How Does USCIS Now Treat Naturalization Applicants Who Have Disabilities?

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On October 19, 2022, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it had updated policy guidance to clarify and conform with the revision of Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. For more information on how the USCIS will now treat naturalization applicants with disabilities, please read on, then contact a lawyer experienced in U.S. citizenship and naturalization law soon.

What does the USCIS’s new announcement do for naturalization applicants with disabilities?

Consistent with the present presidential administration’s goal of removing barriers to legal immigration, the USCIS has shortened and simplified Form N-648 and implemented new telehealth guidelines.

Which naturalization applicants will qualify for this new form and policy from the USCIS?

To request an exception to preclude the applicant from fulfilling the English and civics testing requirements for naturalization, naturalization applicants with a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that precludes them from fulfilling such requirements may file Form N-648. A medical professional must complete and certify it.

How has the USCIS revised Form N-648 for naturalization applicants with disabilities?

To reduce unfair burdens on applicants, USCIS has fielded public questioning and listened to common demands in order to eliminate questions or language that no longer have a practical use or were repetitive. Examples of these types of questions and language include:

  • How each relevant disability affects specific functions of the applicant’s daily life, including the ability to work or go to school
  • Dates of diagnosis
  • A description of how severely the disability impacts a person’s life
  • Whether the certifying professional has a pre-existing relationship with the individual applying for naturalization

In addition to these eliminations, the revisions to Form N-648 allow the medical professional to choose whether they indicate an applicant’s need for an oath waiver, thereby eliminating the need for separate medical documentation.

Where does a naturalization applicant with a disability file Form N-648?

A naturalization applicant with a disability may submit a Form N-648 with his or her Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, or separately at a later date.

How does a naturalization applicant with disabilities ensure they submit their applications properly?

When you seek a medical certification for disability exception because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prevents you from learning English and civics, you should keep the following information in mind:

  • The USCIS does not charge a filing fee for Form N-648; however, a medical professional may charge a fee for a medical examination and for filling out forms
  • Only a medical doctor, doctor for osteopathy or clinical psychologist licensed to practice in the U.S. may certify Form N-648
  • An authorized medical professional must evaluate you in person or where the state law permits a real-time telehealth examination and diagnose you with an applicable condition

If you would like to learn more, call Lightman Law Firm, LLC for our full range of U.S. immigration legal services.