Immigration And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Exceptions to the green card language interview

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Immigration Law |

Is the English language requirement holding you back from obtaining naturalized citizenship in the United States? 

That’s not uncommon. In general, anybody who wants to become a naturalized U.S. citizen has to be able to demonstrate basic proficiency in the language through a three-part test that measures their ability to understand, speak, read and write the national language – English. 

Unfortunately, not everybody has the same capacity to learn a new language, and older immigrants and immigrants who stay largely within their own communities may often be at a disadvantage – but that doesn’t necessarily mean an end to your dreams of citizenship.

You may qualify for an exemption

In general, age, disabilities and medical conditions can make it harder for people to learn a new language, and the law recognizes that. You may qualify for an exemption in the following ways:

  • Are you 50 years of age or older? Have you been a permanent resident (Green Card holder) for the last 20 years? 
  • Are you 55 years of age or older? Have you been a permanent resident of the U.S. for the last 15 years?
  • Do you have a physical disability, verified by a licensed doctor, that prevents you from either learning English or demonstrating your proficiency?
  • Do you have a mental or developmental condition, verified by a licensed doctor or psychologist, that prevents you from meeting the English requirement?

In all of these situations, you may be allowed an exception that will either permit you to take the civics test in your native tongue and forgo the English requirement or forgo both the civics and the language test. If you think that you may qualify for an exemption, it may be wise to seek legal guidance with your citizenship application.