Eligibility by Category

2.    English and Civics

Do I have to speak English to apply for citizenship?

Probably. Although there are some exceptions, most people applying for citizenship are required to read, write, and speak basic English. At your naturalization interview, you will be asked to talk about your application, answer civics questions, read one sentence, and write one sentence – all in English. 

My friend/relative wants to apply for citizenship, but he/she does not speak English. Are there any exemptions?

Yes. Some people are not required to take his/her interview in English based on age and how long he/she has had their green card. If a person qualifies based on one or more of the criteria below, he/she will be exempt from the English requirement but will still be required to answer the civics questions in his/her native language.

  • At least 50 years old and has had a green card for at least 20 years;
  • At least 55 years old and has had a green card for at least 15 years; and/or
  • At least 65 years old and has had a green card for at least 20 years.

A person who qualifies for 65/20 is only required to study from a list of 20 civics questions (rather than 100).

A person who is exempt from the English requirement must bring someone to the interview to serve as an interpreter.

My friend/relative does not meet the requirements for the English exemption. Can he/she still apply for citizenship?

Yes. We encourage applicants to take English classes to feel comfortable with basic English before applying. An applicant who does not pass his/her citizenship interview the first time will have another opportunity to pass. Many of Project Citizenship’s partner organizations offer English and civics classes.

My friend/relative does not speak English and has a medical condition. Can he/she still apply for citizenship?

Maybe. Certain people are exempt from the English and/or civics requirement based on a medical disability or impairment. These people must submit a separate request, Form N-648, which is filled out by the person’s doctor.

Additional answers can be found in other sections of our FAQ listed below:

  • Application Timeline
  • English and Civics
  • Gender Marker Change
  • Travel
  • Passport and Other Questions
  • Selective Service


If you did not find the answer you were looking for, you can sign up for a free personal consultation with our immigration specialist accredited by the US Immigration and Citizenship Services.

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Please click "next" to read FAQ: 3. Gender Marker Change