To become a naturalized United States citizen, you must complete an interview to show you can speak English and take an exam that assesses your understanding of U.S. history, government, law, and geography. But some people may not be physically or mentally capable of taking such a test because of a serious disability.
However, that should not stop you or your loved one from seeking U.S. citizenship. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can make exceptions for those with medically proven physical or intellectual disabilities. You can contact New Frontier Immigration Law to learn how we can help you or your loved one file the required forms for a disability waiver.
What Is Form N-648?
Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, also known as a disability waiver, grants an exception to those with physical or developmental disabilities that prevent them from learning English and demonstrating their knowledge of U.S. civics featured on the U.S. citizenship test.
You or your loved one must have a physician fill out this form to explain how you or your loved one’s disability prevents you from learning English or U.S. civics. If approved, you or your loved one may undergo a special accommodating interview to grant you citizenship.
Who Can File Form N-648?
This disability waiver is strictly for people with severe physical, intellectual, or psychological disabilities that prevent them from completing the naturalization test. This disability could be one you or your family member were born with, have lived with for multiple years, or recently developed. However, a recently developed disability must be expected to last at least 12 months.
You can submit this form for yourself or on your loved one’s behalf. But unlike many other immigration forms, applicants are not responsible for filling out most of this form. The applicant’s physician must fill out every section and sign the form, verifying its accuracy.
The evaluating physician must complete the form and input information about your or your loved one’s disability. They must be a medical doctor (MD), doctor of osteopathy (DO), or clinical psychologist, and they must have experience in diagnosing the disability that you or your loved one has.
What If My Loved One Cannot Read or Write in Their Native Language?
Many people who speak languages other than English cannot read or write in their language. However, USCIS does not consider illiteracy in a native language grounds to receive a disability waiver.
Difference Between Form N-648 Disability Waiver and a Reasonable Accommodation Request
Form N-648 is specifically for those who cannot learn or demonstrate their knowledge of English and U.S. civics, even with reasonable accommodations. Medical providers should fill out this form only if they think you or your loved one cannot pass the test with reasonable accommodations.
Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, you or your loved one may qualify for reasonable accommodations, such as:
- More time to complete the exam
- Breaks during the exam
- Sign language interpretation for those with hearing loss
- Oral examinations for those who physically cannot take written tests
- Large print or braille for those who have vision impairment
Can I Take the U.S. Naturalization Exam in Another Language?
Yes, certain applicants seeking to become citizens may qualify to take the naturalization exam in their native language. USCIS goes by the 50/20 and the 55/15 rules:
- 50/20: You or your loved one is at least 50 years old when filing for naturalization and have lived as a permanent resident for at least 20 years.
- 55/15: You or your loved one is at least 55 years old when filing and have lived as a permanent resident for at least 15 years.
You would answer all the questions in your chosen language but still need to answer questions about U.S. civics.
How to File Form N-648
Follow these steps to ensure you fill out Form N-648 correctly:
Bring the Form to Your Doctor’s Appointment
Print the form and bring it with you to your or your loved one’s disability evaluation. Alternatively, your physician can print a copy, fill it out, and give it back to you.
Make sure the physician answers every question. If the question does not apply to you or your loved one, the doctor should write “not applicable” or “N/A.” USCIS may reject applications with empty fields.
If the doctor needs extra sheets of paper to answer questions fully, include these extra sheets with the application, and write your or your loved one’s name, your or your loved one’s alien number (A-Number), the doctor’s name, and the date on each page.
Have Your Interpreter Complete Part 4, If Applicable
If you used an interpreter during your examination, they must fill out and sign in Part 4.
If you were the interpreter for your loved one during their examination, you would fill out Part 4.
Fill Out Part 5 as the Applicant or the Applicant’s Representative
This section verifies you agree that the form information is accurate and that you agree to share your private medical information with USCIS via this form.
Submit Form N-648 With Your Naturalization Application
Include it with your completed Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. In addition, ensure to include disabilities and needs for reasonable accommodations are included on Form N-400, too.
Pay the Processing Fee
There is no additional filing fee to process Form N-648. However, Form N-400 costs $640 to file. You may have to pay another $85 for the metric testing fee if you must undergo this testing. However, if you or your loved one is age 75 or older, you do not have to pay the extra biometric testing fee.
You can pay by personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or credit card by completing and submitting Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction.
What If USCIS Denies My Disability Waiver Request?
If the disability waiver is denied for insufficient evidence, you or your loved one may have to complete their citizenship interview and test in English and answer questions about U.S. civics. You can also submit more information to prove your or your loved one’s need for a waiver.
For denials based on suspected fraud and misrepresentation, you, your loved one, and the physician who completed the form could face serious consequences, including deportation.
It can help to work with an immigration attorney who can make sure your Form N-648 is complete, thorough, and accurate. We can also see you through the appeals process and advocate for you or your loved one if you face fraud charges.
Get Help With Your Disability Waiver Request
The immigration lawyers at New Frontier Immigration Law can help you or your loved one complete a naturalization application and get the accommodations you need for citizenship. If you need help managing Form N-648, your disability waiver request, contact New Frontier Immigration Law today for a strategic session.