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Important News for Those Seeking Naturalization

Posted by Hugo Valverde | Mar 06, 2021 | 0 Comments

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

It was just three short months ago when we wrote about an updated civics exam for naturalization, which was implemented on December 1, 2020. And now, all of that is changing once again. 

On February 22, 2021, the USCIS of President Biden's administration switched course and announced that starting March 1, 2021, it is reverting back to the 2008 version of the naturalization civics exam. 

If you have an upcoming naturalization appointment and have been studying under the previously updated 2020 text practice tests, don't worry. People who filed their naturalization applications on or after Dec. 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, will be given a choice to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test.

It will not be until April 19, 2021 that the 2020-introduced exam will be completely phased out. 

So, what is being changed back?

  • Amount of Study Material:
    • The bank of questions USCIS can pull from is being decreased from 128 questions to 100 questions.
  • Amount of Questions Asked:
  • In the 2020 exam, applicants were asked 20 questions, and a USCIS officer could not stop presenting the questions even after an applicant had gotten the requisite amount correct. Now, USCIS will return to asking 10 questions, but once six are answered correctly, the USCIS officer can stop asking questions. 
  • Amount of Correct Answers Needed:
  • In both the 2020 version and the 2008 version of the exam, a passing score of 60% is necessary to become a citizen. However, because the amount of questions asked was doubled from 10 to 20 in the 2020 version, the amount of required correct answers was doubled from six to twelve. Now, the required amount of correct answers will revert back to six. 

USCIS did not state exactly why they are reverting back to the old version of the exam, except to state that “the 2008 civics test was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organizations, which included English as a second language experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation.”

USCIS did not go so far as to say that the 2020 version was not ‘thoroughly developed,' but very briefly explained that it aspires to make the naturalization process as accessible as possible, as “directed by President Biden's request to review the process thoroughly.” This decision follows President Biden's Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, which directed multiple agencies to specifically review policies in place regarding naturalization. 

If you are interested in becoming a citizen, please visit USCIS's online Citizenship Resource Center, and come talk to one of the attorneys in our office. 

If you would like to have an appointment with one of our immigration attorneys please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.

About the Author

Hugo Valverde

Hugo's passion for immigration law stems from his own family's immigration experience. His father and mother came to the United States from Peru fleeing political persecution, and as he grew up, Hugo spent many summers in Peru. Hugo uses his experience growing up in an immigrant family and time a...


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