Naturalization Tests – Disability Exception

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires that in order to become U.S. citizens all applicants who apply for naturalization must pass an 3 English language tests and an American civics test. In some cases, though, USCIS recognizes that for some persons with developmental or physical disabilities, it may be impossible to prepare for and to take these tests.

If you have a mental impairment, developmental disability or physical disability that you believe would not allow you to take the citizenship tests, you may request a waiver. You do this by filing USCIS Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions). The N-648 must be completed by a licensed medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy or clinical psychologist. Form N-648 must be submitted with your application of naturalization.

The doctor you choose should already be familiar with your medical condition and history. Form N-648 contains a section where the doctor must state how long he or she has been seeing you.

If the doctor has been seeing you for only a short time, it could be an issue for the immigration officer who interviews you. The immigration officer wants to be sure that you did not select a doctor who was willing to falsely claim that you are not able to take the naturalization tests. You or your attorney should be prepared to explain to the officer how you found or were referred to the doctor and why your regular doctor did not complete the form.

It is very important that the doctor who prepares Form N-648 for you explains in detail how your disability makes you unable to take the naturalization test. The key word here is “unable”.

If your doctor states that it would be very or even extremely difficult for you to study for and take the exam, it is enough to get a waiver. Your doctor must be specific about how your condition affects your ability to take the tests. This is an example: “Mr. John Doe cannot take the citizenship tests because he suffers from Alzheimer’s dementia, which damages and kills brain cells and therefore has a severe negative effect on cognitive abilities, including comprehension and memory, which are essential to understanding and learning a new language and facts about U.S. history and civics.”

Even though USCIS will not accept more than one Form N-648 you may want to have more than one N-648 prepared by different doctors. This will be more expensive but you and your attorney will be able to review them and decide which doctor best explained your condition why you cannot take the tests.

Finally, in addition to the tests, another important requirement for naturalization is being a person of good moral character. Never ask the doctor to lie about or exaggerate your condition on Form N-648. Everything on Form N-648 must be complete, accurate and true. If USCIS finds out that you lied about your ability to take the naturalization tests, you may be judged a person without good moral character. If this happens your naturalization application will be denied or, if you have already become a U.S. citizen, your citizenship may be taken away.

I hope this article has been helpful but keep in mind it is informational only and not legal advice. It does not cover all the issues related to this topic. Immigration Law can be complicated and mistakes can have severe consequences. If you or your family members have any legal questions regarding Form N-648, please contact us to schedule a consultation. It will be my pleasure to help you.

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