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USCIS Removes Barriers to Naturalization for Applicants with Disabilities

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) recently announced an updated policy guidance to clarify and conform with the revision of Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.

To adhere to President Biden’s Executive Order 14012 and Executive Order 13985 and in response to the administration’s legal immigration goals, USCIS has shortened and simplified Form N-648. Additionally, new telehealth guidelines further remove barriers for applicants and medical professionals. Changes were guided by public comments and feedback received in response to a Federal Register notice regarding the form, and a Request for Public Input (“RPI”), Identifying Barriers Across USCIS Benefits and Services. 

Naturalization applicants with a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that precludes them from fulfilling the English and civics testing requirements for naturalization, qualifies them to file Form N-648 to request an exception to those requirements. The form must be completed and certified by a medical professional.

Based on public comments, revisions to Form N-648 reduce burdens on applicants and the agency by eliminating questions and language that no longer have practical utility or were redundant. Most notable changes include elimination of questions about how each relevant disability affects specific functions of the applicant’s daily life, including the ability to work or go to school. Additionally, the form revisions eliminate dates of diagnosis, description of severity of each disability, and whether the certifying medical professional has a pre-existing relationship with the applicant. Moreover, the form revisions allow the medical professional the option to indicate an applicant’s need for an oath waiver, thereby eliminating the need for separate medical documentation. Further, the updated policy also provides guidance for telehealth medical examinations and allows USCIS to accept applicant’s Form N-648 after they file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

If you have any questions about the revisions to Form N-648, contact our office today to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys!