Naturalization for the non-English Speaking Resident

 

Becoming a United States Citizen can be an exciting event for those who have long-awaited this day.  However, for those who have not learned the official language of the states, it may be scarier than it should be.

Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national is granted US citizenship after fulfilling certain requirements.  These requirements include:

  1. Determining if you are an eligible candidate (this may include being over the age of 18 and having been a permanent resident for over 5 years, or 3 years if LPR status is based on marriage)
  2. Preparing and submitting the naturalization form
  3. Attending the interview

During the interview, the applicant will be required to take an English and a civics test.  The test is administered by an officer who makes sure the applicant will meet the educational requirements of citizenship.  The English test will assess the applicant’s ability to read and write in the English language.  The civics test judges whether the applicant knows certain facts and information about US history and government.  With English being one of the hardest languages to learn, this is easier said than done.

Alas, there are exceptions to the educational requirement:

  • The 50/20 exception – The applicant must be 50 years of age or older as well as have resided for at least 20 years in the U.S. as an lawful permanent resident (LPR)
  • The 55/15 exception – the applicant must be 55 years of age or older as well as have resided for at least 15 years in the U.S. as an LPR

The above exceptions only exempt the person from taking the English Test.  The applicant is still required to take the Civics test, but an interpreter is permitted to assist them in completing the test.

If approved, the applicant will be expected to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.  This is an important process for an applicant hoping to become a United States Citizen.  If unable to speak English, an attorney is crucial in assisting the applicant to not only process the naturalization case, but also to assist an exempt person from having to take the test in English.  An attorney can guide you on the right path the first time and avoid any unnecessary setbacks.

 

Cynthia Waisman, an attorney, focuses her practice in the area of Immigration Law.  For more information, go to our website http://www.immigrationattorneytampa.net or call Tampa (813)279-6180 or Clearwater (727)712-2299.