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Getting US citizenship could be tougher now

December 01, 2006 20:11 IST

With nearly 7,00,000 people enrolling as its citizens annually, the US has announced plans for tougher naturalisation process designed to test applicants much beyond beyond mere memorisation of facts.

The US Department of Immigration will administer the pilot exam early next year comprising some 144 questions to about 5000 volunteer citizenship applicants in ten American cities.

"We found that the current naturalisation exam process lacks standardisation and encourages applicants to memorise facts just to pass a test, but that doesn't guarantee they understand the meaning behind the question," said Emilio Gonzalez, director of USCIS.

"Our goal is to inspire immigrants to learn about the civic values of this nation so that after they take the oath of citizenship they will participate fully in our great democracy" he added.

The new test that has come under fire from immigration and advocacy groups will include questions that are designed to focus on concept of democracy as well as the rights and responsibilities of American citizens.

The USCIS has said it will address any problems and refine the exam prior to its nationwide implementation in 2008.

The ten pilot test sites identified are Albany in the state of New York, Boston, Charleston, South. Carolina; Denver,; El Paso; Kansas City; Miami; San Antonio; Tucson;and Yakima in the state of Washington are said to reflect the diversity of America.

"The new items will focus less on redundant and trivial questions based on rote memorisation and will focus on concepts, such as rights and responsibilities of citizenship" the USCIS said.

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