In 2020, the estimated number of homeless individuals in the United States was approximately 580,000. A person may be homeless due to various factors, and some reside in shelters while others survive on the streets. Applying for citizenship is a significant process for most individuals, but the challenges are even more daunting for a homeless person. If that person doesn’t speak English well, they may feel entirely helpless to change their situation. Fortunately, the USCIS has a process to help unhoused individuals apply for citizenship, even if they lack most forms of official documentation. However, many people aren’t aware of the USCIS naturalization requirements for homeless individuals or that such a process provides opportunities for this population.
Who is eligible for naturalization through this process?
Individuals at least 18 years of age and have been lawful permanent residents of the United States for at least five years may use this process to obtain citizenship, even if they are homeless. Proving residency is more difficult for homeless individuals because they lack many forms of proof, such as rental records or utility bills that the housed population takes for granted. An experienced attorney who has worked with USCIS processes should be able to recommend alternative forms of proof such as letters from social service agencies or testimony from friends or relatives.
Is there a requirement to speak English?
Yes, somewhat. There is a requirement that the applicant can read, write, and speak basic English. Part of the naturalization process includes an English test where the applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language during an in-person interview with a USCIS officer. Applicants must read aloud one out of three sentences correctly and write one out of three sentences accurately as read by the interviewer. The USCIS provides a list of vocabulary words for applicants to study before the test. As the USCIS study materials show, the vocabulary requirements are confined to a short list of words and do not require the applicant to be anywhere close to fluent to pass the test.
What if a homeless individual has no money to pay for the application fees?
The USCIS provides opportunities for individuals with financial hardships to apply with reduced or waived fees.
Do homeless individuals need language translation services?
Absolutely. The background of unhoused people is as varied as the overall composition of America’s population, so there are many people without permanent housing who primarily speak a non-English language and need help getting documentation prepared for naturalization. Attorneys who are well versed in the USCIS naturalization requirements for homeless individuals and who are fluent in the source and target languages are positioned to help them best. If you know someone who needs this level of assistance, it’s time to give us a call for more information.
The Perfect Translation understands what’s required for citizenship and naturalization processes with the USCIS. Using our service, your translator will know the language and be experienced with the specifics of USCIS procedures to help your application be processed expeditiously. You won’t find that level of expertise in automated translation software programs. Contact us today to discuss your project and receive a free quote.