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Since immigration law is so enormously vast and extremely technical, we often get questions from clients about many different parts of their process. Naturalization is always an area where we receive regular questions, especially at the time of the interview. Since immigrants have been filing for citizenship in record numbers in an attempt to avoid problems due to the harsh application of immigration law over the last several years, many apply for naturalization prematurely and run into some issues as a result.
The standards for eligibility for naturalization are very high, so when applicants try to rush the process, they often need additional help. Typically this applies to those who do not speak much English or who only have a very basic idea of how the U.S. works. Many of these applicants ask whether there are citizenship waivers that would allow them to take the test in their native language. There are two main categories of waiver for citizenship applicants: age-based or disability-based waivers.
Some applicants are exempt from the English language requirements of the process and can elect to take the exam in their native language and appear for their interview with an interpreter. Although these individuals are still required to take the civics test, they can do so in their own language. This exemption applies to applicants age 50 or older and who have lived as a permanent resident (Green Card holder) in the United States for at least 20 years (commonly referred to as the “50/20” exception). Applicants age 55 or older who have lived as a permanent resident for 15 years (the “55/15” exception”) are also permitted to use this exemption.
If an applicant is age 65 or older and they have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, they can obtain exemptions for both the language testing as well as the civics portion of the exam. Immigration law also permits these individuals to take a simplified version of the civics test which only tests twenty possible questions instead of one hundred. This makes their chances of success much higher than other applicants.
Exemptions also exist based on medical disability for those who have difficulty learning or communicating on any level and have no ability to learn another language or even basic information needed for the test. This waiver is a bit trickier to get compared to the age-based waiver since the applicant must get help from their medical provider who must fill out paperwork to prove they have a disability that prevents them from being able to take the standard test.
This option is available to anyone, but it is difficult to convince the government of the need and requests are often denied without providing thorough and detailed medical information.
Other applicants ask questions about certain requirements at their green card interview, whether inside the U.S. or at a Consulate abroad. Although the government tries to clearly communicate the importance of bringing all applicable documents to the interview, sometimes applicants forget. So, we have been asked more than once whether a green card can be denied if original documents are not provided at the time of the interview. The answer is positively, YES! One of the primary tasks of an immigration agent it to verify the authenticity of the relationship between the US sponsor and the immigrant beneficiary. This is done through a careful review of the original supporting documents submitted to support their relationship.
If an applicant does not take all required documents to their interview, the government can deny their green card. Usually this does not happen since they will provide an opportunity for the applicant to provide these documents at a later time. This does delay the process by weeks or even months, but it is still possible to get a green card approval even if you forget to bring important documents with you.
These are only two examples of many different issues that applicants can run into at the time of their interview and can easily be avoided if addressed in time. Contact our office to schedule a consultation to help you with your immigration process and avoid the risk of getting a denial or an unnecessary delay. You can do this by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: