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Can your aging parent become a citizen without speaking English?

Perhaps you entered the United States for school or work and then became a citizen. Maybe your parent is the one who originally obtained the right to enter the country and helped you follow. You now feel like your status is secure, but you worry about your parent.

The thought of them needing to leave and travel back to your country of origin in their golden years may make you concerned for their well-being. However, while you may have become a citizen, they may have avoided doing so thus far because they do not speak English very well. As a result, both of you may be wondering, is English fluency necessary for your parent to become a United States citizen?

Some people are exempt from language requirements

Technically, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does require English proficiency for someone to become a naturalized citizen. People have to pass an English test during their naturalization interview.

However, the organization will grant exemptions in two specific situations. Some people will qualify for a testing exemption or for specialized support based on their documented, disabling medical condition. Many others can potentially exempt themselves from English language testing requirements because they have lived in the country for years lawfully.

The older someone is and the longer they have stayed in the country, the better their chances of qualifying for an exemption. Someone who is over the age of 50 and who has been in the country for at least 20 years lawfully could potentially become a naturalized citizen without undergoing an English language test.

Adults who are at least 55 and who have been in the country for 15 years could also potentially bypass the English language test. Documentation affirming someone’s legal status in the country and age will play an important role in the process of securing an exemption.

Others can get help while preparing

Needing to speak, read and write in English may intimidate some. Still, the USCIS provides study materials. Family members and neighbors can help older immigrants study to improve their chances of passing the English language test and the Civics test required during the naturalization interview.

Learning more about the United States immigration process will benefit those hoping to immigrate and those who want to help their family members enter or stay in the country. Don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance in the event that you have questions or could benefit from an experienced, helping hand.