Naturalization is the legal process of becoming a United States citizen. Those who meet certain requirements can apply, attend an interview and undergo testing to become citizens. Many immigrants find the naturalization process intimidating. They worry about the testing requirements.
The naturalization interview includes two tests. Someone must pass a test on United States Civics and also demonstrate proficiency in the English language. It is often the language requirement that prevents people from seeking citizenship. Yet, some immigrants can naturalize without undergoing an English language test.
Older adults may qualify for exemptions
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers study materials for some immigrants and exemptions for others. Learning a language is easiest when people are relatively young. Older adults may find it particularly difficult to become fluent in English.
If older applicants stay in the United States for long enough, they can become citizens without performing an English test. Applicants who are 50 years old or older who have been lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years are exempt from the English language test. Those who are 55 years or older and who have been permanent residents for at least 15 years are also exempt.
They do have to pass a Civics test, but they can take it in the language they speak proficiently with the help of an interpreter. Those who are 65 years old or older and who have been lawful permanent residents for 20 years do not have to take the English test. They can receive both interpreter support and special test forms for the Civics test. There is also support available for those with disabling medical conditions.
Learning about the rules for naturalization testing, and seeking legal guidance whenever necessary, may help people recognize when they qualify for an exemption.