USCIS has announced that changes to the naturalization exam are coming in December of 2020 to early 2021. During May of this year, the former director of USCIS, Francis Cissna, called for a decennial revision of the naturalization exam, meaning that every 10-years the naturalization exam is subject to revision by USCIS to accurately “assess an applicant’s knowledge and understanding of U.S. civics.”
Section 312 of the INA requires naturalization applicants to pass an English language and civics examination as part of the naturalization process. As part of this examination, applicants must demonstrate “…an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language…” and demonstrate “…knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States.”
During the civics examination, applicants are asked up to 10 of 100 possible questions. Applicants must answer 6 questions correctly to pass the civics examination. If you have a physical or mental impairment you may seek a waiver to satisfy this requirement.
In addition, applicants who have been residing in the U.S. subsequent to a lawful admission for permanent residence for at least 20 years and are over the age of 65 are afforded special consideration in satisfying the civics examination requirement.
What do the changes entail?
USCIS will be updating the questions on the naturalization civics examination and is proposing potential changes to the speaking test.
According to USCIS, any revisions to the naturalization examination must be reasonable.
This test revision will continue to comply with the statutory requirement providing special consideration to applicants who are over age 65 and have been living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for periods totaling at least 20 years at the time of filing their application for naturalization.
Special consideration will also continue to be given to applicant’s based on their education, background, age, length of residence in the US, opportunities available, and efforts made to acquire the requisite knowledge, and any other elements or factors relevant to an appraisal of the adequacy of the applicant’s knowledge and understanding.