USCIS Naturalization Exceptions & Accommodations

USCIS Naturalization Exceptions & Accommodations

Some individuals qualify for there are exceptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements.   Individuals with disabilities may also receive  accommodations from USCIS.

English Language Exemptions

You may be exempt from the English language requirement, however, you are still required to take the civics test if you are:

  • Aged 50 years or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have had a green card (lived as a permanent resident) in the United States for 20 years.  This is often known as the “50/20” exception.
    OR
  • Aged 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have had a green card (lived as a permanent resident) in the United States for 15 years.  This is often known as the “55/15” exception.

It is important that you remember that:

  • You must still take the United States civics test regardless of  whether you qualify for the “50/20” or “55/15” English language exceptions.
  • If your understanding of spoken English is insufficient to take a  valid examination, you may be permitted to take the civics test in your native language.  You must bring an interpreter with you to your interview if you take the test in your native language.
  • Your interpreter must be fluent in both English and your native language.
  • If you are age 65 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, you will be given special consideration regarding the civics requirement.

Medical Disability Exceptions to English and Civics

If you are unable to comply with these requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment, you may be eligible for an exception.  These requirements are stringent and you may not always be able to obtain the exemption to the English and civics naturalization requirements.

You must submit an application for Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.  This will function  to request this exception from USCIS.   This form must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist.

Continuous Residence Exceptions

If you are engaged in certain kinds of overseas employment you may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence requirement.   The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for certain exceptions to the continuous residence requirement for those applicants working abroad for:

  • The United States government, including the Military
  • Contractors of the United States government
  • A recognized American institution of research.  For a list of recognizes American institutions of research, please see the USCIS compilation of accepted organizations.   [LINK TO USCIS List of Recognized American Institutions of Research and Other Recognized Organizations]
  • A public international organization
  • An organization designated under the International Immunities Act

You must file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes with USCIS  if you want to preserve your continuous residence for naturalization purposes.  This may be accomplished while employed abroad by one of the recognized institutions.  It may be possible for an organization to obtain recognition as an American research institution with USCIS.  This will serve to preserve the continuous residence status of its employees who are, or will be, naturalization applicants assigned abroad for an extended period of time.

For more information on physical presence in the U.S., please read more about continuous presence here.  [LINK TO PHYS PRES]

Disability Accommodations

USCIS will provide accommodations or modifications for applicants with physical or mental impairments that make it difficult for them to complete the naturalization process. Applicants are encouraged to list their needs in the space provided on the USCIS Application for Naturalization.   For more information, see our informational section on naturalization here.  [LINK TO NATZ]

Oath of Allegiance

After applying for naturalization and in order to be naturalized, you must take an oath of allegiance in a public ceremony. The law allows for certain modifications to the Oath of Allegiance.

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