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Who Qualifies for an Exception to the two Standard Citizenship Tests?

In order to naturalize and become a US citizen, USCIS requires that you pass two specific tests. The first test deals with your  proficiency with the English language, and you must show that you have acceptable skills in both reading and writing in English.  Second, you must show that you have an understanding of the US governmental system and US history. Your understanding of the US government and US history is demonstrated when you successfully take the civics part of the Naturalization exam.

Due to the fact that the stakes are high when you go to take your naturalization test, everyone is nervous about the exam to some degree. However, the necessary requirements to pass not only make some people nervous but many face a real barrier to naturalizing because they simply don't have the ability to pass these tests. Thankfully, USCIS does allow some exceptions for those who do not have, for example, the mental ability to learn the necessary English language skills or study for the civics exam.

Written into the immigration and nationality act (in INA section 312), are the main exceptions on who is able to avoid taking the English reading and writing test, the Civics test, or even both portions of the test.  when Congress wrote this law, they are demonstrating some degree of sympathy for those who are older and have lived for a certain number of years within the United States as permanent residents.

 

There are four primary categories of citizenship applicants who are able to opt out of the  English test the Civics test or both:

 

1. Age 50 or above and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 20 years.

  • English test: exempt
  • Civics test:  required, but applicants can take the Civics test in their own language using an interpreter

 

2. Age 55 or above and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 15 years.

  • English test: exempt
  • Civics test:  required, but applicants can take the Civics test in their own language using an interpreter

 

3. Age 65 or above and have lived in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 20 years.

  • English test: exempt
  • Civics test:  required, But USCIS will provide a different test form that is easier to pass. Naturalization applicants can also take the Civics test in their own language with an interpreter

 

4. Medical disability exception on form n-648

  • English test: may be exempt, depending on disability
  • Civics test:  may be exempt, depending on disability

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