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Must I speak English when filing for naturalization?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2023 | Immigration |

Immigration and naturalization is a complicated issue, especially today. In Florida and across the United States, people who want to be naturalized may not understand their rights and what is necessary to achieve their goal. Some might not even speak English.

While many might view this as a natural obstacle when filing for naturalization, there are English language exemptions that you should understand from the start. It is vital to be aware of these and other key facts about non-English speakers and what they can and cannot do as part of this process.

Understanding the English language exemption

A person trying to become naturalized will be exempt from the English language requirement under specific circumstances. However, they must still take the civics test. This is true for people 50 or older when they file for naturalization. They must have lived in the United States as a Green Card holder for at least 20 years. This is known as the 50/20 exemption.

Those who are 55 or older when they file are also exempt from the English language requirements but must take the civics test if they have lived in the United States for at least 15 years. This is the 55/15 exemption.

There might be a misconception that the civics test is given in English. That is not the case. The person taking the civics test can do so in their native language. Those who choose this option are required to bring a translator with them when they are to be interviewed. The interpreter must be able to speak both languages fluently.

When the person is at least 65 and has been a permanent resident for a minimum of 20 years when they file, they can be granted special consideration for the civics test.

Those who have a medical disability can receive exemptions for both the English requirement and the civics test. The disability can be physical or mental. There is a form that must be filed to receive this exemption and it must be filled out by a licensed doctor or clinical psychologist.

It is important to have professional help with the entire immigration process

Not everyone who wants to be naturalized will speak English. That does not disqualify them from becoming naturalized. It is undeniable that this can be intimidating. It can be even worse for those who do not speak English.

Despite that, there are options for people to have the English requirement waived. For these or other exemptions that immigrants would like to explore as part of the immigration process, it is essential to have experienced legal help. Calling for advice can give information and guidance to try and achieve naturalization.