National education and policy experts send USCIS recommendations on improving the citizenship test

A group of policy and adult education experts (including me) worked on this set of recommendations and we're hopeful that USCIS will implement them. These improvements to the testing procedures would go a long way to ensuring that vulnerable populations (such as the elderly and those with limited education) are given a fair chance to demonstrate basic English proficiency.

On Citizenship Day, Immigration and Education Experts Deliver Key Recommendations to Biden Administration on Access to Naturalization

September 17, 2021

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — Today, as the United States marks Citizenship Day, the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, top immigration and education policy experts delivered a set of recommendations to the Biden administration aimed at turning the values celebrated on this day into action by making naturalization more accessible. The recommendations focus on the English language requirement of the Citizenship test and addressing long-standing obstacles to naturalization. Read the letter here.

Laura Burdick, Field Support Coordinator at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network stated: “Citizenship, with all its rights and responsibilities, must be accessible to all people, in a truly free and democratic society. CLINIC calls on the Biden administration to mark this Citizenship Day with a commitment to remove the barriers and obstacles in our naturalization process that often close the door on all but the wealthy and those who have had opportunities for higher education. Only by building a system at USCIS that promotes access to naturalization can we build a society rooted in recognizing and honoring the inherent dignity and contributions of all people — the type of society that will allow us all to thrive.”

Rosalind Gold, Chief Public Policy Officer at NALEO Educational Fund stated: “Citizenship Day provides an important opportunity to recognize the significant contributions that naturalized citizens make to our nation’s economic, cultural, and civic life. We are grateful that the administration has commenced removing unnecessary barriers in the naturalization process, and we urge USCIS to build on this foundation by ensuring that its naturalization examination procedures and practices comply with the law and only require that applicants have basic English-language fluency. We believe USCIS shares our commitment to a fair and accessible naturalization process, and we look forward to continuing to work with the agency to achieve this important goal.”

Amber Mull, Deputy Director of Immigration at the International Rescue Committee said: “Citizenship symbolizes the close of the arc of crisis for the many resettled refugees, asylees, and other at-risk populations we serve. Current economic and demographic barriers restrict access to all but the highly educated and wealthy, effectively denying eligible immigrants the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. On Citizenship Day, we call on the Biden Administration to recognize the contributions that new Americans make to strengthen our communities by committing to remove these barriers and make the naturalization process more fair and equitable.”