In a recent podcast, we touched briefly on the English Waiver criteria that USCIS requires before exempting an applicant from the English portion of the Naturalization test. Unfortunately, this special exemption only benefits a relatively small population of permanent residents who have lived here for a considerable period of time, which means a minimum of fifteen years. What about the sizeable group of green card holders who earnestly want to become citizens but due to their personal circumstances and background lack the test-taking proficiency and requisite aptitude for civics that ordinary applicants are expected to have? This special set of applicants have studied very diligently but may not be able to learn, recognize and answer the questions as adroitly as a reasonably healthy and well-educated candidate with more opportunities in life. For example, it is not necessarily fair to expect an elderly person with no formal schooling to comprehend and answer questions as competently as a 25 year old college graduate with no issues. In all fairness, should they be held to the same standard? Fortunately, USCIS does carve out a little-known provision that allows USCIS officers discretion when administering the test for applicants whose circumstances deserve special consideration.
Below is a transcript of a podcast we put out on June 9, 2015. You can subscribe to the US Citizenship and Family Immigration Podcast on Itunes.