U.S. Citizenship Test: Exceptions & Accommodations

Although most naturalization applicants are required to take citizenship tests, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does make exceptions or offer help to some immigrants. The USCIS also gives special accommodations and assistance to people with disabilities.

Learn about these U.S. citizenship test accommodations, exceptions, exemptions, waivers, and additional assistance so that you or your loved one can take advantage of them. They can cut down on the hassle and difficulties associated with the United States immigration policy.

people from various cultures and countries
A collage of people from various cultures and countries. You could make your immigration journey easier if you qualify for accommodations or exceptions for your U.S. citizenship test.

Exceptions and Accommodations for Applicants Over Age 50

The USCIS makes certain exceptions to the citizenship test for naturalization applicants over age 50 and who meet certain other criteria.

The 50/20 Exception

Some people don’t have to take the English language test. As long as you meet the following requirements, you are exempt from this portion of the citizenship exam:

  • At least 50 years old
  • Have been a green card holder (also known as a lawful permanent resident) for at least 20 years

Important note: You will still need to take the civics portion of the citizenship test.

The 55/15 Exception

People who have been green card holders for more than 15 years and who are at least 55 years old don’t have to take the English test either.

If you meet either the 50/20 or 50/15 exceptions, you will not have to take the civics test in English. Instead, you can take the test in your native language, but you will need to bring an interpreter with you who is fluent in both English and your native language.

Civics Test Exceptions for Applicants Over Age 65

The USCIS gives you special consideration about the civics test requirement if you’re at least 65 years old. Instead of the full 100 civics test questions, you will only need to know the 20 required civics questions by USCIS.

Exceptions and Accommodations for Applicants With Disabilities

People who have physical, developmental, or mental disabilities might not have to take the English or civics tests. You can file Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, with the USCIS if you have one of these disabilities. The form must be completed by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or a licensed clinical psychologist.

The USCIS will help people who have physical or mental disabilities that make it difficult to complete the naturalization process. You can ask for help with your disability on Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. You can ask for help with your disability at any time during the naturalization process. Be sure to give the USCIS enough time to help you.

Accommodations available for applicants with disabilities include:

  • Extra time allotted for test completion
  • American Sign Language interpreter
  • Relatives allowed to attend the test and complete necessary paperwork
  • Taking the test off-site (at a public library, for example)

The USCIS considers each request for accommodations on its own merit. Make sure to include information about any relevant disabilities or accommodations you may need at every step of the naturalization process.

Citizenship Test Waivers

USCIS officers will sometimes grant exemptions—also called waivers—to applicants who don’t need to meet a certain requirement. For example, they sometimes give waivers for the English and civics tests, which would mean that you wouldn’t have to take them. 

A waiver of this kind is usually given because of age or disability. These waivers are given when:

  • Your injury or disability has long-term effects (at least one year).
  • Your injury or disability renders you unable to complete the citizenship test.

What Happens When You Pass the U.S. Citizenship Test?

If you pass the citizenship test, you’ll be scheduled to partake in the naturalization citizenship oath ceremony before officially becoming a U.S. citizen. USCIS will either schedule a ceremony for you that day or mail you Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, with information about your ceremony date.

Bring Form N-445 with you to the oath ceremony. Once completed, you will also need to return your green card. You will no longer need it, as you are now a full citizen of the United States of America!

Get Help Preparing for Your U.S. Citizenship Test

The citizenship interview typically requires you to know the answers to 100 questions given in English. However, you may fall under specific exception protocols or be eligible for accommodations. 

Get help filing the proper paperwork to register for the test and apply for exceptions or accommodations on your U.S. citizenship test by using FileRight’s DVD study guide.

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