How good does your English have to be to become a citizen?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2022 | Citizenship And Naturalization |

If you are a legal permanent resident, you may be itching to become a U.S. citizen. After all, being a citizen gives you valuable rights, not the least of which is your freedom from deportation. Still, if English is not your first language, you may wonder how good it has to be for you to become a citizen.

Most citizenship applicants must demonstrate English proficiency in both speaking and writing. To gauge your proficiency, immigration officials are likely to conduct your naturalization interview in English. They are also apt to ask you to write a few short sentences.

You do not have to be perfect

As you probably know, most Americans do not speak and write in perfect English. Fortunately, you do not have to be perfect either. In fact, you only must convince the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer that you can function in society. Therefore, some small fluency errors are not likely to derail your citizenship aspirations.

You have a second chance

If you do not pass the English portion of the citizenship interview, you have a second opportunity to demonstrate your speaking and writing skills. That is, after notifying you about your failure, the USCIS officer should schedule a follow-up interview. During this second interview, you probably do not have to go through other parts of the interview process.

You may qualify for an exemption

Even though you can have a second opportunity to pass the English component of the exam, you may worry about never being proficient enough to do so. Consequently, you should consider whether you may qualify for an exemption.

Ultimately, according to the USCIS, older permanent residents who have been in the U.S. for a long time often do not have to demonstrate English-language proficiency.