One of the more common misconceptions that we encounter during our daily practice revolves around naturalization and whether an applicant is required to take the test. There seems to be rumor especially among some of the ethnic communities in New Jersey that applicants who are older do not have to take the citizenship test. This is not true at all. The vast majority of applicants who apply to become naturalized as US citizens must take the American civics test, in addition to demonstrating an ability to speak, read, and write English. However, there is a limited exception: applicants who are at least 55 years old and who have been permanent residents for at least 15 years prior to applying, or applicants who are at least 50 years old with at least 20 years of permanent residence, are allowed to take the civics or history test in their native language. Moreover, USCIS will excuse these applicants from taking the reading and writing test. Be aware, however, that immigration officers, especially in Newark and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, apply the guidelines very strictly, and these requirements should be met before actually applying.
The English Waiver can be of enormous utility to those out there who meet or who are close to meeting the eligibility requirements if speaking or writing in English is a problem. Applicants, it is important to note, will still have to take the history test, but for those who are English-challenged or illiterate, they will have the option to hear and answer the questions in their own language. In a future blog, we will discuss the Medical Disability Exception, which does excuse the applicant from the test altogether but only under very strict and limited circumstances.
Lee and Garasia, LLC, is a law firm in Edison, New Jersey, representing clients throughout the state of New Jersey and nationwide for all immigration matters. For more information, please call 732-516-1717 or visit our website.