When applying for U.S. citizenship, you must meet many criteria and jump through several hoops before you will be granted citizenship. However, with these many requirements come almost as many possible exceptions to the rules. Certain applicants may be exempt from various steps in the naturalization process.
Many U.S. citizenship application exemptions are related to an applicant’s relationship to a U.S. citizen, their age, or a disability. However, these are not the only things that can lead to exceptions to the regulations being made. Discovering that you qualify for an exemption could save you time and money.
Spouses and Children of U.S. Citizens
Spouses and children of U.S. citizens may be eligible for several exceptions to the standard rules for U.S. citizenship applicants. Most people must wait five years after becoming a permanent resident of the United States before they can apply for citizenship. However, for those married to U.S. citizens, the naturalization process can begin after only three years.
It is important to note that there are more requirements for this exemption. For one, the applicant must have been in a valid marital relationship with the same spouse for at least three years. Additionally, the U.S. citizen spouse must have held that status the whole time. Finally, the applicant must meet all other requirements for naturalization.
Foreign-born children of U.S. citizens will automatically obtain citizenship through their parents at birth. However, parents must file Form N-600: Application for Certificate of Citizenship to obtain proof of their child’s status. The same holds for adopted foreign-born children once the adoption process is complete.
See Also: The complete information of Certificate of Citizenship.
Military Service Members and Their Families
Citizenship exemptions also exist for members of the U.S. military and their immediate family members. If you serve honorably in the U.S. military, you can apply for citizenship in as little as one year. Additionally, the spouse and children of a service member killed in action can apply for citizenship immediately.
See Also: The process, eligibility & benefits of obtaining U.S. Citizenship through Military.
Disability Exception for Citizenship (N-648)
When applying for U.S. citizenship, applicants must normally pass an English language test and a U.S. history and civics exam. However, with a medical disability waiver completed by your physician, you may be able to skip this step. You must submit Form N-648 from your doctor at the same time that you file Form N-400: Application for Naturalization.
Approval of Form N-648 will allow applicants to conduct the interview in their native tongue with the aid of a translator and makes them exempt from the civics and history test. Getting medical certification for a disability exception can be challenging. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers will examine these documents closely before approval.
Who Is Eligible for a Disability Waiver?
Anyone with a physical or mental disability that impairs their ability to successfully complete the English language or civics and history test requirements may be eligible for an exemption from the U.S. citizenship tests.
If you are capable of completing the tests but require accommodations to do so, you can make a list of your needs on Form N-400 and reasonable exceptions will be made to allow you to complete the tests.
Age-Related Exceptions to the U.S. Citizenship Test Requirements
While the government does not typically make any step of the immigration process easy, there is at least an understanding that age can make some things more difficult. When it comes to the U.S. citizenship test requirements, there are many exceptions that can be made for older applicants.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows for a number of applicants to receive age-based exemptions from the requirements of the citizenship test. Exemptions to the civics test can be requested at your interview, as long as you meet the conditions. However, you should make requests for an English language exemption in advance with Form N-400.
Civics Test “65/20 ” Exception for Older Applicants
Permanent residents of the United States aged 65 or older who have lived in the country as lawful permanent residents for 20 years or more are eligible to receive an easier version of the civics test. In the standard test, applicants must study from a list of 100 questions. They will then be asked 10 of those questions for the exam and need to correctly answer at least six.
However, under the 65/20 exemption, applicants will only have to study a list of 20 civics questions rather than the standard 100. From there, the test is the same, with 10 questions being asked and six correct answers needed.
English Requirement “50/20” and “55/15” Exceptions for Advanced Age
For the English language requirement, there are two different exceptions that you might qualify for as an older applicant. If you qualify for these exceptions, you can use an interpreter in your naturalization interview and during your civics exam.
Under the 50/20 exemption, applicants aged 50 or older who have lived in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents for at least 20 years are permitted to use an interpreter at their interview and while conducting their civics exam.
Things are the same with the 55/15 rules, except that you must be at least 55 years old and have lived in the U.S. as a green card holder for at least 15 of those years.
Citizenship Test Exceptions
Only those with certain disabilities are exempt from the civics portion of the citizenship test. However, older applicants may qualify for an easier version as well as be exempt from the language requirement.
English Language Exemptions
There are more exemptions surrounding the English test than there are for the civics portion of the test. Applicants may be able to receive an exemption if they have a qualifying physical or mental disability or if they are old enough and have spent enough years in the United States as lawful permanent residents.
Citizenship Test for Seniors in Spanish
When a language exception is made, you will have to bring your own interpreter. Even though many USCIS officers may know Spanish, that does not mean they will interpret for you. While you don’t need to hire a professional translator, you will need to bring someone with you who is fluent in both English and Spanish.
Continuous Residence Exceptions
One of the requirements for obtaining citizenship is maintaining a physical presence in the United States as a permanent resident. However, you may be exempt from the continuous residence requirement if you or your spouse are stationed abroad while working as a(n):
- U.S. government employee, including members of the armed forces
- Researcher in a U.S. recognized research institution
- Employee of an officially recognized U.S. religious organization
- Employee of a U.S. firm involved in developing U.S. trade and commerce
- Employee working for certain U.S. involved public international organizations
File Your Citizenship Application Today
An immigration solutions company can help you identify if you are eligible for any exemptions to U.S. citizenship requirements. At ImmigrationDirect, we give you the tools you need to become a citizen as quickly as immigration bureaucracy will allow. Make sure your application gets filed correctly and that you take advantage of any exceptions you qualify for, which can help in the process.