The US citizenship test has been updated and will now feature more questions than ever before. Experts claim that the test will be ‘harder for immigrants’ and will slow down the number of tests that can be held each day. The new-look test is set to launch on December 1, 2020.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the new look test will now have 128 civic items to study and will require US citizenship applicants to answer 20 questions compared to 10 on the previous version of the exam. Applicants will need to answer 12 out of the 20 questions to pass (60%).
Geography questions removed
It’s understood that the new-look test has had geography-related questions removed, with some other questions slightly altered, including a question that now requires applicants to name three branches of the US government compared to one previously.
The answer to the question ‘Who do US Senators represent?” has also been changed from ‘all people of the state’ to ‘citizens in their state’. The new answer to this question has sparked criticism over its accuracy.
Policy analyst at the Washington D.C.-based, nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, Sarah Pierce, said: “The changes to the naturalization test will probably triple the amount each Citizenship and Immigration Services officer spends testing applicants.”
“These changes reduce the efficiency of this already struggling agency. The administration is adding hundreds of thousands of more minutes to these naturalization exams.”
USCIS is already faced with huge backlogs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, the agency was on the brink of having to furlough more than 13,000 staff and faced total collapse due to a lack of funds.
Well-rounded testing experience
A spokesperson for USCIS, Dan Hetlage said: “The new test covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with a more well-rounded testing experience.”
Hetlage went on to say that US citizenship applicants aged 65 and over, who have been living in America legally for a minimum of 20 years, would be given ‘special consideration.’ Hetlage said: “They will be able to study from a smaller number of civics topics and will need to only get six out of 10 questions correct to pass.”
People applying for US citizenship on or after December 1, 2020 will be subject to the new version of the test. The exam is one of the very final steps toward becoming an official American citizen.
The citizenship process takes approximately one month and requires immigrants to have legal permanent residence in the US for at least five years prior to making an application.
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