One of the more valuable perks of being a citizen of the U.S. is the ability to sponsor close relatives for legal permanent residency. If you sponsored your mother’s green card, she may want to take the next step and become a U.S. citizen. Still, you may have some concerns about her English fluency.
Most naturalization applicants must prove they are fluent in English. To do so, they must take an English proficiency test as part of the naturalization process. Some applicants, however, do not have to take the English-language component of the citizenship exam.
The 50/20 exemption
If your mother is at least 50 years old and has lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident for at least 20 years, immigration officials are likely to excuse her from the English component of the naturalization test.
The 55/15 exemption
If your mom does not qualify for the 50/20 exemption, she may be eligible for the 55/15 one. For this exemption to apply, your mother must be at least 55 years and must have been a legal permanent resident for at least 15 years.
No exemption for the civics test
The English proficiency component is only one part of the naturalization exam. Your mother must also prove she has a grasp of U.S. civics.
Even if your mother qualifies for an exemption under the 50/20 or 55/15 rule, she still must take the civics exam. Still, if she is eligible for an English language exemption, she can probably take the civics portion in her native language.
Ultimately, if you worry about your mom’s ability to speak and write English, it may be beneficial to wait to apply for naturalization until she qualifies for either the 50/20 or the 55/15 exemption.