Certain immigrants who dream of U.S. citizenship will not be subject to the same requirements as other foreign nationals – for these individuals there are “modifications” and “exceptions,” which make the naturalization process easier.
One of these exemptions is the English language exemption, which accommodates certain green card holders, particularly older individuals who’ve been living in the U.S. for a long time.
Essentially, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accommodates individuals with disabilities, and older individuals who have been green card holders in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
About the English Language Exemptions
Do you qualify for the English language exemption? You would be exempt from the English language requirement if the following applies to your situation:
- At the time you apply for naturalization, you are at least 50-years-of-age, and you have been living in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 20 years. The USCIS refers to this as the “50/20 exception.”
- When you file for naturalization, you are at least 55 years-of-age, and you’ve been living in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least 15 years. The USCIS calls this the “55/15 exception.”
Note: If you qualify for the English language exemption, you still have to take the civics test; however, you can take the civic test in your native language. If you do decide to take the test in your native language, you have to bring an interpreter with you to your interview – someone who is fluent in English and your language.
Medical Disability Exceptions for Both English & Civics
Some green card holders are exempt from both the English and civics requirements. If a permanent resident cannot comply with either requirement because of a developmental or physical disability, or due to a mental impairment, they may be exempt from both requirements.
If you need more information about disability accommodations, you can obtain more information from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which explains the accommodations for individuals with mental or physical impairments.