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USCIS Reverts Back to the 2008 Civics Test

By Patricia Elizee, Esq.

On February 22, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they would be reimplementing the 2008 version of the naturalization civics test. Thus, foregoing the recently revised version that was set in place by the Trump administration on December 1, 2020.

The Biden Administration believes that the amended version that was set in place this past December created barriers making it difficult for those who want to become U.S citizens. The naturalization test was revised in 2020 as a way to make sure that future citizens have an understanding of civic engagement in this country. This was done by adding eighty-eight new questions all with the emphasis on civics.

The Civics test was originally created to enhance national uniformity across jurisdictions in the naturalization process. In the 19th and early 20th century naturalization was completed orally with a judge in the court room. There were no set of formal questions, so judges asked questions at their own discretion. Questions were asked about government, duties of citizenship, and American history.

In the 1930’s Immigrations and Naturalization Services (INS) worked to remove “trick” questions so that applicants would only be tested on their knowledge of the Constitution. After 1950 knowledge on U.S history and civics became a crucial requirement for naturalization. Later educational services and programs were developed to help individuals prepare for the test. This way future citizens would know what to expect for the test and naturalization process as a whole.

The 2008 version of the citizenship test was consolidated over many years with the help of experts from various fields that consisted of over 150 organizations. These experts ranged in titles such as; language experts, educators, and historians. The 2020 revision was overseen mostly by those who had expertise in adult education. This revision began in July of 2018, but the process was made known to the public in July of 2019.

To pass the Civics test an applicant must get at least 60 % of the questions correct. The 2008 Civics test is an oral test presented by a USCIS officer asking up to ten questions from the list of 100 civic questions. One must answer six out of the ten questions correctly. The 2020 Civics test is done orally with an USCIS officers asking 20 questions from the list of 128 civic test questions. Twelve out of twenty of the answers given must be correct.

According to USCIS those who took the 2008 civics tests since its implementation in 2009 to December of 2020 had a passing rate of 91%. By reverting to the 2008 version USCIS believes that the test will be more accessible and more comprehensive for those who are seeking U.S citizenship. By keeping a version of the test that has been proven to have a high passing rate more individuals will be encouraged to apply for citizenship and follow through with the naturalization process.

Those who apply for naturalization between December 1,2020 and March 1, 2021 will have the option to either take the 2020 civics test or 2008 civics test. This is due to the fact that many people have already started studying for the 2020 version. Until the 2020 version is completely dismantled both versions will be offered. The 2020 test will be discontinued starting April 19,2021. Moving forward, the 2008 version will be the only version available for future naturalized American citizens.

If you have any questions regarding your immigration status or becoming a U.S citizen make sure to reach out to the Elizee Law Firm, we can help you navigate through the process!

Patricia Elizee is the managing partner of the Elizee Law Firm. The firm focuses on immigration and family law cases. It is located at 1110 Brickell Avenue, Suite 315, Miami, Florida 33131. Ms. Elizee can be reached at Ph: 305-371-8846.


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