Changes in the U.S. citizenship test goes into effect

Posted at 9:28 PM, Dec 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 10:26:09-05

IDAHO — Immigrants or legal permanent residents looking to become U.S citizens will now have to prepare and study more for the citizenship exam. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made changes to the test going into effect on Dec. 1.

"Every naturalization applicant was required to passed a civic and politics exam. That portion has changed now. There used to be a total of 100 questions. That has expanded now to 128 possible questions," said Chris Christensen, an attorney at law at Christensen Legal in Boise.

Christensen said a passing score of 60 percent is still required.

"The computer randomly selects 20 questions. The applicant still only has to get a 60 percent, meaning 12 out of the 20 correct," he said. "But they are going to require to answer correctly twice as many questions, and this doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The judicator is required to ask the full 20 questions even if the applicant gets the 12 correct. that part seems very inefficient."

There are resources available to help applicants with the new test.

"For the most part, they are taking the exam in English, which generally speaking, is not the immigrant native language. There are some really good study materials available at UCIS website. Those materials include flashcards, the list of the questions."

Christensen said there had been several changes under the current president's administration. He believes it could be difficult for people to become an American citizen.

"Every one of the changes that I've seen in immigration law in the last four years has been to reduce, to limit, to preclude for people coming into this country. The changes to the naturalization exam are exactly the same. They have the same purpose in mind," he said.

In a press release published on Nov. 13, a UCSI official said,

"USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent," said USCIS Deputy Director for Policy Joseph Edlow. "Naturalization allows immigrants to become fully vested members of American society, with the same rights and responsibilities as citizens by birth, and offering a fair test, which prepares naturalization applicants for these responsibilities, is of utmost importance to our agency."