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Revised citizenship test doubles the number of questions

Passing a civics test is a rite of passage for immigrants who are seeking to become U.S. citizens. However, this pathway on the road to citizenship just got a bit longer.

To pass the test, applicants must answer at least 12 of 20 questions correctly. Previously, passage only required applicants to answer six of 10 questions correctly. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) pulls these questions from a pool of 128 questions covering U.S. government and history. Before these changes, this pool consisted of only 100 questions. The civics test is in addition to another test that measures an applicant’s ability to read, write, and speak basic English.

Will this make the pathway to citizenship more difficult?

It’s too early to tell whether these changes to the civics test will have a measurable impact on citizenship numbers. Most people believe that the test has become somewhat more difficult. After all, studying 100 questions is presumably easier than studying 128.

Also, some of the new questions are less straightforward than the old ones. For example, answering, “Why is the electoral college important?” requires a level of nuance that simply naming the three branches of government does not. In fact, natural-born citizens can have difficulty answering straightforward questions found on the test, as Alabama senator-elect Tommy Tuberville recently found out.

There are some exceptions to the civics test for people of a certain age. Immigrants who are 65 or older and have lived in the U.S. as green card holders for at least 20 years will only be required to study 20 potential questions. They must answer six of 10 correctly to pass.

There have been numerous changes to immigration laws in recent years, many of which have put additional hurdles in the path of would-be citizens. Working with a skilled immigration law professional can help you better navigate this process as you put in the effort to become a U.S. citizen.