On October 19, 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced they revised some naturalization policies to make the process more approachable for applicants who have physical or developmental disabilities which prevent them from fulfilling some of the testing requirements. This change comes in lieu of the Biden Administration’s efforts to further remove barriers for those seeking to immigrate to the United States and obtain green cards.
Background on the Naturalization Testing Requirements
Prior to the new changes, the naturalization process required taking a 2-part test to demonstrate proficiency with the English language as well as a civics understanding. Those who possess certain disabilities can file for an exemption of this requirement by filing Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exemptions, alongside the assistance of a medical professional. The revised policy by USCIS addresses and corrects the following issues with Form N-648:
- Removing repetitive form questions or those deemed irrelevant
- Requirement for dates of diagnosis removed from the form
- Description of disability severity removed
- Medical practitioner’s previous relationship with the applicant section removed
- Includes new option for oath waiver request
- Revised guidelines for telehealth medical exams
This is a wonderful example of how USCIS is listening to the public it serves in order to better address their needs, while fulfilling our responsibilities as an agency,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “The changes made to Form N-648 are yet another way in which USCIS is removing barriers to naturalization, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012 and EO 13985.
Moreover, USCIS will now accept the Form after the applicant files for their naturalization. Under the Trump administration, the disability waiver was almost doubled in length and officials added “unnecessary complexity,” said Laura Burdick, an advocate who works with the waivers with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. In addition to the above changes, applicants who did not correctly fill out the waiver are now able to resubmit the missing information instead of filling all new documents. One change yet to be seen, Burdick mentions, is expanding the types of medical professionals allowed to certify the documents. As she points out, many immigrants are receiving care from nurses since they are more accessible than doctors in these lower-income communities.
There is no filing fee for Form N-648, although a medical practitioner may charge their own fee for assisting with completing the form.
Who Can Certify the Form?
Based on USCIS guidelines, only a “medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, or clinical psychologist licensed to practice in the United States” may certify it. You can contact the state medical board to check if they have a valid medical professional license.
Related: Additional Resource for Medical Professionals completing Form N-648
Accommodations USCIS Can Make For those Required to Test
- Additional time to take the English and civics test with breaks
- Interpreter for those who are deaf/hard of hearing
- Oral examinations
- Braille or large print for those who are blind/deafblind or have poor vision
How We Can Help
It’s strongly advised to seek a qualified immigration professional to assist you in the naturalization process. Making mistakes in the naturalization process can add additional time to the processing and may involve additional, avoidable fees. The VisaNation Law Group attorneys have handled all types of cases for disabled clients and they can assist you too! Schedule a consultation today.