Becoming a citizen of the United States has gotten harder and the trend promises to continue with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) unveiling of a new test for naturalized citizenship.
Passing the naturalization test is the final requirement for permanent residents (also known as green card holders) to become US citizens. The test is taken orally during the naturalization interview as one of the final stages of the citizenship process.
This new test is drawn from 128 American history and government questions. Previously, there was a pool of 100 questions to draw from. Certain questions have been reworded and other questions will require more explanation.
For example, a question that had previously asked, “There were 13 original states, name three,” is now, “There were 13 original states. Name five.”
Another question, “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?” is now, “What are three rights of everyone living in the United States?”
Additionally, applicants must answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly to pass. Previously, applicants needed to answer six out of 10 correctly. Despite the increase of questions, the pass percentage remains the same at 60%.
This is the first time the test has been updated in over a decade. Anyone who applies for naturalization after December 1st, 2020 must take the new version.
These modifications have come under criticism from certain immigration advocates, who state that the questions have been made more difficult without evidence of need for it. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the American Immigration Council, has stated that the questions now have a, “subtle political stance”.
“One question in particular raises concerns of politicization. On the old test, applicants could be asked ‘Who does a U.S. senator represent?’ The suggested answer was ‘all people of the state.’ On the new test, the suggested answer is ‘citizens of their state,’” Reichlin-Melnick stated, adding, “This is not correct. Members of Congress represent everyone who lives within their district, regardless of citizenship status. It’s been that way since the nation was founded.”
The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation compiled a national survey that found that just 1 in 3 Americans would pass the citizenship test. For this reasons, it’s important to have an attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that you get the results you’re looking for the first time.
So far, it is unknown whether or not President-elect Joe Biden will make any revisions to this test once he takes office.