Under federal law, United States citizens are allowed to bring a fiancé or spouse who is a foreign national into the country through the legal immigration process. However, the laws are very complex and confuse most people in South Carolina and elsewhere.
Just before Valentine's Day, the NY Daily News took some questions from readers regarding visas and citizenship for spouses and fiancés. The first question asked whether or not the naturalization test that is required to obtain citizenship can be taken in Spanish.
The NY Daily News answered that there are three exemptions from the requirement that the naturalization test be taken in English. The three exemptions are for applicants who:
- are age 50 or older and have been permanent residents for 20 years or more;
- are age 55 or older and have been permanent residents for 15 years or more; or
- have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from learning English.
The writer also noted that it may be possible to skip the naturalization exam if the applicant has a mental or physical disability.
The second question asked about the green card process for a spouse that entered the country illegally.
As the policy stands now, a spouse who entered the country illegally and has been here for more than a year would have to return to his or her home country for an immigrant visa interview and potentially face a 10-year bar against re-entering the United States.
It is possible for the citizen spouse in this situation to get a waiver if he or she can prove that the separation would result in extreme suffering on behalf of him or her, but this is gamble.
Thankfully, the Obama Administration is expected to implement a new policy by the end of the year to make it easier for undocumented immigrant spouses of citizens to obtain green cards without going through these hassles.
For more information on these issues and others relating to immigration laws, contact an experienced immigration attorney in your area.
Source: NY Daily News, "There are exemptions from English-language naturalization test," Allan Wernick, Feb. 8, 2012