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It is possible to become an American citizen without speaking or knowing English, but like all other immigration processes, it is complex. 

For many individuals, obtaining US citizenship is a desired goal that symbolizes the opportunity for a better life. However, the language challenge is a significant obstacle.

At Lluis Law, we provide you with all the information about US citizenship and how to obtain it even without speaking English. In this way, we maximize a hassle-free immigration process. If you have any questions about the citizenship process, please do not hesitate to call us.


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How To Become An American Citizen Without Speaking Or Knowing English In 2024

Often, one of the main problems for Hispanic immigrants is English language proficiency. The language barrier not only limits daily development but also achieves better jobs in various fields.

In addition, to become a United States citizen, proficiency in the English language is essential. This is one of the tests that all national foreigners must pass to obtain naturalization in the United States. 

how to become an american citizen if I don't know english

However, there are alternatives to achieve this status without meeting basic knowledge of said language. In fact, with information and meeting certain requirements, there are ways to become an American citizen without speaking English.

What Is The English Exam To Become An American Citizen?

The naturalization test consists of two parts: 

  • Proficiency in English, and 
  • Knowledge of American history and government.  

The English exam involves testing your ability to read, write, speak and understand English. This is key to your proper integration into American society. 

It should be noted that you will have two opportunities to pass the exams, but if you do not pass them, USCIS will deny your application. 

If you request a hearing with USCIS about the denial, immigration officers will administer any failed portions of the tests. Of course, not taking the new tests or not completing them will count as a failed attempt.

Who Is Exempt From The English Exam For American Citizenship?

National foreigners who meet any of these conditions are not required to take the English exam:

  • Over 50 years old and have been living in the US as a lawful permanent resident for more than 20 years.
  • 55 years old or older at the time of applying for naturalization and have lived for at least 15 years in the US as a lawful permanent resident.
  • Over 65 years old and have been holders of a lawful permanent resident card for at least 20 years. 
the importance of the english language to become a us citizen

Foreigners located in this age range have special consideration. For example, the civics exam will have fewer questions and they will be able to take it in their own language.

Those individuals with a medical disability may be waived from the English, civics, or both requirements. This impediment may be physical or a mental diagnosis that prevents memorizing the required study.

Other Reasons To Be Exempt From Taking The American Citizenship Exam

You could request an exemption in the naturalization process if you suffer from any of the following pathologies:

  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Stroke. 
  • Difficulties in learning ability. 
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Heart failure.
  • High blood pressure that prevents you from taking English classes. 
  • Serious mental illnesses such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Can I Request To Be Exempt From The English Exam For American Citizenship?

To request this exception, you must ask your doctor to complete Form N-648, which must be presented during the citizenship interview. 

At this interview, a USCIS officer will review the form. If the application meets the requirements, the exemption will be approved.

At What Age Can You Apply For US Citizenship In Spanish or other language?

Generally, the minimum age to become an American citizen is 18 years old. Additionally, the exam will be in English. However, there are alternatives to becoming an American citizen without speaking English. 

For example, being over 50 years of age and other requirements, or suffering from an illness as we saw previously. 

family based immigration

Being a US citizen has many benefits, such as making a family-based immigration petition to your immediate relatives. Over time, they may be eligible to adjust status and become lawful permanent residents.

What Depends On Whether You Can Become A Citizen Without Speaking English? 

Generally, age is usually crucial to apply for citizenship without knowing English. American immigration laws recognize that it is more difficult for older people to learn a new language. 

Additionally, depending on the situation, a less rigorous English exam may be requested. 

Is Speaking English A Requirement To Obtain US Citizenship?

Part of the requirements for obtaining US citizenship include demonstrating English skills during the naturalization test. 

If an applicant does not pass any part of the English exam on the first attempt, USCIS provides the opportunity to reschedule a second exam. Typically, this will be 60 to 90 days after the initial exam.

However, if the applicants don’t pass the second time, their application will be rejected for not meeting the educational requirements.

Note: Our immigration attorneys in Los Angeles always advise immigrants to comply with all requirements associated with immigration laws. If you do not comply with them, you could face certain obstacles. For example, the consequences of unlawful presence in the United States.

How Can I Prepare To Take The English Exam? 

You can prepare for the English exam by taking advantage of available resources such as:

  • English classes, 
  • Study guides, and 
  • Practice exams. 

Likewise, USCIS offers study materials and resources on its website to help you prepare.

What Is The English Exam To Become An American Citizen Like?

During the naturalization exam, speaking, reading and writing tests in English are carried out. 

This will be in order to evaluate the applicants’ ability to understand and communicate in this language. That said, the evaluation will consist of the following tests:

  • Oral expression. The applicant’s ability to answer questions related to their eligibility for naturalization is evaluated. Additionally, some margin of error in pronunciation and grammar is allowed, as long as it can be communicated in a meaningful way.
  • Reading. Applicants must correctly read one of three sentences provided by the designated official.
  • Writing. Applicants must correctly write one of three sentences dictated by the officer.
english requirement for citizenship in the usa

USCIS officials must provide assistance and fair opportunities to applicants during the examination process. This act ensures that questions are understood and proper guidance is offered if interpretation is required.

Do you need help processing some type of American visa or a waiver of inadmissibility? Our law firm is one of the oldest in Los Angeles. Therefore, our professionals have the necessary experience that you require.

How Do I Request An Appointment For The Naturalization Interview At USCIS If I Do Not Speak English?

At Lluis Law we recommend that our clients be accompanied by someone who speaks fluent English, especially to important appointments. For example, in interviews with USCIS.

Either way, to request an interview appointment without speaking English, you can use the USCIS computerized virtual assistant. To do so, call the contact number and follow the instructions to ask your question in Spanish. 

Typically, there will also be an agent available to assist you in English or Spanish.

Our firm is in charge of facilitating this entire process for the client, so you will not have to worry about anything. Not only can we prepare you for the exam, but we will even tell you how to dress for the citizenship interview.

Can I Bring An Interpreter During My Naturalization Interview?

In certain scenarios, it is possible to have an interpreter during the naturalization interview. 

USCIS offers interpretation services for some languages, and you may also be allowed to bring your own interpreter. Of course, it must meet the criteria of this government agency. 

Even so, the English requirement is still required, so your ability in this language will be evaluated.

If I Am Exempt From The English Exam, Will I Need To Take The Civics test?

Yes. The exemption from the English exam does not exempt the applicants from taking the civics test, unless their disability also prevents them from doing so.

However, you will have the facility to present it in your native language and respond through an interpreter. 

This blog is focused on how to become an American citizen without speaking English. However, if you like to explore other topics such as: “Illegal reentry after deportation“, on our blog we have useful and concise information.  

Immigration Lawyers In Los Angeles, California Ready To Help You Obtain US Citizenship 

How can I become a citizen if I don’t know English? As you can see, despite being a basic requirement, it is possible to obtain American citizenship without knowing English. Of course, it is not guaranteed, as you must meet certain requirements to do so. 

Knowing this, if you have any difficulty learning English, USCIS may be able to approve a waiver for you. If you do not know how to request it, our immigration lawyers will be able to guide you.

We hope we have been able to clear up your doubts about how to become an American citizen without speaking English. Call us today so we can help you fulfill your American dream.


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