The process for becoming a United States citizen if you aren’t born here involves having to prove that you can speak and understand English. You also have to take a civics test that shows you have a basic knowledge of how the government works in this country. There are some accommodations and exceptions that apply to these aspects of obtaining citizenship.
For the English language test, you can usually skip the test if meet either of these criteria:
- 50/20: You’re 50 years old or older and have lived in the country for at least 20 years as a permanent resident.
- 55/15: You’re at least 55 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 15 years.
- Disability: You may be able to bypass the English test if you have a mental, developmental or physical disability, but you must file a Form N-648 that’s completed by a licensed medical professional.
People who bypass the English language test for 50/20 or 55/15 will still need to take the civics test, but you can take it in your native language if you use an interpreter for your interview. Any individual who has a disability may request accommodations for the test based on Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These must be requested in accordance with the proper protocol, so find out ahead of time what you need to do.
Understanding the ins and outs of the naturalization process can be a challenge. Working with someone who is familiar with the process and what special factors might impact specific cases can help take some of the stress out of the process.