Becoming a United States citizen is not a task to be taken lightly. The rules and requirements are strict, and naturalization can only be finalized after all requirements are met. A person seeking citizenship must pass a written naturalization test and take a public oath. For some, the last step of taking the test and taking the oath seem simple, yet for others with language barriers and disabilities, these requirements can impose a great deal of hardship.
One of the requirements for citizenship is that the applicant be fluent in English and have knowledge of United States history and governmental structure. Fluency in English includes being able to speak, write, and read in the English language. For applicants aged 50 and older, accommodations can be made in this area.
For a person 50 and older that has lived in the United States for 20 years or more, this requirement can be waived, however the applicant must still take the naturalization test. This exemption also applies to those applicants aged 55 years or older that have lived in the United States for 15 years. Individuals aged 65 years and older who have lived in the U.S. for 20 years can be exempt from the English requirement and the civics test.
Accommodations for individuals can be made when taking the written naturalization test. If the applicant’s understanding of English and ability to speak are fluent, yet they are unable to read or write in English, they can be tested orally by an examiner. If this is not possible, the applicant can take the written test in their native language. If the applicant chooses to take the test this way, they must bring an interpreter with them that is fluent in English and in the language that the test will be given. Extended time to complete the examination or to have a relative present that can help with the paperwork required during the naturalization process are also modifications that can be made for those who need them.
For those with developmental, mental, or learning disabilities, the applicant must have the Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions form filled out by a qualified medical doctor or certified psychologist. Accommodations are also made for those with physical disabilities. For those who need assistive mobility devices, such as wheelchairs or walkers, the test will be scheduled in a handicap accessible building. Sign language interpreters can be provided for the hearing impaired. For those who cannot answer verbally or in written form, alternative forms of nonverbal communication are acceptable. These include eye blinking, tapping, pointing to an answer on a board, or nodding of the head to indicate a response. Off-site accommodations can be made as well if an applicant is unable to physically come to the testing center.
Once the naturalization test is completed and passed, the last stage of naturalization is taking the oath of allegiance. Individuals with mental, physical, learning, or other disabilities will be accommodated. For those who may not process information quickly, an officer can explain each portion of the oath and its questions so that the applicant truly understands the oath they are taking. Sign language interpreters, off site administration of the oath, and nonverbal communication can be used if needed.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers represent Clients in all Phases of the Naturalization Process
Philadelphia immigration lawyers of Surin & Griffin, P.C. are dedicated to helping immigrants with their legal and naturalization law issues. The team of highly-skilled and experienced Philadelphia naturalization attorneys at the firm are committed to helping their clients sift through the often overwhelming processes involved in immigration law, and ensuring that they understand every step of the process along the way. Located in center city Philadelphia, Surin & Griffin, P.C. is conveniently accessible by car, train, bus, and all forms of public transportation. Give us a call at 215-925-4435, or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation today.