Major New Change Coming To US Citizenship Test

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

( – The announcement of recent modifications to the U.S. citizenship examination has led to rising concerns among immigrant communities and their advocates. These concerns are especially pertinent for those individuals whose mastery over the English language is not particularly high. The process of acquiring U.S. citizenship is multifaceted, involving a sequence of crucial steps. Among these steps is the obligation to pass the naturalization test – an assessment designed to test an applicant’s knowledge about U.S. government, history, and proficiency in the English language. Moreover, the individual is required to hold legal permanent residency status in the United States before commencing the citizenship application process.

The administration under the former Republican President, Donald Trump, implemented a series of significant adjustments to the citizenship examination in 2020. These modifications were perceived by many as an attempt to heighten the test’s difficulty, thus making the path to citizenship more challenging for aspiring candidates. However, a shift in policy was observed when President Joe Biden, after assuming office, enacted an executive order. The primary aim of this directive was to dismantle numerous obstacles that potential citizens faced on their journey to U.S. citizenship.

Biden’s executive order led to the reinstatement of the older version of the citizenship test, which was last updated in 2008. This move was seen by many as a relief, considering the perceived increase in difficulty brought about by the changes implemented during the Trump administration.

In December, a statement from the U.S. authorities signaled the upcoming overhaul of the citizenship exam. They justified this forthcoming update by noting that the current version has been in place for 15 years, a considerable length of time considering the dynamic nature of society and governance. They also provided a timeline for the release of the new version of the test, expected to be rolled out towards the end of the following year.

Adding a new dimension to the updated exam, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has proposed the integration of a speaking component. This segment of the test is designed to more accurately gauge an applicant’s verbal communication skills, an essential factor for assimilation into U.S. society. The speaking component would involve an officer presenting the test taker with various images representing everyday scenarios. The test taker would then be tasked with verbally describing the activities happening in each image, providing the USCIS with a reliable metric of their verbal communication abilities.

Under the current exam format, the applicant’s speaking abilities are evaluated solely during the naturalization interview. This interview involves the immigration officer asking the candidate a series of questions based on the responses provided in the written naturalization test. However, with the proposed changes, USCIS hopes to build a more rounded evaluation of an individual’s proficiency in spoken English.

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