Citizenship Disability Waiver

Applicants for Citizenship who are unable to learn English or Civics to satisfy the requirements for the citizenship test, may request an exemption from these tests. The inability to learn English or Civics must result from a disability and/or impairment that prevents you from learning, a difficulty learning English or Civics alone is not sufficient.

A Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, must be filed with your citizenship application if you wish to request a waiver for these tests since there is no automatic exemption. A decision must be made by USCIS based on the information provided in the Form N-648 to determine if you qualify for this waiver and are not required to take the USCIS citizenship test.

Informational Video — Form N-648 Instructional

How to Qualify for the Disability Waiver

To qualify for the Disability Waiver the following requirements must be met:

  • A single physical or developmental disability, mental impairment, or a combination of disabilities or impairments will be considered by USCIS.
  • The disability cannot be temporary, it must be permanent and last at least 12 months or expected to last at least 12 months.
  • The disability must prevent you from learning English and Civics.
  • Even if you have a disability, you may not qualify for a waiver. Disability status from another government agency is not recognized by USCIS. USCIS requires that a separate decision is made. Those who are designated as disabled by the Social Security Administration and receive Social Security income, may not qualify for a disability waiver.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be provided and you must be unable to pass these tests even when accommodations are made.
  • Diagnosis by a medical doctor (MD), osteopath (DO), or psychologist (PhD) of a disability with methods of diagnosis that are recognized by medical professionals. The disability must be identified with a diagnostic code from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • A disability that results from the use of illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, or marijuana, does not qualify.
  • A waiver is not available for illiteracy and/or old age.

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Types of Disabilities

USCIS will look at the following factors in reviewing your disability:

  • The cause of your disability and the diagnosis;
  • Your inability to learn English and Civics and the connection between your disability; and
  • Professional opinion of doctor stating how your disability makes you unable to learn English and Civics.

Learning and memory may be side effects of physical disabilities or the physical disability alone may result in the inability to pass the English and Civics tests. Physical disabilities include, but are not limited to: blindness, deafness, stroke, heart disease, angina, cerebral arteriosclerosis, long-term hypertension, cancer, and diabetes.

Developmental disabilities can be a result of mental or physical problems, or both, and are present before age 22. Developmental disabilities include, but are not limited to: cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, and intellectual disability.

Thinking and perception of a person may be affected by mental impairments. Mental impairments include, but are not limited to: post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Disability Waiver Process

  1. First, you must determine if you have a serious mental, mental, or developmental disability which will prevent you from being able to learn the English and Civics information on the immigration citizenship test.
  2. Second, you need a diagnosis from a medical doctor, osteopath, psychiatrist, or clinical psychologist who is familiar with diagnosing your kind of disability.
  3. Third, there must be a determination by the doctor, osteopath, or psychologist that your disability will not allow you to meet the English and civics requirements even with accommodations. The doctor must complete and sign a Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
  4. Fourth, you must review the Form N-648 with an attorney to make sure the information is complete and accurate.
  5. Fifth, you submit the Form N-648 and you may also submit a request for accommodations in Part 3 of the form N-400.
  6. Last, you will attend the USCIS interview. The USCIS officer will tell you at the beginning of the interview if you disability waiver have been approved or continued.
    • If the USCIS officer approved your N-648, he or she will complete the interview, asking you questions about your N-400 in your native language and then your oath of allegiance will be scheduled.
    • If the USCIS officer decides to continue your waiver since it is not complete, you will be asked the citizenship questions for English and Civics, but you will be given a second opportunity to submit a waiver if you fail the the test. If you pass the test and are able to complete the interview you will be approved. If you fail the test and are continued, the officer will give you a Form N-14 explaining what additional information is needed, a second interview will be scheduled, and you must return to your doctor to obtain the additional information.
    • If your second N-648 is approved at your second interview, the officer will complete the questions about your N-400 in your native language and your oath of allegiance will be scheduled.
    • If your second N-648 is still incomplete and your waiver is denied again, you will be tested again on English and civics. If you fail again, your application for naturalization will be denied.

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