Joe Biden administration rolls back Donald Trump-era citizenship test, reverts to 2008 version


Washington: The Joe Biden administration has announced the reversal of the stringent Donald Trump-era policy by reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalisation test module to make the path to US citizenship more accessible to all eligible individuals. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Monday that it is reverting to the 2008 version of the naturalisation civics test beginning March 1, 2021.

The previous Trump administration had introduced some changes to the naturalisation civics test, called the 2020 civics test, which increased the number of questions from 100 to 128 and the correct answers in the multiple-choice questions had political and ideological overtones.

Announcing the reversal, the USCIS said the agency has determined that the revised civics test, applicable for individuals who had applied on or after December 1, 2020, “may inadvertently create potential barriers” to the naturalisation process. “This action is consistent with the framework of the Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems, which directs a comprehensive review of the naturalisation process to eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals,” USCIS said in a statement.

“The 2008 civics test was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organisations, which included English as second language experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation. USCIS aspires to make the process as accessible as possible as directed by President Biden’s request to review the process thoroughly,” it said.

The civics test is administered to applicants who apply for US citizenship through naturalisation and is one of the statutory requirements for naturalising. Applicants must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States.

“The decision to naturalise demonstrates an investment in and commitment to this country. USCIS is committed to administering a test that is an instrument of civic learning and fosters civic integration as part of the test preparation process,” the statement said. Applicants who filed their application for naturalisation on or after December 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, likely have been studying for the 2020 test; therefore, USCIS will give these applicants the option to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test, it said.

There will be a transition period where both tests are being offered. The 2020 test will be phased out on April 19, 2021, for initial test takers. Applicants filing on or after March 1, 2021, will take the 2008 civics test, the agency said. 


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