The naturalization test: exemptions and accommodations

The naturalization test that you must take and pass to become a U.S. citizen has a reputation for being grueling. For some people, this means hours and hours of studying and preparation, something we discussed in a post back in December. But when even the most able people have difficulty passing the naturalization test, imagine what it must be like for those who live with a physical or developmental disability.

For some of these people — often elderly individuals — learning English and civics is nearly impossible. Fortunately, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes this problem and has allowed some exceptions to accommodate these individuals and give them a fair chance at obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Exemptions For Medical Disabilities

If a person lives with a medical condition that prevents him or her from taking the English and civics tests, it is possible to seek an exemption with the help of a licensed clinical psychologist or physician. The doctor will be required to fill out Form N-648, which explains the individual’s diagnosis and how it affects his or her ability to complete the tests. If accepted, the individual will be exempt from the two tests.

Exemptions Based On Age And Inability To Learn English

It is no secret that as we age, learning a new language becomes more difficult. USCIS recognizes this and allows some exemptions and accommodations for people over a certain age. Those who have been living as lawful permanent residents in the U.S. for 15 years and are at least 55 years old, you will be exempt from the English test. The same is true for people who have been permanent residents for 20 years and are 50 or older.

In addition to being exempt from the English portion of the test, these individuals may also bring an interpreter to the interview and take the civics test in their native language if they cannot take it in English. Naturalization applicants who are over 65 and have lived in the U.S. as permanent residents for 20 years may have addition exemptions and accommodations for the civics test.

These are not the only exemptions and accommodations allowed by the USICS, but hopefully this information helps you better understand whether you or someone you know may be eligible for an exemption or accommodation.