U.S. citizenship test exemptions and accommodations

What is a citizenship test exemption?

Some people may not have to take all of the parts of the English and civics test in the naturalization interview. USCIS gives certain people exceptions and accommodations. You can make a request when filing Form N-400.

An Exemption is when you are allowed to not do something you would normally have to do. An exception is something that does not follow a rule. They are both used in the same way here.

Who can get an exemption or accommodation? 

You may qualify for an exception depending on your age, length of permanent resident (LPR) status, and if you have a medical disability.

Exception
English test
Civics test
50+ years of age
20+ years of permanent residence
Exempt – do not have to take
Still required but can take the test in first language using an interpreter
55+ years of age
15+ years of permanent residence
Exempt – do not have to take
Still required but can take the test in first language using an interpreter
65+ years of age
20+ years of permanent residence
Exempt – do not have to take
Still required but can take the test in first language using an interpreter with only 20 possible questions
Medical disability or impairment
Exempt – do not have to take
Exempt – do not have to take

English language test exemptions

The English test is a part of the naturalization interview. It shows you can speak basic English. You may not have to take this test if you have reached a certain age and lived in the United States long enough.

50/20 exception

You do not have to take the English language test if:

  • You filed your application when you were 50 years of age or older 
  • You have lived in the U.S. for 20 years or more as a permanent resident (green card holder) 

55/15 exception

You do not have to take the English language test if:

  • You filed your application when you were 55 years of age or older 
  • You have lived in the U.S. for 15 years or more as a permanent resident (green card holder) 

Note: 50/20 and 55/15 exception only applies to the English language test. You still have to take the civics test. If you meet the requirements, you can take the civics test in your own language. 

Civics test exemption

The civics test is part of the naturalization interview. It shows you understand the U.S. government and history. You may be able to take a different version of the test if you have reached a certain age and lived in the United States long enough.

65/20 special consideration

You will receive special consideration in the civics test if:

  • You filed your application when you were 65 years or older
  • You have lived in the US for 20 years or more as a permanent resident (green card holder)

If you qualify for special consideration: 

  • You can take the civics test in your first language. You must bring your own interpreter.  
  • You can study 20 civics questions (instead of 100 questions) to prepare for the civics test. These are marked with an asterisk (*) in the full list of questions.
  • You must answer 6 out of 10 questions (from the list of 20 questions) to pass this section. 

English and civics citizenship test exemption

You can get an exemption from both the English and civics tests if:

  • You have a physical or developmental disability or medical impairment
  • Your medical disability affects your ability to show you understand English and U.S. civics  

Accommodations for people with disabilities

USCIS also offers accommodations to people with medical disabilities or impairments.

An accommodation is a change to a test or condition that helps people with disabilities get the same results as people without disabilities.   

You can request certain changes to the naturalization test such as: 

  • Get more time to take your test
  • Allow you to take breaks during the test
  • Be provided a sign language interpreter 
  • Be provided reading tests in large print or braille
  • Allow you to take the writing test orally
  • Allow a family member, legal guardian, or representative to attend your interview
  • Allow you to take the exam in your home or another residence 

Other citizenship exemptions 

You may be exempt from the continuous residence requirement to apply for citizenship if you are working abroad for one of the following organizations: 

  • U.S. government or military
  • American institutions of research 
  • American firm 
  • Media organization 
  • American religious organization 

You must file Form N-470 (Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes) to count your time abroad as continued residence in the USA.

If you think you might qualify for an exemption or accommodation, it is recommended to get legal support filling out your application. It is helpful to have someone who can speak up for you as you apply and during your interview.

If you qualify to take the civics test in your first language, you must bring your own interpreter to your interview unless they state other options are available. Your interpreter must speak your first language and English fluently.  

Your interpreter does not have to be trained or certified. In general, your interpreter should not be someone who is involved in your case. Your attorney, legal representative, or witness cannot interpret for you. 

You and your interpreter will be asked to complete and sign Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview before your interview. 

How can I ask for an exemption or accommodation? 

You can ask for a citizenship test exemption or accommodation in your Form N-400 citizenship application.

Exemption based on age and length of permanent residency

  • Answer yes to Question 13 in part 2 of your application  

Exemption based on a disability or mental impairment

N-400 Part 2 Questions 12-13

Accommodations based on disability or mental impairment

  • Answer yes to Question 1 in part 3 of your application
  • You can also submit an accommodation request online or ask for accommodations with your field office

Next: Learn how to apply for U.S. citizenship


The information on this page comes from trusted sources, including USA.gov and USCIS.gov. We aim to offer information in plain language that is easy to understand and updated regularly. This page is for guidance. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice.