What You Need to Know About the New U.S. Citizenship Test

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You may have heard that the new USCIS Naturalization 2020 Civics Test is longer and harder, but here is what else you need to know.

1. Breaking News: On December 1, 2020, USCIS began administering the new 2020 version of the Civics test for non-exempt naturalization applicants. The prior update to the citizenship test was in 2008.

2. More to Study: The question bank is larger. Previously, applicants were asked civics questions from 100 potential questions. There are now 128 civics questions to study for the exam.

3. More Questions: You will be asked more questions. Previously, applicants were asked 6 to 10 questions. The questions concluded after the applicant answered 6 questions correctly, or at after ten questions were asked, whichever happened first. Now applicants will be asked 20 questions, even if all answers given are correct.

4. More Answers: You need to know more correct answers. Previously, applicants needed to get 6 out of 10 questions correct. Now applicants will need to answer 12 out of 20 questions correctly.

5. More Details. There are changes to the wording of certain questions and answers (ex. Senators represent citizens of that state versus all residents). There are also more detailed questions regarding civics and history. Please review the new 2020 questions and answers before your interview!
Fun tip: Consider listening to Hamilton to learn more about the new Federalist questions.

6. Be Up-to-Date: Remember that your answers need to be correct at the time of your interview. We just had a huge 2020 election. Especially with regards to recently elected officials, please be sure that your answers are current on your interview date.

7. Can You Take the Old Test? Maybe.
If your application for citizenship was filed before December 1, 2020, you will still be able to take the 2008 version of the civics test. Please refer to the below link to USCIS.gov and print this information and bring it with you to your interview.

Naturalization Application Filing Date (also known as a Received Date)Applicable Test at Initial Exam, Re-exam, or N-336
Before Dec. 1, 20202008 version of the civics test
On or after Dec. 1, 20202020 version of the civics test
Graphics from USCIS.gov.

8. English Language Exemptions:
You are exempt from the English language requirement, but are still required to take the civics test (bring a translator to take in your native language) if you are:

  • Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (Green Card holder) in the United States for 20 years   (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).
  • Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).

9. Shorter Test with Age
What if you qualify for the 65 /20 Special Consideration? *
*65 birthdays for you, 20 for your green card
The 65/20 applicants are given special consideration and only have to study 20 designated test questions. For more information about the 65/20 special consideration and other exceptions, see the USCIS Exceptions and Accommodations page.

  • If you qualify for the 65/20 special consideration and are required to take the 2020 version of the civics test based on your application filing or received date on or after Dec. 1, 2020, you will only need to study the civics questions that are marked with an asterisk found at the end of each question. From the list of 128 civics test questions, there are 20 questions that you will need to study under this special consideration. 
  • To pass the 2020 version of the civics test as someone who qualifies for the 65/20 special consideration, the USCIS officer will ask you to answer 10 out of the 20 civics test questions. You must answer at least 6 out of 10 correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.

Do you have questions about this process? Do you want help preparing for this interview? Please contact our office. Schedule time to talk here: Let’s Collaborate.

Be A Voter

One benefit and responsibility of United States Citizenship is the right to vote in national and local elections.
The Presidential election is rapidly approaching. Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020, but we encourage you to vote early. Early voting began October 14 and continues through October 29, 2020. Early voting allows more flexibility in time and may be less crowded (helpful during a pandemic).
Our national and local elections shape your policy. Immigration policy, from length of affirmative filing processes to deportation hearings, are impacted by elections. When you vote, please consider issues that are important to you, and are present long after Election Day.

Key Dates:
Election day is Nov. 3
Registration deadlines
Online: Oct. 5
By mail: Postmarked by Oct. 5
In person: Oct. 5
Absentee ballot deadlines
Request: Received by Oct. 27
Return by mail: Received by Nov. 3 by close of polls
Early voting
Oct. 14 – Oct. 29, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live

I Voted sticker roll, Election Day
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Helpful Sites:

Ballots, Rules and Polling Locations:
National Website: votesaveamerica.com
For more information on each state’s rules and ballots. You will also have the ability to “build-your-own ballot” (choosing eligible candidates who fit with your beliefs) for each listed contest. Note: This website has a Liberal bent, but the information on ballots and rules is accurate and non-partisan.
Local Website: shelbyvote.com
This is a great resource for Shelby County, TN voters to see polling locations and hours. You can also review the ballot before you vote.

Get Involved:

  1. Vote
  2. You can volunteer your time. Some great ways to do so are to serve as a poll worker, help other people safely get to the polls, or volunteer for a campaign that speaks to you. You can be a poll watcher, or you can use your specific training to help your local election committee.
    Note: Non-U.S. Citizens can volunteer their time!
  3. You can donate money to a campaign. Be sure to follow campaign finance laws.
  4. Please share your ways to participate in the democratic process below.

