The Importance of Your Vote

It seems as though the nation has been more divided than ever due to the recent, drastic changes to our country’s policies, especially regarding immigration law. Families are being held in Mexico while they await the processing of their case in court, the Filipino World War II Veteran Parole program is on the chopping block, and a many more. The only way that change can be made, is if more citizens go out to vote. If you are a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”), and have been for some time, now would be a good time to think about naturalizing as your voice can make a difference next year.

To be eligible for naturalization, one must be 18 years or older, be a LPR for at least five years preceding the date of filing the application, have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years prior to filing the application, pass an English and Civics exam, and pass a thorough background check. Among other things, USCIS will look for criminal records, any evidence of threats to national security, and any indication of bad moral character.

Many LPRs wait many years without becoming a U.S. citizen because of their reluctance to take the English and Civics exam. The Civics exam requires an applicant to study 100 different questions regarding U.S. history. The English exam tests an applicant on basic English reading and writing. However, there are some exceptions and accommodations to these tests. For example, an applicant does not have to take the English Language Test if: 1) the applicant is 50 years or older, and has been a LPR for 20 years, or 2) the applicant is 55 years or older and has been a LPR for 15 years. This exception does not mean that the applicant does not have to take the Civics exam. The applicant must still take the Civics exam, but can take the exam in their native language.

If you do not pass the test on the first try, the applicant has the right to take the test one more time within 60 to 90 days of the original test. In other words, the applicant has two chances to pass the tests without having to start the naturalization process over! There are many organizations that offer free help for these exams, so do not wait to become a citizen of this amazing country and make your voice matter.