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Are there exceptions to English testing in naturalization?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2021 | Immigration law

Attaining U.S. citizenship may be a dream of yours. There are requirements you as an immigrant must fulfill along the way, including taking the naturalization test. This might be a bigger challenge for you if you struggle with the English language. However, it is possible to receive an exception to English testing requirements.

A naturalization test involves testing your ability to understand English along with a civics test to determine how well you know U.S. history and its government. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website explains that an immigrant may seek an exception to the English language requirement and take the civics test in a language of the immigrant’s choice, but only under specific circumstances.

Age and residency requirements

Some exceptions may happen if you have reached a certain age and have been in the U.S. for a specific period of time. First, you may meet the “50/20” exception. This is if you were 50 years of age or older when you had filed for naturalization and if you have resided in the country as a permanent resident for 20 years.

If this is not the case, you might qualify under the “55/15” exception. In this case, you would have to be 55 years old or older when you had filed for naturalization. Also, your permanent residency in the U.S. must have lasted no less than 15 years.

Medical disability requirements

Your problems with understanding English might stem from a medical disability. The U.S. government may exempt immigrants from the English requirement if they show that they have a mental impairment or a physical or developmental disability that has lasted for at least 12 months. Alternatively, you may show that you have a disability that doctors expect to last at least 12 months.

Be sure that you meet a possible exception under U.S. law. You might not receive an exception simply because you are of advanced age or suffer from illiteracy. If you are not eligible for an exception, you might instead seek out help to bolster your English skills and help you pass the English language requirements.