WASHINGTON, February 22, 2021 – Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it was reversing a controversial civics test that the Trump administration put in place just weeks before it left office. The 2020 civics test was condemned by advocates as a ploy to keep citizenship out of reach for those with limited English proficiency, was criticized for being formulated with limited community and expert input, as well as for featuring inaccurate questions and answers. One such question indicated that members of Congress only represent citizens and not the entirety of their districts, including undocumented people or immigrants of other statuses.
“We applaud the administration for taking swift action and encourage the millions of eligible immigrants to apply for citizenship, for themselves, their families, and for important economic and health benefits for which they are also eligible,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps that the Biden administration has pledged to take towards streamlining the naturalization process for those who face barriers like language and high processing fees.”
The adjustment, which will return the civics test to the previous version that dates from 2008, will become effective Mar. 1, 2021. Citizenship applicants who applied between Dec. 1, 2020, and Mar. 1, 2021, and are scheduled for an interview before April 19, 2021, can choose which version of the test they prefer to take — the standard from 2008 or the Trump administration’s version.
This course correction on the citizenship exam is the first of several important changes by the new administration to reverse the President Donald Trump’s punitive policies; others include scraping proposed hikes to citizenship application fees. The rule, proposed by the Trump administration in Nov. 2019, would have increased citizenship fees from $640 to $1,170; several federal courts blocked this increase from going into effect. NPNA has called for the administration to reverse the previous administration’s multiple attacks; reduce the backlog – currently at near a million citizenship applications; and proactively work to naturalize two million new citizens by the end of 2022.
NPNA has grown to include 37 organizations that build power in immigrant communities and shape the conversation on immigrant integration at the local, state, and federal levels. https://partnershipfornewamericans.org/