Aware of medical disability exception option from tests during process of becoming a citizen in US?

disabled immi law


Due to any physical, developmental disabilities or any kind of mental impairment for the applicants who are not able to meet the educational requirements in 1994 Congress had passed a legislation which provides an exception to educational requirements in the process of becoming a citizen in US.

For applicants filing US citizenship application who are unable to fulfill due to any physical, developmental disabilities or any kind of mental impairment which was ‘medically determinable’ that has or will last for at least 12 months the English and civics requirements will not apply. By acceptable clinical or laboratory techniques ‘medically determinable’ determination are made which is defined by regulations.

Who can file for medical exception?

His/her inability to express the educational requirements needed for naturalization must be displayed in such a way that the disability or impairment of the applicant affects the performance of the individual. In order to request for an exception to the educational requirements for naturalization illiteracy will not be acceptable as a valid reason. For any ‘medically determinable’ physical, developmental disabilities or any kind of mental impairment advanced age of and in itself is not a reason additionally.

As an attachment to the naturalization application Form N-648, medical certification for disability exceptions must be submitted by an applicant seeking an exception to the educational requirements. The form should be completed only by a licensed medical professional. The applicant’s medical condition which prevents him/her to meet the English or civics requirement or both of them should be certified by the medical professional.

Concurrent filing of both the naturalization application and the disability based exception form are not allowed by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for certain circumstances. So during any part of the naturalization process which includes after filing of the application but before the first examination or while the first examination is happening accordingly applicant may file for disability exception. Also either during the reexamination that occurs after the first examination of the applicant was rescheduled or after denial of the naturalization application when rehearing will take place the disability exception application may be filed by the applicant.

Difference between accommodation and medical exception

To the naturalization examination process request for exception is different from requesting an exception to the English and civics requirements. From the educational requirements complete exemption is given by an exception to the English and civics requirements. On the other hand to the manner in which an applicant meets the educational requirements are simply modified by an accommodation. From the educational requirements complete exemption is not given to the applicant.

Provision for sign language interpreters, extension to the time for testing and testing at an offsite location are some of the reasonable accommodations included.  Even with reasonable accommodations applicant should show that his/her medical condition prevents him/her from meeting the English and civics requirements in order to be eligible for a disability exception. Form N-648 must be in such cases for medical exception from educational requirements required for naturalization in US.


Get to know about tests in the process of becoming a citizen in US.

US citizen test


One of the most important requirements for US citizenship is the English language knowledge. Next to the main eligibility requirements like 18 years of minimum age and being a green card holder with minimum 5 years presence in US for the process of becoming a citizen in US the educational requirements are verified. To determine if an applicant meets the English and civics requirements a naturalization test is administered by an officer.

The two components of the naturalization test are proficiency in English language and next US history and government knowledge. The ability of applicant to read, write, speak and understanding of English language is tested.  Testing of the US history and government knowledge forms part of the civics test.

Do I get to take a retest?

The initial examination and the re-examination interview are the two opportunities given to an applicant to pass both tests. Even after two attempts if the applicant fails in any portion of the two tests then USCIS will deny the naturalization application. Failed portion of the test must be administered by the officer again in case the applicant requests a hearing by USCIS on the denial.

Failure to appear for the testing re-examination, take tests at an examination or at a hearing are counted as attempts of failure to pass the test by an applicant unless USCIS excuses it.

Who qualifies for test exception?

From both the requirements of taking the English and the civics tests or any one of them applicant may be given exception. Following are scenarios when an applicant qualifies for such exceptions during naturalization.

1. Exception based on age and residency 

From the English language based test an applicant may be given exception but he/she still should pass the civics test if

  • At the time naturalization application is filed if the applicant is 50 years of age or older and lived in US for minimum 20 years as an lawful permanent resident; or
  • At the time of filing application for US citizenship if the applicant is 55 years of age or older and lived in US for minimum 15 years as a lawful permanent resident.

In the language of own choice the applicant is allowed to take the civics test with the help of an interpreter.

