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Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions

Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions

Form N-648 Instructions, Fee, and Requirements

Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen is not always easy. The laws can be strict and the language can be confusing. Sometimes, the applicant may also have a disability or condition that makes it harder for them to meet eligibility requirements. 

For those who need a medical exemption from certain parts of the naturalization process, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers the N-648 certification.

What Is Form N-648?

USCIS Form N-648, also often called a “disability waiver,” is used to exempt U.S. citizenship applicants from having to prove certain skills. Those with a diagnosed medical condition that prevents them from being able to read, write, speak, or take basic tests may file this petition. 

N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, makes legal entrance to the U.S. more accessible. Depending on the medical condition an individual has, they may be able to do the naturalization interview in their native language, or not have to answer history and government questions. 

Form N-648 Instructions

This form must be completed by a certifying medical professional within six months of the N-400 form being submitted to USCIS. 

Part 1: Applicant Information

The first section is all about the applicant (patient) and their personal information. This includes things like name, living situation, A-Number, social security number (SSN), and contact information. This is not for the interpreter or the person who may be filling out the form on the applicant’s behalf. 

Part 2: Medical Professional Information

The next piece is reserved for details about the medical professional that provided the diagnosis. Their name, address, license and contact information, and practice type will be sufficient. 

Part 3: Information About Disabilities and/or Impairments

Part 3 is where the important details go. This portion of the application has 23 separate items that need to be addressed. Below are the individual lines and what they require.

  • Item 1: Provide the clinical diagnosis and relevant medical code of all disabilities or impairments that affect the applicant’s ability to understand English, U.S. history, and U.S. government. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders can help you find the classifications for their conditions.
  • Item 2: Supply a description of all the conditions mentioned in Item 1. Briefly explain the symptoms and effects they have had on the applicant. 
  • Item 3: Detail the start date for each disability. When did the applicant begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Item 4: This section is for the dates the applicant was diagnosed with each condition. When did a doctor confirm that the applicant had said disability?
  • Item 5: If the information is available, explain what caused each of the disabilities and conditions the applicant is dealing with. 
  • Item 6: How were each of the disabilities and impairments diagnosed? What clinical methods were used to assess the applicant?
  • Item 7: This is where the severity of each condition must be outlined. There must also be a basis for each description that backs up the assessment (tests, symptoms, observations, etc.). 
  • Item 8: Here it must be explained how each of the applicant’s disabilities affects a specific function of their everyday life. This could include their ability to attend school, work, learn English or civics, read, write, and speak. Provide a basis for the assessment with evidence from tests, observations, or symptoms. 
  • Item 9: Indicate whether or not any of the applicant’s conditions have lasted or will last for one year or longer. If the answer is “no,” the applicant will not be eligible for this exemption.
  • Item 10: Explain why certain conditions are expected to last longer than 12 months and back it up with evidence. Or explain how the condition has already been present for longer than 12 months.
  • Item 11: Indicate whether or not the disability or impairment stems from the illegal use of drugs.
  • Item 12: If the answer to Item 11 was yes, give an explanation of which disabilities or impairments came from illegal drug use. If the answer was yes and illegal use of drugs was the cause for all debilitating conditions, the applicant will not be eligible for this exemption.
  • Item 13: Provide a clear explanation of how the applicant’s impairments and disabilities limit their ability to learn and demonstrate knowledge surrounding the English language and/or civics.
  • Item 14: The medical professional must indicate, in their professional opinion, if they believe the disabilities prevent the applicant from fulfilling the necessary naturalization requirements.
  • Item 15: Information about the first time the medical professional examined the applicant for their condition. 
  • Item 16: Another section for information about the first time a condition was examined if there are more than one being considered.
  • Item 17: Medical professional indicates if they are the primary healthcare provider for said condition(s).
  • Item 18: If Item 17 is a yes, fill in the amount of time treatment has gone on and answer Item 19, then skip 20-22.
  • Item 19: Frequency of treatment provided by the medical professional.
  • Item 20: If Item 17 is a no, give the name of the doctor who treats the condition.
  • Item 21: Provide address and other information of the doctor from Item 20.
  • Item 22: Explain why the medical professional filling out the form is not the medical professional in Item 20 who is treating the condition.
  • Item 23: Indicate whether or not the medical professional used an interpreter when filling out the application. 

Part 4: Interpreter’s Certification

This section is reserved for the information about the person who is going to interpret for the applicant and/or medical professional. This may be the person filling out the form or it may be a third-party interpreter. Necessary details include name, contact information, and certification that the interpreter can perform what is required of them.

Part 5: Applicant’s Attestation/Release of Information

In Part 5, the applicant is required to give the doctor permission to share medical info with USCIS. This portion really only requires a signature from the applicant or their authorized representative. 

Part 6: Medical Professional’s Certification

Part 6 is where the medical professional must provide proof that the applicant has some form of photo ID and they are who they say they are. 

Form N-648 Requirements

Not everybody is eligible to file an N-648 form. There are three basic requirements that must be met in order for an individual to qualify:

  1. The applicant has a physical, mental, or developmental impairment or disability.
  2. The impairment or disability makes it so the applicant cannot learn English or civics.
  3. The impairment or disability has been present or will be present for at least one year.

Medical conditions that may coincide with these requirements include the following:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Dementia
  • Down syndrome
  • Cancer patients on chemotherapy
  • Physical disabilities that make studying impossible
  • Other cognitive impairments

Eligible conditions must be both disabling and medically determinable. This means they must render the person fully unable to learn English or U.S. history and be objectively confirmable by a professional. 

Who Does Not Qualify for N-648 Exemption?

Just because you have a disability, it does not necessarily mean that you should submit an N-648 application. If you are still able to complete the English and civics requirements with the proper accommodations, you should do so. 

Simply being illiterate or very old will also not be enough to qualify you. You can request reasonable accommodations on the Form N-400 without filing the N-648 petition.

N-648 Form Filing Fee

There is no filing fee for Form N-648. However, you will need to pay for all the different aspects of your naturalization application. 

N-648 Processing Time

Form N-648 should be completed and submitted along with Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. A USCIS officer will determine whether or not to accept your disability waiver at the beginning of your naturalization interview. 

If the form is accepted, the interview will continue in the language of your choice with an interpreter; your civics and English requirements will be waived, if applicable; and USCIS will continue to determine whether or not you meet the rest of the naturalization requirements.

The time between submitting your application and your interview depends on the USCIS caseload and whether or not you supply sufficient evidence. If you do not include necessary information, you may experience holdups in the approval process as USCIS requests additional proof. 

Form N-648 Denial

If your N-648 waiver is denied at the beginning of the interview, USCIS will simply proceed as if you had not tried to submit it. This means you will still be required to take all portions of the English and civics tests. Before naturalization can be decided, you will need to pass the English and civics requirements twice, once at the interview and again at the re-examination. 

If you decline to complete the requirements or fail to pass, USCIS will likely deny your naturalization application unless there is a good cause not to. If you have any ability to prepare for the requirements, you should do so and not risk a disability waiver denial. Fill out the proper requests on your N-400 instead to get proper accommodations. 

Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C

Our Chicago immigration law firm is here to help you. Do not let disabilities stop you from coming to the U.S. If you are unable to learn English and/or civics due to a mental or physical condition, contact our team for assistance with Form N-648. 

The naturalization lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C. will walk you through the application process to give you the best possible chance of success.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!