USCIS Rolls Back Trump-Era Civics Test Changes for Naturalization Applicants

On Feb. 22, USCIS announced it is rolling back Trump-era changes to the civics test for naturalization applicants.

The purpose of the civics test is for a naturalization applicant to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States.

As background, on Dec. 1, 2020, USCIS announced changes to the civics test for naturalization applicants. The new test went into effect on December 1, 2020, and applied prospectively to naturalization applications filed on or after that date. The main changes to the test were:

  • The bank of possible civics test questions was increased to 128 (from 100). The number of test questions chosen from the bank for each applicant was increased to 20 (from 10). The passing score remained 60% (now 12 of 20 questions).
  • USCIS would continue to administer 10 test questions (with required 6 correct answers) to applicants who qualify for special consideration because they are age 65 or older and have been lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years.
  • Officers would ask all 20 test items (or 10 to special consideration applicants), even if the applicant achieves a passing score.

The rollback undoes the Trump-era changes, except that in recognition that some applicants have studied for the new test, if an applicant filed between Dec. 1, 2020, and Mar. 1, 2021, and if the interview is scheduled to occur before Apr. 19, 2021, then an applicant can choose to take either test. In no event will an officer continue to ask test items once the applicant has achieved a passing score.

The test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on the USCIS website

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