Aspiring Americans Face Tougher Citizenship Test

U.S. legal permanent residents on the path to naturalization will now be required to take a longer and more complex citizenship test. The new civics test is drawn from 128 questions test takers must be prepared to answer about American history and government, up from 100 questions previously. Anyone who applies for U.S. naturalization after December 1, 2020, must take FILE- George Washington’s signature is seen on his personal copy of the Acts of the first Congress (1789), containing the U.S. Constitution and the proposed Bill of Rights.Applicants must answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly to pass instead of the previous six out of 10.“But you are asked all 20 questions,” said Nancy Newton, program director of the Citizen Preparation Program at Montgomery College, a public community college in Montgomery County, Maryland.Passing the naturalization test is the final requirement for legal permanent residents, also known as green card holders, to become American citizens. The test is given orally during the naturalization interview, one of the final stages of the citizenship process.Newton told VOA the new test will require greater English proficiency, shifting from a high-beginning level of English to a high-intermediate level. With the assistance of a DHS grant and a partnership with local nonprofits, the Citizen Preparation Program helps about 300 legal permanent residents every year. Legal permanent residents eligible to naturalize spend months studying for the citizenship test.“What we need to ensure is that our learners know exactly what is required of them. And that we prepare them as best we can,” Newton said.FILE – Aisha Kazman Kammawie, of Ankeny, Iowa, takes the oath of allegiance during a drive-thru naturalization ceremony at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa.What’s new? While doubling the number of test questions, USCIS said the passing score will remain at 60%. While many questions have not changed, some have been reworded and others will require additional explanation in the answers.The former test asked, “There were 13 original states, name three.” The revised version says “There were 13 original states. Name five.”Instead of “What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?,” an applicant must answer “What are three rights of everyone living in the United States?”Some immigrant advocates criticized the test, saying some questions have been made more difficult without evidence there was a need for it. The questions have also taken on a “subtle political stance,” wrote Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy counsel at the FILE – High school teacher Natalie O’Brien, center, hands out papers during a civics class called “We the People,” at North Smithfield High School in North Smithfield, Rhode Island.A 2018 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship FoundationFILE – Isabel Ruiz, right, receives a U.S. flag from Supervisory Immigration Services Officer James Fobert after she passed her citizenship interview in Newark, N.J.Montgomery College was part of the pilot program, and Newton said applicants agreed the wording of the questions was different but “it wasn’t something that was completely alien to them in terms of English language ability.”“Whilst we may think that the new test is more challenging than the current one, our learners are immigrants [and] have been through so much to get to this stage. There is so much that comes before even getting an application in to become a citizen. We’ll get through this. We’ll get through this together as a community,” Newton said.

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