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What are English language exemptions for naturalization?

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Naturalization

Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States is the end of a long immigration journey for many – but it requires those hopeful applicants to meet specific requirements – including demonstrating their proficiency in English.

It can be difficult, however, for some people to learn a new language. Not everybody has the linguistic skills for the task. Therefore, the U.S. naturalization process permits certain exemptions and accommodations to support those who face challenges in meeting the standard language requirements. These include:

Combined age and residency exemptions

You will be permitted to take the civics test in your native language if:

  • You have been a green card holder for the last 20 years and are over 50 years of age. This is called the 50/20 exemption.
  • You have held a green card for the last 15 years and are 55 years of age or older. This is called the 55/15 exemption.

In addition, if you are 65 years of age or older and have had your green card for the last 20 years before filing for naturalization, you are entitled to additional considerations with the civics test. All others must pass the standard civics test. 

Medical disability exceptions 

If you have a developmental or physical disability that impairs your ability to navigate the English and civics requirements, you may be entitled to an additional exemption for both. It’s important to note, however, that the exception must be requested in advance and medical documentation from a clinical psychologist, M.D. or D.O. is required.

Navigating the requirements to become a naturalized U.S. citizen can be difficult to do on your own – but legal guidance is available.