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US Citizenship Options For Elderly Applicants – Medical & Exam Waivers
I often receive calls from adult children of US permanent residents (ie green card holders) who want to know how their parent can become a US citizen if the parent cannot study for the history test in English and/or or doesn’t speak English very well. I have created an article for you regarding the two most common scenarios I answer each week at my US immigration office of Lena Corial-Yonan, Pennsylvania:
1. My mother qualifies for US citizenship because she has had a green card for 5 years and has no extensive travel or any criminal history. The problem is that she doesn’t speak or read English and can’t study for her history exam. Any solution?
USCIS has specific rules that address the applicant’s age and how long they have had the green card that may exempt them from having to take the US English History test and also exempt them from passing the interview portion from the N-400 as well as from the reading and writing exam. Please see the next question for more details on this.
However, here the applicant has only had a green card for 5 years and so the only decision is to see if the applicant qualifies for a medical disability exemption. A medical disability waiver is completed by a US licensed general practitioner, licensed clinical psychologist, or other specific physician on USCIS Form N-648, Medical Certification of Disability Exemption. The form must be completed in a specific manner and with specific wording/answers before USCIS will approve the medical waiver. The doctor, in order to fill out the medical disability form, must give your N-400 applicant parent a test to determine if he or she can learn or remember basic things. This test may involve having to recite basic information just explained to your parent, and may also involve basic examinations, with your parent placing a round object with a round object, etc.
Applicants with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, for example, are eligible to file Form N-648, Medical Disability Exemption, stating that because of their mental limitations they cannot study for the US History test. A major limitation to eligibility under Form N-648 is that the acquired mental disability cannot be the result of drug use.
Our immigration law firm has successfully completed medical waivers prepared by licensed physicians of the applicant’s choice for mental conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. Please note that these cases are mentioned as examples and in no way guarantee that your case will have similar results for both the mental conditions listed and the USCIS district in which you will apply for citizenship. Please contact an experienced immigration attorney of your choice for a detailed analysis of your specific case.
Although our immigration law firm does not have a doctor(s) that we can recommend to complete Form N-648, we will let you know if a certain type of doctor can complete the form on your behalf. We also review the N-648 form for completeness, as USCIS is strict about the language it requires from the licensed physician in order for the applicant to be approved for US citizenship. If the N-648 form is approved by the US immigration officer, then the US citizenship applicant does not need to take any test to have his N-400 form approved and take the oath.
Also, at least at the USCIS District Office located in Jacksonville Florida, we usually file a copy of Form N-648 with the N-400 petition and bring the original N-648 with us to the N-400 interview. Of course, you can provide the original N-648 in your initial submission if you wish. Just be sure to keep a copy of the N-648 form, as it is not unusual for USCIS to require several changes to the N-648 form before your case is approved.
2. My mother is 65 years old and has resided in the US as a green card holder for over 20 years. Does he still have to take the English test etc?
No, your mother must take a modified version of the civics exam in the language of her choice. She does not have to take the reading or writing test. The N-400 interview, which includes going over the details of the N-400 and asking if your mother has ever been arrested, filed US taxes, etc., is done with the help of the interpreter that your mother brings with her to N- 400 interview. She should bring her own interpreter with her to the N-400 interview so that the interpreter can translate the civil questions into your mother’s best native language.
The age qualifications that exempt applicants from the English, Reading and Writing examinations are as follows:
· Age 65 and have resided in the US as a green card holder for 20 or more years.
· 55 years of age and has resided in the US as a green card holder for 15 years or more.
· 50 years of age and has resided in the US as a green card holder for 20 or more years.
Again, Candidates who fit one of the above categories must take the Civics exam only in the language of their choice.
I hope the above provides some answers to the questions I am asked each week at my immigration law office of Lena Corial-Yonan, PA. from adult children of adult parents who have had a green card for 5 years and now want to become US citizens.
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