USCIS Announces Return to Original Naturalization Civics Test

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it will return to the earlier version of the civics test used for the Naturalization process (the process by which those who have been permanent residents for a specified time and otherwise meet requirements can apply for US citizenship).  The earlier version has been in effect since 2008.

The agency had on December 1, 2020 implemented a new version of the test for individuals filing N-400 naturalization applications to become US citizens on or after that date.  The new test, implemented by the former administration in an attempt to make the process more difficult and restrictive, made several of the existing questions more complex and added 28 new questions to the existing 100 questions.  Some of the new questions contained abstract concepts likely to be difficult for those with less than perfect English proficiency, although the English portion of the test had not itself changed.

Given the length of the applications process, it is highly unlikely that many, if any individuals who had filed since December 1, 2020 have reached the point of interview and so been subject to the new test that had been implemented by the last administration.  This move by the Biden administration ensures that few ever will.

While the announcement of the change states that those who applied after December 1, 2020 but with interviews scheduled before April 19, 2021 will be given the choice of test, this likely won’t apply to many people – and there would be little reason to chose to take the newer test, even if the applicant had been studying for the newer and more difficult test.