The other day the question of what language the United States naturalization (citizenship) test came up so I decided to do a little research.
From the United States citizenship and immigration service web site:
Exceptions & Accommodations
There are exceptions and modifications to the naturalization requirements that are available to those who qualify. USCIS also provides accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
For more information visit our A Guide to Naturalization page and the USCIS Policy Manual Citizenship and Naturalization Guidance.
English Language Exemptions
You Are Exempt From The English Language Requirement, But Are Still Required To Take The Civics Test If You Are:
- Age 50 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception).
- Age 55 or older at the time of filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years (commonly referred to as the “55/15” exception).
In other words if you have lived here for 15 or 20 years and still haven’t learned English you probably won’t have to take the test.
We deserve better
Read more closely. You still have to take the test—just not in English. I agree that those policies discourage folks from learning English, but I’m guessing they were put in place to encourage folks to complete the process. A lot of folks get Green cards with no intention of finishing the process because we don’t have good residency options for folks who want to live here without renouncing their home citizenship. We really do need to create a broader permanent resident category for financial immigrants (folks who want to work but not become citizens) to fix that.
Please help me to understand your comment. There are two tests, English and Civics. The way I read it is if you are exempt from the English test you still have to take the Civics test, and yes you can take the Civics test in your native language.
The way you post was written, it appeared you were saying that the civics test could be skipped for residents over a certain age and period of residency.
Yes, I should have written “English test” instead of “test”.
Anonymous, Thank you for the details. Could you clarify a point of confusion for me please?
The US allows people to claim dual citizenship, so why would there be a requirement to renounce citizenship?
Here is the oath: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
Here is what the State Dept says about dual nationals: Section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states that “the term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.” Therefore, U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Non-citizen nationality status refers only individuals who were born either in American Samoa or on Swains Island to parents who are not citizens of the United States. The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a national of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own nationality laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. national parents may be both a U.S. national and a national of the country of birth. Or, an individual having one nationality at birth may naturalize at a later date in another country and become a dual national.
U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one nationality or another. A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so. In order to relinquish U.S. nationality by virtue of naturalization as a citizen of a foreign state, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign nationality voluntarily and with the intention to relinquish U.S. nationality. Intent may be shown by the person’s statements and conduct.
Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries, and either country has the right to enforce its laws. It is important to note the problems attendant to dual nationality. Claims of other countries upon U.S. dual-nationals often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other. In addition, their dual nationality may hamper efforts of the U.S. Government to provide consular protection to them when they are abroad, especially when they are in the country of their second nationality.
Seems to have a lot of contradictions.
Thank you for your response and research!
Now I know why I find this issue is confusing.
US citizens frequently go to other countries and give or do: Seminars, acting, street performance and street vending, sell at markets, flea markets, selling at Endinburgh Fair- England, teaching and selling to others on a Cruise Ship, or tour, bringing a suitcase full of small trinkets and selling to others, teaching music to groups that invited them, etc., and GET PAID for it.
WE (US citizens) also do our share of “working in other countries” also, with . . . no permits, or permission, and think nothing about it.
US citizens also go visit relatives in Italy, England and Germany and while there. . . work at their bakery, or factory for a few weeks or during the summer.
We don’t . . want to become citizens of that other country.
Folks that work unpermitted in other countries risk fines if caught. Mexico will fine several thousand dollars if you are caught just visiting a factory without a business permit. But my point was because of immigration system doesn’t have an easy to get permanent resident category (H-1Bs are limited in number), financial immigrants who want to work here for long periods get Green cards instead. Even though this is designed as the path to citizenship they choose not to complete process yet take a slot that would otherwise have been filled by someone who wants to be a citizen. Our immigration folks don’t seem to understand this conscious decision to sign up for a green card with no intention to complete the process. We would be better off creating an easy to get resident status for those folks.