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Qualifying for modifications to your citizenship process

One of the proudest moments of your life may have been when you were able to sponsor your parent who applied for a permanent resident card. Receiving a green card provided many opportunities for your loved one, and you played an important role in making that happen.

Years have passed, and your parent has become a comfortable member of your Kentucky community. You may have suggested numerous times that he or she apply for citizenship, but the answer was always the same. Your loved one felt incapable of meeting the requirements for success in the naturalization process. You may be pleased to know that the government is willing to make accommodations and exceptions for certain requirements that are part of the naturalization process.

Qualifying for exceptions

The process of becoming a citizen includes an interview with an agent of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a test on reading, writing and speaking English, and a test of one's knowledge of U.S. history and government. Perhaps the most intimidating element of the citizenship test is the requirement to speak English. However, USCIS will consider making an exception for anyone who meets these qualifications:

  • Is 50 years or older, and
  • Has held a green card for 20 years or more

or

  • Is 55 years or older, and
  • Has lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 15 years or more

Exemption from the English language requirement does not relieve your loved one of the requirement to pass the civics test. However, if approved, your parent may be permitted to take the civics test in your native language as long as he or she brings an interpreter who is fluent in both languages. If your parent is older than 65, however, and has held a green card for 20 years or longer, USCIS will provide a modified civics test for your loved one.

Additional exemptions and modifications are available. For example, you may request accommodations if your parent has a disability such as a hearing, vision or mobility impairment. USCIS also provides study materials resources for those preparing for their citizenship exams. Although your loved one will certainly appreciate your support and help studying, you may wish to seek the advice of an immigration attorney regarding requests for exceptions and accommodations to ensure your parent has every opportunity to meet his or her goal of becoming a citizen of the United States.

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