US Citizenship Options For Elderly Applicants – Medical & Exam Waivers

I frequently receive calls from the adult children of US permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) who want to know how their parent can become a US citizen if the parent cannot study for the English history test and / or does not speak English very well. I have created an article for you on the two most common scenarios that I answer weekly in my US Immigration Law Office of Lena Korial-Yonan, P.A.:

1. My mom is eligible for US citizenship because she has had the green card for 5 years, and she does not have extensive travel or any criminal issues. The problem is that she does not speak or read English and cannot study for the history test. Any solution?

USCIS has specific rules that relate to an applicant’s age and how long they have had the green card that can exempt them from having to take the US English History test and also exempt them from passing the interview portion of the N-400 as well as the reading and writing exam. Please see the next question for more details on this.

However, here the applicant has had the green card for only 5 years and so the only solution is to see whether the applicant is eligible for a medical disability waiver. A medical disability waiver is completed by a US licensed general medical doctor, licensed clinical psychologist or other specific doctor on USCIS form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exemptions. The form must be completed a specific way and with specific wording / answers before USCIS will approve the medical waiver. The doctor, in order to complete the medical disability form, must give your parent, the N-400 applicant, a test to determine whether he or she can learn or remember basic things. This test can include having to recite basic information just explained to your parent and may also include basic exams having your parent place a circle object with circle object, etc.

Applicants with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example, are eligible to file form N-648, Medical Disability Waiver, which states that because of their mental limits, they cannot study for the US history test. A major limitation for eligibility under form N-648 is that the resulting mental disability cannot be a result of drug use.

Our immigration law office has successfully completed medical waivers prepared by licensed doctors of applicant’s own choosing for the mental conditions of dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. Please note that these cases are being mentioned are examples and in no way guarantee that your case will have similar results for both the mental conditions listed and for the USCIS district that you will file citizenship with. Please contact an experienced immigration lawyer of your choosing for a detailed analysis of your own specific case.

Although our immigration law office does not have any doctor(s) that we recommend for completion of Form N-648, we will let you know if a particular type of doctor can complete the form on your behalf. We also review the Form N-648 for completeness, as USCIS is strict in the language that they require from the licensed medical doctor in order for the US citizenship applicant to be approved. If the Form N-648 is approved by the US Immigration Officer, then the US citizenship applicant does not have to take any test in order to have their form N-400 approved and be sworn-in.

Also, at least in the USCIS district office located in Jacksonville Fl, we usually file a copy of the Form N-648 with the N-400 application, and we bring the original N-648 with us to the N-400 interview. You may of course provide the original N-648 in your initial filing if you wish. Just be sure to keep a copy of the form N-648, as it is not uncommon for USCIS to require a few changes to the form N-648 before your case can be approved.

2. My mom is 65 years old and she has resided in the US as a green card holder for over 20 years. Does she still have to take the English test, etc.?

No, your mom has to take a modified version of the civics test in her language of choice. She does not have to take the reading or writing test. The N-400 interview, which includes reviewing the details of the N-400 and asking whether your mom has ever been arrested, files US taxes, etc. is completed with the help of the translator that your mom brings with her to the N-400 interview. She must bring her own translator with her to the N-400 interview so that the translator can translate the civics questions in your mom’s best native language.

The age qualifications that exempt applicants from the English, reading and writing tests are as follows:

· 65 years and has resided in US as a green card holder for 20 years or more.
· 55 years old and has resided in the US as a green card holder for 15 years or more.
· 50 years old and has resided in the US as a green card holder for 20 years or more.

Again, Applicants that meet one of the above categories must only take the civics test in their language of choice.

I hope that the above provides some answers to the questions asked of me weekly in my immigration law office of Lena Korial-Yonan, PA. by the adult children of elderly parents who have had the green card for 5 years and now want to become US citizens.

Michael Ortiz

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