USCIS Cancels Change to 128-Question Naturalization Exam Developed in 2020

February 22, 2021 Applicants for naturalized U.S. citizenship who had been studying for the 2020 version of the civics and history exam that USCIS announced it would begin using in 2021 can stop, and study for older, easier version!

By , J.D.


If you're a U.S. green card holder in the process of applying for naturalized U.S. citizenship, and have been studying for the new, 2020 version of the civics and history exam that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced it would begin using in 2021, stop!

The agency has recently reversed course. After President Biden's Executive Order on Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems directed a comprehensive review of the naturalization process to eliminate barriers and make it more accessible, USCIS decided that the new exam did the opposite.

This conclusion is hardly surprising. The 2020 version of the civics test raised the total number of questions one had to study from 100 to 128. It also raised the number of possible questions that applicants needed to correctly answer in order to pass, from six out of 12 to 12 out of 20.

Accordingly, if you filed your naturalization application (Form N-400) on or after December 1, 2020 (when the change was first implemented) but before March 1, 2021, and if you will be scheduled for an initial interview before April 19, 2021, you have a choice to make. Given that you might have already started studying, USCIS says you can elect to take either the old, 2008 civics test or the new (albeit short-lived) 2020 civics test.

In light of USCIS delays, however, few people are likely to receive interviews so soon. Anyone whose initial interview is scheduled on or after April 19, 2021 will have no choice but to take the 2008 civic test. Fortunately, there's a good deal of overlap in the questions, so if you've already been studying, you're probably ahead of the game.

Effective Date: February 22, 2021