On March 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will return to administering the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test. Civics tests are used alongside English examinations to assess applicants’ basic understanding of the English language and knowledge of civics. Each applicant has two opportunities to pass the exams.
USCIS revised the naturalization civics test on December 1, 2020, as part of the decennial test review and update process. Alterations to the exam included changes in content, number of questions, and passing requirements. Over 2000 comments from the public argued that applicants had limited time to adjust to the changes and, consequently, could not sufficiently prepare for the exam.
USCIS ultimately determined that the 2020 civics test may have inadvertently created obstacles to the naturalization process. As a result, USCIS will revert to administering the 2008 civics test to applicants who filed for naturalization before December 1, 2020, or who will file on or after March 1, 2021. In accordance with the recent Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, the policy change is intended to reform and strengthen the current immigration system.
Furthermore, to accommodate naturalization applicants who filed on or after December 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2020, USCIS will offer the option to complete either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test. USCIS plans to phase out the 2020 exam by April 19, 2021, for initial test takers.
According to a USCIS Policy Note dated February 22, 2021:
- USCIS will administer the 2008 civics test to applicants who filed for naturalization before December 1, 2020, or who will file on or after March 1, 2021;
- USCIS will give applicants the choice to either take the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test in cases filed on or after December 1, 2020 and before March 1, 2021, and for which the initial examination (interview) is scheduled to occur before April 19, 2021;
- USCIS will administer the 2008 civics test to all applicants whose initial examination (interview) is scheduled to occur on or after April 19, 2021 (regardless of filing date); and
- USCIS will only ask civics test questions until the applicant passes or fails either the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test.
USCIS provides a list of 100 questions for applicants to study for the 2008 version of the exam. Applicants must answer correctly six out of ten questions to pass the exam. The 2020 version of the exam had raised the number of study questions to 128, and applicants were required to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly to pass the exam.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to and cannot substitute the advice of and representation from a competent immigration attorney.