Immigration law blog

What are Exceptions and Accommodations When Applying for U.S. Citizenship (Naturalization)?

In general, an applicant for naturalization must meet the following criteria (click here for our citizenship blog post):

  • Have been a permanent resident for five years (OR three years if you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, have been married for three years, and are still married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse);
  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States for the last five years (or three years);
  • Have lived in the same state or USCIS service district for the last three months;
  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the previous five (or three) years;
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
  • Be able to take a U.S. History and Civics test;
  • Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance; and
  • Be able to prove “good moral character” for the past five (or three) years.

However, some of these rules contain exceptions:

What if I cannot speak, read, or write English well?

If you are 50 years old or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you may be able to take the civics test in your native language, and you can bring an interpreter to your interview. This exception also applies if you are 55 years old or older and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years.

Additionally, if you are 65 years old or older and have been lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, you may be given special considerations when taking the civics test in your native language.

What if I do not think that I can take the English or civics tests because of a disability?

An exception to the English and civics requirements is available for individuals with certain physical or developmental disabilities or mental impairments. In order to request this exception, you must submit a separate form (Form N-648) signed by a doctor or psychologist.

We recommend that you consult with an Immigration attorney if you believe you may qualify for an exception on these grounds.

What if I cannot meet the continuous residence requirement?

If you have worked abroad in certain fields, you may be eligible for an exception to the continuous residence requirement. More information on this exception can be found at:

We recommend that you consult with an Immigration attorney if you believe you may qualify for an exception.

What if I have a disability that might make it difficult for me to appear at my interview or take an examination?

Accommodations and modifications can be provided for individuals with physical or mental impairments. You can describe these needs on the Form N-400.

My religion does not permit me to serve in the Armed Forces or use weapons. How can I take the Oath of Allegiance?

For individuals whose religious beliefs prevent them from taking part of the Oath of Allegiance, certain modifications or waivers may be permitted. 

See for further information on these allowances.

For additional information on the above waivers and exceptions, please see:

Contact our immigration law office at (206) 838-7628 to set up a low-cost immigration consultation.


L.I.H. Law is a trusted immigration law firm with our office conveniently located in Seattle, near the Seattle Space Needle (2nd Ave and Denny Way).

Our well-respected lawyers exclusively practice immigration law, covering diverse topics: asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), detention cases, fiancé visas (K-1 visas), green cards, immigration status for victims of domestic violence or other crimes, naturalization applications, and much more.

The immigration lawyers and professional staff at L.I.H. Law are dedicated to providing the right solutions to meet our clients’ immigration needs.  Our entire staff is fluent in Spanish and has served clientele from around the world.

Supporting our local immigration community is important to us. Our immigration lawyers and staff are active in volunteering for various community events and organizations, and conducting pro-bono work.

Lesley Irizarry-Hougan

Lesley has been practicing law since July, 2005. She has significant experience in representing clients in Immigration Court, both detained and non-detained cases; appeals from immigration judge decisions, both at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Lesley is actively involved in her community, regularly volunteering at the Latina/o Bar Association Legal Clinic and the King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinic. Lesley Irizarry-Hougan ha estado practicando exclusivamente leyes de inmigración desde Julio del 2005. Ella tiene experiencia significante representando clientes en la Corte de Inmigración; apelando las decisiones del juez de inmigración, ambos a la Corte de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Noveno Circuito y la Corte de Distrito de Estados Unidos para el Oeste de Washington. Lesley también se especializa en aplicaciones afirmativas, incluyendo aplicaciones para la tarjeta verde (Mica), asilo, NACARA, y aplicaciones de ciudadanía archivado en los Estados Unidos y Servicios de Inmigración. Lesley también hace certificaciones de trabajo, incluyendo aplicaciones de cocineros especializados. Ella habla español nativo.

L.I.H. Law, P.S., Immigration Lawyer, Seattle, WA