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Is your parent exempt from the English language requirement?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Naturalization/Citizenship

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may be looking forward to helping your parent become one. After obtaining a green card, your mother or father likely must wait five years to apply for naturalization. If your parent does not speak English well or at all, you may worry about his or her ability to pass the English language component of the citizenship interview.

To gauge whether citizenship applicants have basic English language fluency, officers from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services conduct a speaking and writing test. While the test is not difficult for individuals who speak English fluently, it may be exceedingly challenging or impossible for others. Fortunately, your parent may be exempt from the English language requirement.

Is your parent at least 50?

If your parent is at least 50 and has lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 20 years, he or she probably does not have to prove English language competency. Nevertheless, he or she must still pass the civics component of the naturalization interview. This component tests fundamental knowledge of American government, history and civic rights.

Is your parent at least 55?

The English language exemption is more generous for naturalization applicants who are 55 and older. If your parent falls into this category, he or she only must have lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for 15 years. Like with the other exemption, your mother or father likely must complete the civics requirement.

Can your parent pass the civics test?

If your parent qualifies for an English language exemption, he or she can probably take the civics test in his or her native language. To prepare for the civics test, your mother or father should study the USCIS practice questions.

Ultimately, struggling with English competency should not dissuade your parent from applying for naturalization. If your mother or father is not exempt, working with a language tutor may help to pass both the English test and the civics one.