There is a myth that everyone who comes to America needs to know English when they arrive. While it is extremely helpful to speak English when you live in the United States, not all immigrants are required to learn English to come to the U.S. In fact, the United States does not have a national language.
Interestingly, you don’t even necessarily need to know English to become a nationalized citizen. There are exceptions for people in some cases, allowing them to take the test in their native language rather than in English.
Why consider speaking English before you come to America?
While you don’t need English to do your interviews or even to become a citizen in some cases, you should consider learning English. The majority of people in America do speak English even if they also speak other languages. There are areas of the country in which people only speak English, so you would need to use a translation app or service in those regions.
It’s also typical for businesses to be run in English. So, if you plan to get a job when you arrive, then you will want to know some basic English to be able to work effectively.
That being said, an immigrant doesn’t need to know English before they arrive. You have options to learn and may actually learn more quickly by being immersed in the language. Once you’re in America, join clubs, meet people and become familiar with the language through exposure. You may be surprised at how quickly you can learn it if you wish to.
For naturalization, English may be required
For some people looking to become naturalized, English will be required as a part of the naturalization process. However, there are exemptions for those who are over the age of 50 and who have been in the U.S. for 20 years. Another exemption is also available for those who have lived in the U.S. for 15 years and who are 55 years old at the time of filing for naturalization.
So, in general, it is a good idea to know English in the U.S., but it may not be an obligation.