Certain factors such as old age, poor education, or rudimentary command of the English language will not give you a medical exemption.
The English and civics tests of the U.S citizenship application are challenging for many people. Although candidates can retake the test if they fail due to insufficient preparation, some applicants struggle to pass the exam because of a developmental disability or a mental impairment.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states applicants for naturalization generally must demonstrate that they understand the English language, “including the ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage.” They must also show that they know and understand the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States.
It’s unfair for USCIS to expect these candidates to pass the tests and to be denied naturalization due to a disability.
You can use Form N-648 to request an exception to the English and civics tests because of your disability. You must get the form certified by a licensed medical professional. Only medical doctors, clinical psychologists, or doctors of osteopathy licensed in the United States can certify the N-648 medical waiver. A nurse may help you fill in the form but it must be certified by a doctor. An immigration lawyer can walk you through the process.
The good news for those seeking a waiver is they do not need to provide their complete medical history. However, you must explain on the form why the petitioner’s diagnosis means you cannot pass the English or civics test.
Relevant disorders that could allow an N-648 waiver include learning disabilities, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dementia, and other memory-related conditions.
The forms request pertinent information such as the date of your relevant diagnosis and the method of diagnosis. USCIS wants to gain an idea of the severity of your condition before deciding if you are eligible for a test waiver.
In order to qualify, the physical or developmental disability or mental impairment must have lasted, or must be expected to last, for 12 months or more. You should file N-648 at the same time as you file Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization).
You should not submit form N-648 if you are an applicant who can satisfy the civics and English requirements for naturalization with reasonable accommodations under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Reasonable accommodations include sign language interpreters, off-site testing, and an extended time period for testing. There is no filing fee for submitting N-648 to USCIS.
For legal help and advice on a medical waiver for the English or civics section of the citizenship test, please contact our immigration team.
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