2. Civics test based exceptions

If applicant is 65 years of age or older and has been staying as a lawful permanent resident for minimum period of 20 years in United States at the time of filing for US citizenship special consideration with regards to civics test is given. Specific form for the test is administered for an applicant who qualifies for such special consideration.

3. Exception based on medical disability

Either from the civics requirement, English requirement or sometimes from both requirements exemption is given due to severe medical disabilities the applicant is not able to meet the English and civics requirements.

Under IRCA 1986 requirements

In order to be eligible for adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident it’s mandatory according to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) for persons legalized under INA 245A to meet basic skill requirement for citizenship. In order to demonstrate basic citizenship skills an applicant was required to pass the English and civics tests which are administered by legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now USCIS. If not by an INS authorized organization then applicants should pass the administered English and civics tests.

Under IRCA only on portion of the test the applicant did not satisfy the officer will retest the applicant on at the time of reexamination for naturalization.   Unless applicant is exempted of English test based on age and residence time considerations or only if he/she qualifies for a medical waiver otherwise at the time of naturalization examination in all cases applicant should demonstrate English speaking ability.

Make sure you qualify fully for the process of becoming a citizen in US!



To naturalize in US apart from the basis eligibility requirements which includes applicant being minimum 18 years of age and a green card holder with who meets the minimum 5 years of residence requirement, there are also other more specific requirement able to select applicants. So during process of becoming a citizen the applicant should prove his/her intent to the good order and happiness of the US. Burden solely lies on the applicant to prove their attachment to the Constitution of US.

For this it’s important for the applicant not to be a member of some parties and some organizations as discussed below.

Association with communist party

Only if the applicant proves that he/she is not associated with such parties and/or organizations within ten years prior to applying for naturalization and till Oath of Allegiance is administered, he/she qualifies to apply for US citizenship. In case either one of the following is true applicant does not qualify:

  • with the Communist Party or any other dictatorial party the applicant is or has been a member of or associated
  • either a authoritarian single party rule was established by applicant or he/she is or has promoted communism in the United States;
  • With an organization which sponsors communism or the association of repressive single party rule in the United States if applicant is or has been a member. It could be either through its own statement or through any written or printed matter which was published by such organization;
  • As a revolutionary or a member of or associated with a revolutionary organization if the applicant is;
  • If knowingly is publishing or already has published some revolutionary either written or printed material or applicant has printed or written some matter promoting communism.
  • For the purpose of either circulating rebellious written or printed matter, or either written or printed matter which promotes communism if the applicant is knowingly circulating or has circulated, or knowingly possesses or previously has possessed ; or
  • With any organization that either publishes or circulates or for either circulating or publishing purposes if possesses any revolutionary printer or written matter or for sponsoring communism the applicant is or has been a member of, or allied with.

Make sure you are ready for process of becoming a citizen in US!

US citizen process


During the legally prescribed period an applicant filing for the process of becoming a citizen in US should show that he/she was and would continue to be a person who has attachment towards principles of the Constitution of the United States and well inclined to the good order and happiness of the United States. Compared to well inclined, ‘attachment ‘is a stronger term and means an intensity of conviction and this would lead to vigorous support of the Constitution.

An understanding and an intellectual attitude inclusive of willingness to be attached to the principles of the US Constitution is included in attachment. Applicant is not eligible for US citizenship if he/she is unreceptive to the basic form of government of the United States, or who does not believe in the principles of the United States Constitution. The main eligibility requirements include applicant’s minimum age requirement of 18 years, to be a green card holder with continuous residence for 5 years minimum and also good moral character. But only if he/she proves faith in US constitution they are not naturalized and can’t take the oath.

Oath of Allegiance must be taken by naturalization applicants in a public ceremony in order to be admitted to US citizenship. His or her attachment to the United States and its Constitution is declared at that time by an applicant. So while being admitted to citizenship its must for the applicant to understand the following:

  • without any mental hesitation or purpose of avoidance he or she is taking the Oath freely;
  • all foreign commitment he or she is sincerely and absolutely renouncing;
  • to the United States, its Constitution and laws he or she is giving true faith and allegiance;
  •  to make the United States his or her permanent home should be applicant’s intention  and also where he or she will fully assume residency; and
  • when required by the law he or she is discharging all duties and obligations of citizenship including military and civil service.

