Each year, America accepts more immigrants than anywhere else in the world. In Fiscal Year 2018, USCIS naturalized about 757,000 people–a five-year high. As of last week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it will be revising the current naturalization test. The USCIS says the goal is to create a “meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values.”
USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, of the plan to update the test, said, “Granting U. S. citizenship is the highest honor our nation bestows. Updating, maintaining, and improving a test that is current and relevant is our responsibility as an agency in order to help potential new citizens fully understand the meaning of U.S. citizenship and the values that unite all Americans.”
The civics requirements for naturalization will largely stay unchanged. Section 312 of the Immigration and Nationality Act outlines such requirements. According the Section 312, candidates for naturalization must have: “…an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language…” and “…knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, and of the principles and form of government, of the United States…”
In December 2018, USCIS formed a naturalization test revision working group with members of the agency. The group, on top of reviewing and updating the test questions, may also change certain requirements of the speaking portion of the test. To ensure the process’ transparency, the USCIS is incorporating the input of experts in adult education.
This spring, the former USCIS director signed the Revision of the Naturalization Civics Test Memorandum, which announced the test revision and formalized a decennial revision schedule of the naturalization test. Once the pilot test is created and carefully analyzed for optimal efficiency and officers are thoroughly trained, USCIS will set an implementation date in December 2020 or early 2021. The USCIS may roll out the pilot test this fall. Currently, the USCIS reports a national pass rate of 90% for the citizenship test.
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