United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is rolling back a Trump era initiative that substantially changed the Naturalization Civics Test.
USCIS implemented a new edition of the test on Dec. 1, 2020 as one of many Trump administration policies pertaining to naturalization. However, the organization announced earlier this week it was reverting to the 2008 version of the test. Following an internal review, the agency concluded that the Trump era changes would potentially adversely impact candidates otherwise qualified for naturalization.
The agency stated that “the development process, content, testing procedures, and implementation schedule may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process.” The change will be effective as of March 1, 2021.
“The 2008 civics test was thoroughly developed over a multi-year period with the input of more than 150 organizations, which included English as a Second Language (ESL) experts, educators, and historians, and was piloted before its implementation,” USCIS wrote in a press release. “USCIS aspires to make the process as accessible as possible.”
Most individuals who filed their naturalization applications on or after Dec. 1, 2020, but before March 1, 2021, will have the choice to take either the 2008 civics test or the 2020 civics test.
“We will also host public engagement and conduct other outreach activities to ensure applicants are familiar with the different features of each test and which version of the civics test an applicant will need to take, based on the filing date (also known as a received date) and initial examination,” the organization wrote in a press release.
Executive order on ‘restoring faith’ in U.S. immigration system
USCIS said the change in the Naturalization Civics Test was prompted by an executive order issued by President Joe Biden in early February aimed at “restoring faith” in the U.S. immigration system.
The order instructed the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive review of recent regulations and policies to ensure they align with the government’s goal of promoting “integration, inclusion and citizenship” during the Biden administration.
Additionally, the order called for an interagency working group to “develop a national strategy to promote naturalization” and revoked a May 2019 memo issued by the Trump administration which required family sponsors to repay the government if a relative received public benefits.
“President Biden’s strategy is centered on the basic premise that our country is safer, stronger, and more prosperous with a fair, safe and orderly immigration system that welcomes immigrants, keeps families together, and allows people — both newly arrived immigrants and people who have lived here for generations — to more fully contribute to our country,” a press release from the White House about the order read.