August 23, 2010: Naturalization and the Disability Exception

Naturalization and the Disability Exception

My mother is 60 years old. She has been a legal resident for 5 years. She took the citizenship test twice and failed. She only speaks her native language and has a medical problem. She cannot remember and keep any thoughts in her mind. I think a doctor’s statement about her condition was provided with her application. Is she eligible to become a citizen?
— Anonymous

Generally, Naturalization applicants are required to pass an English test and a U.S. history and civics test. If an applicant believes that a medical condition will prevent him or her from passing these test, a waiver may be obtained.

It is not sufficient to just submit a statement from a doctor about a Naturalization applicant’s medical conditions. Rather, Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exception, must be submitted. It should be filled out and signed by a qualified doctor who is most familiar with the Applicant’s medical condition. It is extremely important that the doctor’s answers to the questions in Part II, Sections 2 and 3, be as specific and detail oriented as possible.

Importantly, in Section 3, the doctor must clearly explain the medically determinable physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that causes the Applicant to be unable to learn English and/or U.S. history and civics. The doctor must clearly explain the connection. If additional space is needed, the doctor should continue on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the Form.

Relevant medical records to support the doctor’s assessment should be included too. Before filing a Naturalization application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and especially if there may be a medical waiver involved, it may be wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to explain the process in detail and assist with it.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys