N-400 Success Story: Waiver of the English and Civics Requirement based on Disability


Here at the Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick we like to celebrate our client’s successes. From our staff members to our attorneys, we are with you every step of the way on your immigration journey. Every client has a story, and it is these stories that inspire us to deliver the best service every day to achieve optimum results for our clients.

Several months ago a client visited our office after she received a denial for an N-400 application for naturalization that she had filed on her own early last year. Our client was an elderly woman seeking a waiver of the English language and Civics requirement of the N-400 application for naturalization on the basis of her disability. The issue in this case was that our client had various medical diagnoses that greatly impaired her cognitive abilities and by extension her capacity to learn. Due to these conditions, our client would not be able to successfully pass the English language and Civics component of the N-400.

In order to seek a waiver of the English language and Civics requirement, on the basis of physical or mental disability, Form N-648 must be properly completed by a licensed medical professional, who can attest to the applicant’s physical or mental disabilities. After consulting with the client and reviewing the paperwork that had been previously submitted to USCIS, we discovered that the Form N-648 was unsatisfactorily completed. The medical professional that had completed this form on our client’s behalf did not adequately explain the origin, nature, and extent of our client’s disability. The medical professional did not provide any documentation to support the explanation of our client’s medical condition, including such evidence as medically acceptable clinical or laboratory diagnoses to bolster the report. Most importantly, the medical professional failed to explain how the origin, nature, and extent of our client’s medical condition was so severe that they rendered her unable to learn or demonstrate English proficiency and knowledge of U.S. history and government.

Multi-step approach to remedy these issues

During our consultations, we asked the client in-depth questions about her medical history and previous medical conditions, to gain a thorough understanding of her diagnosed medical conditions and prescribed medications. During our consultations with this client, we determined that many of her conditions such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, Parkinson’s, diabetes, etc. detrimentally affected her memory and learning ability, since these conditions typically cause blurred vision, headache, severe drowsiness, dizziness, and other symptoms that greatly impair cognitive functions.

Secondly, we asked the client to obtain a new Form N-648 from her doctor, this time providing a much more detailed explanation of her medical conditions including the origin, nature, extent, and an explanation of how those conditions detrimentally affected her memory, vision, hearing, and learning abilities. This form is very important when obtaining an exception to the English and Civics test. It must be detailed, well prepared, and completed in good faith. The doctor and/or applicant cannot misrepresent their condition(s) under any circumstances to gain an immigration benefit.

Third, being well prepared for the interview is very important to gain an approval of the N-648. We counseled our client and conducted a thorough mock interview to make sure she was well prepared to answer the questions the immigration officer might pose to her based on the information provided on the N-648. When the applicant attends their naturalization interview before an immigration officer, the officer reviews the N-648 application that the doctor completed, and in conjunction interacts with the applicant asking detailed questions about their medical condition(s). Questions asked may include:

  1. What’s the name of your doctor?
  2. How often do you see your doctor?
  3. When was the first time and last time that you see the doctor?
  4. Did he/she apply any diagnostic tests on you?
  5. Whom do you live with?
  6. Describe your medical conditions/problems.
  7. What medications you are taking now?
  8. Why do you think you cannot learn English/U.S. history and government?
  9. Describe your daily activities, do you travel by yourself, do you cook, do your own laundry, do you take buses by yourself, etc.

We are happy to report that all went well during our client’s interview and the N-648 waiver of the English language and Civics examination was approved. Our client is now a United States citizen! The bottom line is that applicants must always make sure that their forms have been properly completed and that all of the necessary documentation has been included to support the waiver. It is not recommended for applicants to file on their own, unless they have a good understanding of the process.

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