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The U.S. citizenship test may soon become more difficult

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Immigration

When immigrants in Florida and around the country apply to become U.S. citizens, they are required to take what is known as the naturalization test. Federal law requires individuals seeking citizenship to be able to communicate in English and have a basic understanding of American history and government, and the naturalization test was introduced to meet this requirement. A revised version of the test is expected to be introduced in late 2024, and immigration advocacy groups say that the proposed changes will make it more difficult for refugees and elderly immigrants to become American citizens. The naturalization test was last updated in 2008.

Proposed changes to the naturalization test

The proposed changes to the naturalization test would introduce a speaking section to measure English skills. Individuals seeking citizenship would be shown photographs and asked to describe what they depicted. English skills are currently assessed during interviews. Immigration authorities also plan to introduce a multiple-choice history and civics evaluation to replace the current oral short-answer test.

Most pass the naturalization test

The proposed changes to the naturalization test would still require individuals seeking U.S. citizenship to answer only six out of 10 questions correctly. They would also still be given a list of questions and answers before taking the test. About 96% of the people who take the current test pass it. Some groups including the nonprofit Center for Immigration studies think the test should be made far more challenging. They point out that the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada have far more difficult immigration tests.

Is a naturalization test even needed?

Before an individual is granted U.S. citizenship, the immigration authorities check their criminal histories and make sure that they pay taxes and support their children. Academics and advocacy groups claim that passing this background check should be all that is required to obtain U.S. citizenship. They say that taking a test that many Americans would struggle to pass is unecessary.