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Updated U.S. citizenship test adds questions, and controversy

Impact On Immigration Citizenship Agency
Posted at 6:16 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-08 18:16:33-05

Those wanting to become U.S. citizens are now taking a new test, one that has twice as many questions as the previous one, and potentially controversial answer choices according to media reports.

Test-takers are now asked to answer 20 questions, from the previous 10; getting 12 correct is needed to pass, the same percentage that was needed on the previous test. However, the new test requires test-takers to give some answer for all 20 questions, the previous rules only required that a test-taker get 6 correct and the officer could stop asking questions once a person got 6.

Some immigration and naturalization experts worry the length change could reduce the efficiency of the citizenship application process, which has been struggling to keep up with a backlog according to FOX News.

“The administration is adding hundreds of thousands of more minutes to these naturalization exams,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute told FOX News.

The new test, which started being given on December 1, 2020, does away with geographical questions, in addition to other changes, like having to name all three branches of government instead of just one, or knowing biographical details about Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and Dwight Eisenhower. The questions come from 128 potential civics-related topics, according to Politico.

One change getting some attention is the verbiage of two answers. The previous answer to the question about whom U.S. Senators represent was “all people of the state.” Now, the official study guide says the only approved answer is “citizens of their state.” Similarly, the answer to a question about who a Representative represents was changed to be “citizens in their district.”

The exams are given orally, so it is not clear if every U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officer giving the test will require the word “citizen” instead of “all people.”

Of the possible questions, several include the Federalist Papers as a possible answer, while three are about women’s suffrage and two are about the civil rights movement.

Taking the citizenship test happens at the end of a months-or-years-long application process, after a person has lived legally in the country for more than five years.