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U.S. Citizenship Exams Will Undergo Changes

Since 1986, foreigners who qualify for naturalization, the highest benefit provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, have been required to take an examination that gauges their knowledge of American civics as well as their English language ability. This requirement, which is promulgated by Section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, was last revised in 2008, and the administration of President Donald Trump intends to roll out a new set of revisions to be implemented by late 2020.

As announced in a memorandum signed by acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, the revision is part of an effort to review his agency’s policies and procedures in a way that observes standard practices followed by adult education providers, which call for reviewing and updating examinations every seven years. From now on, the citizenship test will be reviewed at least once every decade. In 2018, more than 755,000 individuals became naturalized citizens of the U.S., but not all of them took both civics and English language exams because of special considerations for immigrants who are over the age of 65 or have completed 20 years of lawful permanent residency.

Despite worrisome comments made by President Trump, no other aspects of the naturalization process are expected to undergo revisions at this time. Applicants will still be expected to have lawfully resided at least five years in the U.S. before they’re eligible to take the exams and participate in the naturalization ceremony. The citizenship tests have always attracted a minor degree of controversy because many of the 100 potential questions in the civics section of the exam cannot be easily answered by average Americans who completed their elementary and high school education in the U.S. In other words, the average naturalized citizen knows more about American history and principles of government than natural-born citizens.

In an interview with the Washington Post, USCIS Director Cuccinelli reassured the public that these intended revisions, unlike the failed “Are you a citizen?” question that would have been implemented in the census, don’t stem from ulterior policy motives. In other words, applicants should only be concerned about running into different versions of the exams.

Failure to get a passing score on the English language or civics portion of the exam doesn’t automatically bar applicants from continuing the naturalization process. Each N-400 application grants two opportunities at passing the tests. If both chances are missed, the N-400 must be filed again, along with the application fee. Applicants should check with their immigration attorneys in San Diego regarding the upcoming changes so they can access the correct study guides between now and December 2020. It should be noted that only 10 questions from the 100-question study guide will appear on the civics test, and they’re selected at random. The English language exam has three components to test skills in reading, writing, and oral communications. For the most part, applicants who have attained fluency will have no problem passing the language portion of the citizenship exam.

If you need information on immigration services in San Diego, CA, contact KS Visa Law today. From family-based immigration law to naturalization issues, we can address all your immigration-related needs. Call 858-874-0711 to schedule an appointment.

December 2023