English Requirement for U.S. Citizenship

The term “naturalization” refers to the process of immigrants becoming United States citizens. Most applicants have to meet the same requirements to become U.S. citizens. Such requirements include being a permanent resident for five years, being physically present in the U.S. for up to 30 months, being a person of good moral character, being attached to the Constitution, and having civics and English knowledge.

But what if the applicant doesn’t read or write English? What if the applicant can’t learn English for some reason? Can an exception be made by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)? In some situations, the answer is “Yes.”

Making an Exception for the English Requirement

Sometimes, an exception can be made for the English requirement if the person meets certain conditions. After all, it’s not easy for everyone to learn English to the point where they can speak it and write it. Fortunately, USCIS will make accommodations for people with disabilities, which makes perfect sense. If someone is disabled, it can be very difficult, if not impossible for them to learn a new language.

An immigrant may be exempt from the English language requirement if they:

  • Are 50 or older and have been a Green Card holder in the U.S. for at least 20 years, OR
  • Are 55 or older when they filed for naturalization and have been a Green Card holder in the U.S. for at least 15 years.

Even if someone qualifies for the English language exemption, they must still take the civics test, but they will be permitted to take the test in their native language. However, if the person is 65 or older and they’ve been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time they filed for naturalization, they will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.

Looking for an immigration attorney? Contact Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC, today!

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