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Exceptions to Naturalization Requirements

While there are clear paths to citizenship and eligibility requirements, such as being able to read, write and speak English, U.S. immigration law has established certain “exceptions and accommodations” for individuals who qualify, especially for people who have disabilities.

One of the major exemptions applies the English language requirement. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a person is exempt from learning English, but he or she is still required to pass the civics test if:

  • When they apply for naturalization, age 50 or older, and have been a green card holder in the United States for the past 20 years. This is known as the “50/20” exception, or
  • The applicant is 55 or older when he or she applies for naturalization and they have been living in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 15 years. This is often referred to as the “55/15” exception.

Even if you meet the eligibility requirements under the “50/20” or “50/15” English language exception mentioned above, USCIS will still insist that you pass the civics test. Fortunately, you will be allowed to take this test in your native language.

If you decide to take the civics test in your native language, you will have to bring an interpreter with you when you attend your interview. Your interpreter must be able to speak both English and your native language fluently. Usually, people have a close friend or relative interpret for them. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to help you.

Note: If you are 60 years of age or older and you have been a permanent resident in the U.S. for 20 or more years when you file for naturalization, the USCIS will give you special consideration when it comes to the civics requirement.

Additional Exceptions for Naturalization

The other exceptions and accommodations, include:

  • Medical disability exception for English and civics: Individuals with certain physical or developmental disabilities who cannot comply with the English and civics requirements may be eligible for an exception.
  • Continuous residence exceptions: If someone has been engaged in overseas employment, they may receive an exception for the “continuous residence” requirement.
  • Disability accommodations: Under Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, USCIS provides accommodations for individuals who have certain mental or physical disabilities that make them unable to complete the naturalization process.

If you, or someone you love is interested in applying for citizenship and you feel that you meet one of the exceptions or accommodations listed above, please don’t hesitate to contact our office to speak with a Plano immigration lawyer.

Contact the Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to schedule an initial case evaluation!