USCIS Plans to Revise Naturalization Test

For the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to approve an application for naturalization (form N-400), the applicant for citizenship generally must first pass a U.S. civics and history test, and demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak English. The USCIS has announced that it is in the process of revising the test, with the stated goal being “… to create a meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values.” The USCIS is also reviewing the speaking portion of the test to determine if additional changes are warranted.

U.S. Civics Test

Currently, during the citizenship test / interview, the USCIS examiner asks the applicant questions from a list of 100 possible questions in three categories: U.S. government, U.S. history, and integrated civics. All possible questions and their respective answers are available to candidates in advance on the USCIS website. Under current rules, the candidate must answer at least six-out-of-ten questions correctly. (Sample questions of the current test are available on MurthyDotCom.)

Purpose of Test Changes

The USCIS notes that it has been ten years since the last revision of the civics test. The USCIS also notes that most standardized tests need to be revised every four-to-five years. In a memorandum to the USCIS Associate Directors and Program Office Chiefs, former USCIS Director Lee Cissna explained that periodic revisions are necessary to uphold the integrity and relevancy of the test. The USCIS promises to re-review the test and re-certify it every ten years.


The USCIS has not provided details regarding the changes it plans to implement. The USCIS expects to run a pilot program of the revised test this fall, and then implement the test nationwide by December 2020 or early 2021. The stated goal is that the test will remain fair, and continue to encourage lawful permanent residents to apply for U.S. citizenship. Still, given the current Administration’s record on immigration issues, there is a fear that the USCIS may attempt to make the test more challenging as a means of reducing the number of people who naturalize successfully.


Copyright © 2019, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.