President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Williams Arena in Greenville, N.C., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Trump plans major changes to U.S. citizenship test

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said an updated test will be implemented before the end of Trump's term


Shira Tarlo
July 19, 2019 9:07PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump's administration is planning to revise the civics test that immigrants are required to pass in order to become citizens of the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday.

The agency said it is revising the current naturalization to "ensure it continues to serve as an accurate measure of a naturalization applicant's civic knowledge and that it reflects best practices in adult education assessments."

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USCIS did not offer specific details about the changes to the test, which was last revised in 2008, but said the it wants to update test to "create a meaningful, uniform, and efficient test that will assess applicants' knowledge and understanding of U.S. history, government and values."

A new version of the test will be introduced this fall and implemented before the end of Trump's second term, officials said Friday.

"Granting U. S. citizenship is the highest honor our nation bestows," said USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli, an outspoken immigration hard-liner and former Virginia attorney general whom Trump tapped to head the agency last month. "Updating, maintaining, and improving a test that is current and relevant is our responsibility as an agency in order to help potential new citizens fully understand the meaning of U.S. citizenship and the values that unite all Americans."

Officers who administer the naturalization exam now select as many as 10 questions to ask each applicant in English from a list of 100 questions in three categories: U.S. government, U.S. history and integrated civics, which includes geography, symbols and holidays.

All of the questions and answers for the naturalization test are published on the USCIS's website and are available for all to study. The test is administered orally, and applicants must answer correctly 6 of the 10 questions to pass the civics portion of the naturalization test.

The executive branch has the power to control the test, and with the Trump making it clear that he wants to dramatically reshape the nation's immigration policies and laws, the way the White House attempts to add new questions or alter the test's format is likely to come under scrutiny.

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Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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