Beginning on December 1st, 2020, applicants for naturalization will be required to take an expanded civics test at their naturalization interview. The current test requires the applicant to answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass. Applicants study from a list of 100 possible questions. The new test will require the applicant to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly. There will be 128 questions that the applicant will study and USCIS will choose 20 questions out of those 128 possible questions. The applicant will have two chances to pass the test. If the applicant does not answer 12 questions correctly at the first interview, they will be rescheduled for an additional interview where they will get one more opportunity to pass the test. If the applicant does not pass the second time, he or she will have to start the entire naturalization process over by filing a new N-400 form along with new filing fees.
What kind of questions will they ask me during the civics exam at my naturalization interview?
The civics exam is designed to test your knowledge of U.S. government and history topics. Here are some of the questions that might be asked:
- What is the form of government in the United States?
- There are three branches of government. Why?
- The President is elected for how many years?
- What is the highest court in the United States?
- Why is it important to pay federal taxes?
- Name one reason why the Americans declared independence from Britain?
- What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
- Name one American Indian tribe in the United States?
- Why does the flag have 50 stars?
- What is Veteran’s Day?
The adjudicator will ask the questions orally and you will answer orally.
How can I study for the civics exam?
You can find all 128 possible civics questions at the USCIS website here. Every possible question that the adjudicator can ask you is included in the list, along with the possible answers. Some questions have more than one possible answer.
What if I’m 65 or older and I’ve been a lawful permanent resident for more than 20 years?
There is a simplified test for those applicants who are over the age of 65 and have been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years or more. These applicants will only have to study 20 possible questions. You will only be asked 10 of those possible 20 questions and you only have to get 6 of them correct to pass. You can find the list of 20 questions here.
Are they changing the English requirements?
USCIS is not changing the requirements to pass the English portion of the test. You will still have to be able to have a basic conversation in English with the adjudicator, read one line of written English and write one line of English. The adjudicator will engage you in conversation during the interview to make sure you have a basic understanding of English. He or she may ask you about the weather or traffic or some other common thing to talk about to make sure you have an understanding of the English language. You must then read aloud one sentence written in English. You will have three chances with three different English sentences. You only have to read one of them aloud correctly. You must also write one English sentence correctly. You will get three chances to write three different English sentences and you only have to write one of them correctly. The adjudicator will say the sentence out loud and you must write it down in English.
USCIS can only create sentences using words from a list of 100 words. So you will need to study these 100 words and know how to read and write these words in a sentence. For example, the adjudicator may ask you to read the sentence, “Who was the first president of the United States.” He or she then may ask you to write the sentence, “George Washington was the first president of the United States.”
You can find a list of words that USCIS can use to create a sentence for you to read here.
You can find a list of words that USCIS can use to create a sentence for you to write here.
Jeremy Lasnetski is a partner at the Law Offices of Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon. The firm focuses on immigration, criminal defense and personal injury. Mr. Lasnetski focuses his practice on immigration and criminal defense and is the former Jacksonville Regional Vice Chair of the American Immigration Lawyer’s Association, Central Florida Chapter. He has represented clients in deportation proceedings, USCIS benefit cases, consular processing cases, and more. He routinely gives presentations on immigration law issues to both criminal and immigration lawyers at conferences and seminars throughout the State of Florida.