Living in the United States doesn’t always mean you can stay. A criminal arrest or other issue could lead to your removal. If you want to become a naturalized citizen, you have to pass certain tests.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) administers testing to determine your understanding of the United States government and the English language. There are written and verbal components to the language and Civics tests that you need to pass to officially transition from a permanent resident to a naturalized citizen.
Naturalization testing puts certain people at a disadvantage
Studying for these tests can be a big part of the naturalization process. You do have the option to retake the test if you fail, and the USCIS does provide study guidance on their website. However, testing can place an unfair burden on individuals who have long lived in the United States.
In some cases, immigrants who want to be naturalized citizens can ask for either exemption from testing or accommodations to make the process more accessible.
Who is potentially exempt from the test?
Immigrants over the age of 50 who have been in the United States for a long time may qualify for exemptions. Provided that you have been in the country as a permanent resident for 20 years or longer, you could bypass the English test. The same is true for those age 55 or older who have been in the country with a Green Card for at least 15 years.
You may still need to take the Civics test if you qualify for these exemptions. However, it may be possible to take the test in your native language with the help of a translator.
Medical disabilities also give rise to accommodations and exemptions
If you have a significant medical disability, that could affect the naturalization process. Those with mental impairments, physical disabilities or developmental disabilities may be able to completely bypass testing requirements.
Conditions that affect your ability to communicate or to physically perform testing requirements could exempt you from the testing process. Those with disabling medical conditions could also request accommodations that make the test accessible for them.
Those worried about testing requirements and hoping for accommodations or exemptions need to understand naturalization testing well to make the best decisions for their personal immigration goals.