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Citizenship FAQs: Do I Need To Speak English To Become A U.S. Citizen?

Learning a new language takes time, and you can start your immigration process even if you don’t speak English. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers immigration information and study guides in many languages on the official USCIS website so that immigrants and potential new citizens will have a better understanding of everything that is required to become an American citizen.⁣ Applicants for U.S. naturalization must demonstrate the ability to speak English at the time of the naturalization exam unless the applicant meets one of the age and time as resident exemptions of English or qualifies for a medical waiver.

The English Language Exemption for the Naturalization test

In some instances, you may qualify for a waiver or exemption of the English test. While the ability to speak English is an important part of the citizenship exam, there are 3 criteria to get an exemption to the English test:

  • If you are 50 years or older and have had a valid green card for at least 20 years.
  • If you are 55 years or older and have had a valid green card for at least 15 years.
  • If you have a physical or mental disability that affects your ability to take the test, you may be exempted from the English test. You would be required to provide documentation of your disability from your physician; approval is at the discretion of USCIS.

Benefits of Speaking English

A new report from the Democracy Solutions Project at the University of Chicago finds that immigrants in Illinois need more language help to participate in civic life. The report found that the most common language barriers faced by immigrants in Illinois are:

  • Not speaking English well enough to understand the voting process
  • Not being able to find information about voting in their native language
  • Not having access to translated voting materials

Godoy Law Offers English Classes for Clients

Attorney Mario Godoy Knows 1st Hand How Important It Is For Immigrants To Learn English
When immigration attorney Mario Godoy started school, he only spoke Spanish. Mario immigrated to the United States from Guatemala as an infant, and only Spanish was spoken at home. When he started kindergarten he quickly learned to speak English – and not only mastered the language but became a citizen, a lawyer and now helps other Immigrants Make America Their Home.

Godoy Law Office offers our clients free monthly classes to practice their English. The classes are held online. To register, call our office at 630-345-4164.

Benefits Of Citizenship

Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen can bring many rights and privileges, such as voting in elections and becoming eligible for certain government jobs. There are also financial benefits associated with becoming a United States citizen. Understanding all the rights and responsibilities associated with becoming a United States citizen is important before applying for naturalization.

Download Our Free Guide: 10 Benefits Of Becoming A U.S. Citizen: Free Guide

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Do You Want to Become a U.S. Citizen? Talk To A Citizenship Lawyer

The immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office work with you to evaluate your immigration status and guide you in your journey to becoming a U.S. citizen. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office at 630-345-4164.

We help clients in all 50 states.

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