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Changes to U.S. Citizenship Test Spark Concerns Over English Proficiency

The U.S. Citizenship Test is set to undergo updates that have raised concerns among immigrants and advocates regarding the impact on test-takers with lower levels of English proficiency.

Proposed changes to the citizenship test include the addition of a speaking section where applicants must describe photos and a transition from oral short answer to multiple-choice format for the civics section. Critics worry that these changes may disadvantage individuals with limited English skills and impede their path to citizenship.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will conduct a nationwide trial and seek public feedback before implementing the proposed changes.

Comparatively, the U.S. Citizenship Test is considered easier than those of other Western countries like Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Opinions vary on the importance of a civics test, with some questioning its necessity given the evaluation of other factors such as criminal history and financial support. While some argue for stricter tests to promote integration and civic knowledge, others emphasize the need for equitable access to citizenship without unnecessary language barriers.

The number of naturalized citizens has increased in recent years, and USCIS has made progress in reducing the backlog of naturalization applications.

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