The Trump Administration has changed the naturalization test, making it more difficult to pass, changing answers to previous questions in politically questionable ways, and increasing the burden on applicants.
Trump also changed how USCIS decides whether to approve or deny a naturalization application, again further restricting the ability of persons to become U.S. citizens.
Such changes come as no surprise from Mr. Trump, who will need to vacate the White House on January 20, 2021. We eagerly await his departure.
The changes to the naturalization test will affect all persons whose naturalization applications are filed with USCIS on or after December 1, 2020. The changes will not affect persons whose applications were filed before December 1, 2020.
The new test has 128 questions (instead of 100) to study. At the naturalization interview, the officer will ask a total of 20 questions chosen at random (instead of 10), and the applicant must answer at least 12 correctly (instead of 6). And, apparently, the USCIS officer will not stop the questioning once the applicant obtains a sufficient number of correct answers, but instead is supposed to go through all 20 questions.
The new list of questions includes some insidious changes. For example, the question “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” which had the correct answer of “all people of the state,” has been replaced with the following answer: “citizens of their state.” This change tracks the Trump Administration’s assault on noncitizens. Trump is trying to exclude undocumented persons from the 2020 census count, despite the fact that the census is to count all persons in the United States, regardless of status.
Another example of Trump’s politicization of the naturalization process is a new question: “Why is the Electoral College important?” One of the authorized answers is: “It provides a compromise between the popular election of the president and congressional selection.” This answer makes no sense, and appears to be an attempt to inject politics into the naturalization process.
In addition to changes in the naturalization test, USCIS recently updated its policies to include a very long list of reasons to deny an application based on the applicant’s immigration history, including innocent errors committed by U.S. immigration officials in approving an applicant’s previous application, even if that U.S. government error occurred many decades ago.
The naturalization changes fit into a pattern we have grown accustomed to seeing from the Trump Administration: change as many things as possible to make things more difficult for noncitizens.
We look forward to a brighter future beginning January 20, 2021.