Moving forward, the U.S. citizenship process will be more efficient for immigrants with disabilities. In response to feedback from the public, USCIS has revised its disability waiver (Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions) to make the form shorter and simpler to use. The waiver, in effect since 1994, is used to exempt naturalization applicants with disabilities from the English language and civics test requirements.
The new revisions to the USCIS disability form—which lessen the burden on both applicants and the medical professionals who complete the forms—largely undo the Trump administration’s expansion of requirements for immigration applicants with disabilities.
Attorney Devin Connolly says – “The revised form shows an increased amount of respect for immigrants with disabilities. The prior form was long, sometimes confusing, and it really did place a substantial burden on both applicants and their physicians. I am hopeful that the new, simplified waiver will allow more immigrants with disabilities to become naturalized U.S. citizens.”
What is the N-648 form and what are the new changes to it?
The N-648 form is the disability waiver that exempts U.S. citizenship applicants from needing to (1) demonstrate they can speak, read, and write English, and/or (2) pass a U.S. history and civics test. With a waiver, the applicant can have the interview in their native language and will not have to answer questions about U.S. history and government.
New changes to the form were announced last month. The form has been shortened significantly from nine pages to four-and-a-half, and questions and language that “no longer have practical utility or were redundant,” have been eliminated, according to the USCIS press release.
The new form also eliminates:
- date/s of diagnosis
- questions about the severity of each disability, those asking how each relevant disability affects specific functions of the applicant’s daily life, and those asking whether the certifying medical professional has a pre-existing relationship with the applicant
In addition, the new form adds:
- new telehealth guidelines
- the ability for USCIS to accept an applicant’s Form N-648 after they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- an option for applicants to resubmit the form if they need to update information (instead of being required to fill out entirely new paperwork)
- an option for the medical professional to indicate an applicant’s need for an oath waiver, eliminating the need for separate medical documentation
Who can apply for a citizenship disability exemption?
People with disabilities that keep them from learning or from remembering new information are eligible to apply for the USCIS disability waiver. Examples of the disabilities that qualify for the waiver include:
- severe mental illnesses
- learning disabilities
How do I get a waiver based on my disability?
Ask your doctor to fill out USCIS Form N-648. The doctor will explain on the form what kind of disability you have and how it impedes your learning or your ability to remember new information. You can hand in this form with your citizenship application USCIS Form N-400, or bring it to your citizenship interview. At the interview, the USCIS officer will review the form.
What happens if my waiver is approved?
If your waiver is approved, you will be able to have your interview in your native language. You will also get to skip the civics and English language tests.
What happens if my form N-648 is incomplete?
If the form is incomplete or there are outstanding questions, the officer may ask you to get more information and come back for a second interview.
What happens if USCIS rejects your N-648 disability waiver request?
If your form N-648 has been denied or you need assistance with the process, reach out to us to receive expert consultation from our immigration and naturalization attorneys. Reeves Immigration Law Group has over 40 years of experience in U.S. immigration law. We’ll support you in the application process and determine if additional information could improve your citizenship disability form.