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English Language Testing Exemptions for U.S. Naturalization

For many immigrants in the United States, naturalization marks the ultimate achievement in their goal of becoming a law-abiding and productive member of American society. Naturalization typically requires years of waiting and going through the various steps set forth by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and it also involves two important testing requirements: civics and English language skills.

The USCIS naturalization test is actually a single event with two examination components conducted through a personal interview. Although the interview is non-negotiable, exemption from the naturalization test components can be granted to a certain extent. It is important for immigrants to note that USCIS may deny the naturalization request if the applicant fails any component of the test after two attempts. To this effect, it is also important to note that exemptions are available under certain circumstances.

In general, the English language test requirement is the easiest to get an exemption. This is not the case for the civics test. The English test exemptions are based on the age of the applicant and how long they have legally resided in the U.S. The following situations may grant an exemption:

* The applicant is at least 50 years old and has been a legal resident for 20 years.
* The applicant is at least 55 years old and has been a legal resident for 15 years.

When an exemption is granted in any of the cases above, the applicant must still prove his or her knowledge of U.S. history and government topics through a civics test, which can be administered in a native language with the aid of an interpreter.

If the applicant is at least 65 years old and has been a legal resident for 20 years, he or she may be given special consideration for the civics requirement.

The only exemption available for both English language and civics component of the test is available through USCIS Form N-648, which is filed in cases of medical or mental conditions that cause disability.

If an exemption to the English language component is not granted, the applicant must pass a speaking, reading, and writing test during the naturalization interview. Failing a section of the English language component can be amended through a future interview and reexamination.

For more information about the process or other naturalization requirements, reach out to us at (858) 874-0711. We offer free immigration consultations in San Diego and look forward to helping you.

August 2017
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