Atlanta’s Best Immigration Attorneys

Atlanta’s Best Immigration Attorneys

U.S. citizenship tests to change, could become more difficult

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Immigration Law

A naturalization test is one of the last parts of the U.S. citizenship process. The test comprises two sections: a civics section designed to determine how much the applicant understands about American history and government and an English proficiency section.

The Trump administration made the test longer and more complex, but the Biden administration fortunately restored it to its previous version. However, authorities have announced that the test will be updated next year, and the changes could make it more challenging.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggested that the updated version of the naturalization test add a new speaking section. The USCIS officer in charge of testing would show the applicant photos of everyday scenarios and ask the applicant to describe the situations depicted. This would replace a similar portion of the current version of the test, where the officer evaluates the applicant’s speaking ability by asking personal questions that the applicant had already answered in the written part of the test.

Some have expressed concerns that this change could be difficult for some applicants to accomplish, especially if they have limited command of the English language. Others have also added that speaking to a USCIS officer can be an intimidating experience.

The immigration agency also proposed changing the civics section to multiple-choice instead of a short-answer format. Critics have warned that switching to a multiple-choice format could make the test more difficult because it would require applicants to have a more extensive knowledge base.

The test is still one part of the naturalization process

While the naturalization test could be more challenging to answer next year, it’s still a single part of the process. Individuals looking to undergo naturalization still need to apply to start the process, have their biometrics taken and undergo FBI name checks.

But even if an applicant accomplishes all these requirements, USCIS still has the final say on whether the application gets approved.

Appealing a denied application

If USCIS denies a naturalization application, the applicant can request a hearing within 30 days of receiving notice of the denial. The agency will schedule a hearing within 180 days of receiving the appeal, and it will be conducted by a USCIS officer other than the one who administered the applicant’s test.

It might be helpful for the applicant to work with an attorney for their naturalization. An attorney can help the applicant fill out any necessary forms, inform them of any legal issues that could complicate their citizenship, review any documents they receive to ensure they miss nothing and help appeal denied applications.