Do all naturalization candidates need to pass an English test?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2022 | US Immigration Law

Naturalization turns you into a United States citizen and allows you to permanently stay in the country. Citizens can vote, run for office and help their loved ones immigrate.

Unfortunately, many people who might qualify for naturalization never attempt to become citizens. They believe they will not pass the tests required during the naturalization interview. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will have an in-depth interview with every naturalization candidate.

That interview will include tests on both Civics and the English language. Can someone who does not proficiently speak English become a naturalized citizen?

Long-term residents can bypass language testing

Older adults who have been in the United States for many years could become naturalized citizens without passing the English language test. Adults who are over the age of 50 and who have been lawful permanent residents in the United States for at least 20 years may be exempt from the English language test. Those who are 55 years of age or older and who have been lawful permanent residents for 15 years or longer are also exempt.

The USCIS will even provide some older adults with accommodations on the Civics portion of the test. Those who are at least 65 years of age and who have been lawful permanent residents for 20 years or longer are exempt from the English language test and could take a special version of the Civics test administered in the language with which they are most comfortable. These accommodations allow long-term residents who struggle with English proficiency to become citizens.

There are other options for younger applicants

If you do not want to wait until you have been in the country for 20 years or reach the age of 50, there are other options for naturalization.

You may be able to study extensively on your own using the resources provided by the USCIS, including a list of the Civics questions and a vocabulary guide for the language test. Language classes could also help. Finally, some applicants who are younger and who have documentation of a disabling medical condition could request an exemption or specialized accommodation for their naturalization interview and testing.

Making use of the exemptions in the naturalization process can help those who want to be citizens of the United States achieve their dream.