Once the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization filed by green card holders for citizenship are approved, they will be scheduled biometrics appointments. Next, they will be required to appear for the naturalization test and interview. This test is a must for all the naturalization applicants.
Many people who have lived in the U.S. for years either do not know or are not comfortable enough with the English language. A number of seniors applicants for U.S. citizenship have limited or no education. But they are willing to work hard and achieve their American dream. Learning a new language may be difficult for seniors with low literacy skills. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognizes that such applicants may not be able to take the citizenship test due to their age. So it grants such applicants exemptions from the naturalization test.
However, there are only a few categories of people who qualify for the exemptions from the naturalization test.
An applicant who is above age 50 at the time of filing the N-400 application will not be required to take the English test, if he or she has lived here as a legal resident for a 20 year period. This also applies to seniors above age 55 who have spent more than 15 years in America as legal residents.
Senior applicants may also be allowed to take the civics test in their native languages if their understanding of spoken English is not enough to allow a valid interview in English. If they are allowed to take the test in their native languages, they must bring interpreters who are fluent in both English and their native language.
For example, a Spanish speaking applicant aged 57, who has held a green card and has lived in the U.S. for more than 15 years, can seek exemption from the English test. If an exemption is granted, he or she will be allowed to take the civics test in Spanish.
Applicants above age 65, who have spent more than 20 years in the U.S. can request an exemption from the English test. These seniors will be allowed to take an easier version of the civics test. They can take the civics test in their native languages, using an interpreter.
Applicants who have a physical or a mental impairment will become eligible for an exception to the English and the civics requirements if they establish, by submitting Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, completed by licensed medical doctors, that they are unable to comply with the requirements.