: Final/Actual
Type of Action: Agency Directive
Subject Matter: Naturalization
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Prior Policies

  • 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

Biden Administration Action

Commentary

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

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

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Politico: Trump's new citizenship test is full of conservative bias and dotted with mistakes

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