Latino Leaders: New, revised civics citizenship exam unfair
A revision of the civics portion of the naturalization exam by USCIS has created “unfair and unnecessary obstacles,” NALEO says.
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“These changes are completely unnecessary, capricious, and nonsensical,” said Arturo Vargas, NALEO’s CEO.
The revised test includes more questions that “test the applicant's understanding of U.S history and civics,” according to a Nov. 13 USCIS press release. Test takers are asked to answer 20 out of 128 civic test questions and must now pass twice as many questions as before — or 12 out of the 20. The passing score remains at 60 percent. All questions are asked orally.
There are no changes to the English portion of the naturalization exam. Test takers must still demonstrate an understanding of the English language by reading, writing, and speaking it.
The change does not apply to 65 and older applicants with at least 20 years of lawful permanent resident status. They still are being asked ten questions and must answer six of them correctly in order to pass.
According to NALEO, “the agency claims that the revisions are needed to ensure that the test continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant’s civics knowledge; however, there is no evidence that the current test does not adequately accomplish this.”
NALEO officials also protested the move by USCIS requiring lawful permanent residents who applied on or after Dec. 1 to take the revised version. Those who applied before Dec. 1 can still take the 2008 version of the test.
NALEO said the process used to revise the exam was rushed. “Naturalization service providers and English- language learner experts were not given sufficient opportunity to review and provide input on the format and additional content.”
But in its press release, USCIS said it “piloted the test with community-based organizations and volunteers across the country in summer 2020. Joseph Edlow, USCIS Deputy Director for Policy, said USCIS has been working on revising the naturalization test since 2018, “relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure the process is fair and transparent.”
In 2018, USCIS approved around 756,800 naturalization applications, according to Politifact. To see the newly revised portion of the naturalization exam and study guides, go to the USCIS Citizenship Resource Center.