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Changes to U.S. citizenship may make it harder to pass

Posted at 6:51 PM, Nov 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 21:51:09-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — More than 9,000 lawful permanent residents were naturalized last year in Nevada.

For them to become U.S. citizens, they had to go through a couple of steps, which included studying for their English and Civics tests, once their application was been approved.

However, new applicants could have a harder time getting approved, after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised its oral civics tests.

Currently, a 2008 version of the exam is being used, which consists of 100 questions to study. Applicants have to answer 6 out of 10 correctly. The 2020 version now has 128 questions, where 12 out of 20 must be answered correctly.

Michael Shamoon, from the UNLV Immigration Clinic, says that now immigration officers will ask the 20 questions, without telling applicants if they have passed or not until they finish all 20 questions.

In the past, once an applicant correctly answered 6 questions, the exam ended and they were told they passed.

Shamon says this new way of asking the questions may have a negative impact on the number of applicants that end up passing the exam and become US citizens.

"The chances of you making a mistake are increased, even though you only need to answer 60 percent correct. And the fact that the questions are more significantly harder also increases the chances that you will miss a few questions on the test. It can be a pretty stressful experience, applicants are already nervous, they worry that they're going to answer a question incorrectly. And when they're there in the middle of the moment, they usually lose track of how many questions they got right, “ says Shamoon.

The USCIS Deputy Director said in a statement that the “USCIS has diligently worked on revising the naturalization test since 2018, relying on input from experts in the field of adult education to ensure that this process is fair and transparent,”

Even with the current civics test, many Americans who have attempted to try it, have failed. This scenario may repeat itself again with the 2020 version

"If most American citizens who were born here can't pass the test, it doesn't make sense that those trying to become US citizens should have to pass that test, it’s almost counterintuitive"

The fee for the naturalization process has also been increased significantly but is not currently in place yet, due to legal battles that are currently taking place.

Since processing the naturalization applications takes time, the new civics questions would start being asked next year.

Do you think you could pass the test? Here are the links to the questions and answers of both versions of the test:

2008 version: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/questions-and-answers/100q.pdf

2020 version: https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/document/crc/128%20Civics%20Questions%20and%20Answers%20%282020%20version%29.pdf