In order for a person who was not born in the United States to become an American citizen, with all rights and privileges afforded, that person is required to go through a process known as naturalization.

As part of the naturalization process, individuals must meet a variety of requirements, but certain exemptions from these requirements may be allowed if the applicant meets certain conditions.

English Language Requirements

Part of the naturalization process is the successful passing of an English language test and American civics test. However, individuals who are at least 50 years old at the time that they file for naturalization, and who have held a green card for at least 20 years, are exempt from the English test requirement. As are individuals who are at least 55 at the time of filing who have held a green card for at least 15 years.

Even though a person may be exempt from taking the English language portion of the test, the person must still take the civics portion. If a person qualifies for this exception, the civics test may be administered in the person’s native language. This test is given in the form of an interview with an immigration official so, if the person is unable to complete the examination because of a lack of English competency, then the person will be required to bring along an interpreter who is fluent in English and the person’s native language.

Individuals at least age 65 can receive special considerations for the civics test if the person has been a lawful permanent resident / green card holder for at least the last 20 years.

Medical Disability Exceptions

Individuals who are unable to complete the English or civics test because of a physical disability, developmental disability, or mental impairment, may be exempt from taking them.

To qualify for this kind of exception, the naturalization applicant is required to have a licensed medical doctor, osteopathic doctor, or licensed clinical psychologist complete Form N-648, which is a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, before submitting the form to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for review.

As necessary, the USCIS will accommodate those with disabilities whenever possible throughout the naturalization application process. In order for those needs to be addressed in a way that doesn’t cause any delays to application processing, naturalization applicants are allowed to list the types of accommodations that they require on the space provided for this purpose on USCIS Form N-400, the actual naturalization application form.

Continuous Lawful Residence

Residency requirements may be exempted if the naturalization applicant, during the years when residency was required, was outside of the country for certain kinds of employment, including military service.

The Oath of Allegiance

The Oath of Allegiance is administered in a public ceremony, and requires the naturalization applicant to swear allegiance to the United States, to renounce allegiance to any foreign governments, to swear to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the U.S., and to swear to bear arms on behalf of the U.S.

A modified Oath of Allegiance is available for those who cannot swear to bear arms because of religious conviction. If the naturalization applicant was awarded hereditary titles or was ever a member of an order of nobility under a foreign government, the titles and honors are renounced during the Oath of Allegiance ceremony.