Virginia’s voting experience:
I am a proud voter, and I take my rights and responsibilities as a U.S. Citizen seriously.
I come from a line of poll workers as well. A few years ago, I trained as a poll worker in honor of my grandmother, who was unable to serve that election. The pride I saw in her eyes warmed my heart and has stayed with me. Serving as a poll worker is hard work, but I enjoyed sharing that privilege with my fellow citizens. As a woman, I know that people who look like me have not always been able to vote in this country, and I do not take my right for granted.

This year, I was able to vote early in person. I was so impressed by the heightened protective procedures at the election facility. From clear dividers, to souvenir pens, to wooden styli, and younger poll workers in addition to wonderful veteran workers, it was clear that everyone was appreciating the importance of this election. When you realize how important your vote and voting experience is to these poll workers, it adds to the pride you feel in casting your vote.
Thank you to the poll workers of Glenview Community Center in Memphis for your energy, efficiency, and care!

USCIS Plans Fee Changes

Summary: With expected start date of October 2, 2020.
This final rule adjusts certain immigration and naturalization benefit request fees charged by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It also removes certain fee exemptions, changes fee waiver requirements, alters premium processing time limits, and modifies intercountry adoption processing. USCIS conducted a comprehensive biennial fee review and determined that current fees do not recover the full cost of providing adjudication and naturalization services. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20 percent, adding new fees for certain immigration benefit requests, establishing multiple fees for nonimmigrant worker petitions, and limiting the number of beneficiaries for certain forms. This final rule is intended to ensure that USCIS has the resources it needs to provide adequate service to applicants and petitioners.
Link for details: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/08/03/2020-16389/us-citizenship-and-immigration-services-fee-schedule-and-changes-to-certain-other-immigration

Updates subject to current filing for injunction:
Additional information on court filing available at https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.cand.364673/gov.uscourts.cand.364673.98.0.pdf.

Public Charge Rule: A Chilling Effect for Immigrant Families

I wanted to share this excellent explanation by Rocio Perez about the negative effect of the 2019 Public Charge Rule on immigrant families. This rule also impacts many U.S. citizens with immigrant relatives.

Today's Immigration Policies

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published proposed changes to the public charge rule, a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act, that would drastically impact mixed-status families and individuals seeking legal permanent residency (LPR). The new rule, expected to take effect on October 15, 2019, would include previously excluded healthcare, nutritional, and housing programs such as non-emergency Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Section 8 housing which would expand the considerations in public charge determinations. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency defends the new changes, arguing that they promote “self-sufficiency and personal responsibility,” consistent with American values. However, this statement dismisses the subjective nature of ‘the American Dream’ by oversimplifying and ignoring the myriad complexities of the immigrant experience.

Under current immigration law, ‘public charge is a term used to refer to someone who is dependent on the government for support such as utilizing…

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Immigration in the News

Have questions? Contact us here: https://vstaylorlaw.wordpress.com.

Due to Injunction, USCIS to Apply 1999 Public Charge Rule

July 29, 2020 injunction by the U.S. District Court SDNY to counteract more recent 2019 changes to the treatment of the Public Charge grounds of inadmissibility. These recent changes increased the financial overview process for intending immigrants. Federal poverty guidelines, previously used as a threshold of sufficient income (over 125% Federal Poverty guidelines income for a family of that size), become a minimum requirements, with other factors considered. Some intending immigrants had sufficient income under the previous standards of 125% Federal poverty guidelines, and were still denied based on Public Charge grounds.

ALERT From USCIS on changes to the Public Charge Grounds:  On July 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) in State of New York, et al. v. DHS, et al. and Make the Road NY et al. v. Cuccinelli, et al. enjoined the Department of Homeland Security from enforcing, applying, implementing, or treating as effective the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule (84 FR 41292, Aug. 14, 2019, final rule; as amended by 84 FR 52357, Oct. 2, 2019, final rule correction) for any period during which there is a declared national health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

As long as the July 29, 2020, SDNY injunction is in effect, USCIS will apply the 1999 public charge guidance that was in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented on Feb. 24, 2020 to the adjudication of any application for adjustment of status on or after July 29, 2020. In addition, USCIS will adjudicate any application or petition for extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status on or after July 29, 2020, consistent with regulations in place before the Public Charge Rule was implemented; in other words, we will not apply the public benefit condition.  

For more information on the recent injunction regarding Public Charge, please see USCIS link: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/public-charge/injunction-of-the-inadmissibility-on-public-charge-grounds-final-rule.