An acceptance of the democratic, representational process established by the United States Constitution and the willingness to obey the laws which result from that process should be demonstrated by the applicant. True faith and allegiance to the United States includes supporting and defending the principles of the Constitution is also important.

So that is why the process of naturalization apart from checking eligibility and reviewing support documents also includes a civics test. English expertise is also checked to ensure that the applicant doesn’t have any kind of language problems while interacting with others and to also be able to live and work in US without hassles. The applicant who meets the requirement of minimum age of 18 years, green card holder for minimum five years and also maintaining residence in US doesn’t automatically qualify. Only after the required background checks about applicant’s character are done the applicant is fully eligible. Once the final interview happens in which the applicant is tested about English expertise and civics information of US only than an applicant’s real intentions and faith in US constitution is known by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Overview on the process of becoming a citizen in US.

citizenship class


By any means being conferred with US citizenship after birth is naturalization. Through the naturalization process a foreign national or citizen may become a US citizen through different ways. A predominance of the evidence burden is on the applicant to establish that the naturalization requirements are met by him/her before starting process of becoming a citizen.

In order to become a US citizen an applicant has to meet the following general requirements:

  1. At the time of filing the naturalization application the applicant should be of18 years of age or older.
  2. To be eligible for naturalization at least for five years the applicant should have been a lawful permanent resident (LPR).How long to become citizen is based on this minimum period.
  3. Immediately prior to the date of application filing and till the time of citizenship admission as an LPR the applicant must have at least five years continuous residence.
  4. Prior to the date of filing the application physical presence for at least 30 months of the five years in the United States is a must for applicant.
  5. For at least three months before the date of filing the application the applicant should have lived within the State or the USCIS district which has jurisdiction over the place of residence of the applicant.
  6. For five years prior to the filing for naturalization till the period of the Oath of Allegiance is administered good moral character should be demonstrated by applicant.
  7. To the US constitution principles the applicant should have a regard and during all relevant periods under the law applicant should be inclined to good order and happiness of the United States.
  8. Knowledge and understanding of US government and history and ability to read, write and speak English with proper understanding of the language is a must for all applicants.

Authorities of legal information

  • Immigration and Nationality Act Part 312 Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (INA 312; 8 CFR 312) explains the educational requirements for naturalization.

  • Immigration and Nationality Act Part 316 Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations (INA 316; 8 CFR 316) explains the general requirements for naturalization.

  • Immigration and Nationality Act Part 318 (INA 318) explains the prerequisites to naturalization.

At least 18 years of age an applicant should be generally for naturalization. At the time of filing the naturalization application he/she must also prove that they were lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States. In agreement with all provisions of INA applicable an applicant must have been admitted for permanent residence. If an applicant has obtained LPR status through fraud or mistake or admitted in a way not in agreement with the law then they are not lawfully admitted. USCIS should make sure that the applicant is just in possession of a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) through unlawful means. At the time of filing for at least minimum five years an applicant must have resided continuously in the US. Before reaching the five-year continuous residence period up to 90 days prior the application can be filed by such an applicant.

For any assistance in the process of becoming a citizen request USCIS!

old women


Applicants going through the naturalization process may have some disabilities for which USCIS could help them so that they can complete the process of becoming a citizen hassle free.  Normal applicants follow the normal course of action in order to gain US citizenship. Few others though meet all the requirements to become US citizen might have problems like a physical disability. Personal problems might also be a reason and thus expand the duration of time of how long to become citizen in US. Such applicants can seek USCIS accommodation.

For the accommodation requests the policies and procedures USCIS has established to process and handle them include the following:

  • Information about accommodation requisitions should be provided locally  
  • As and when possible a point-of-contact should be designated to handle accommodation requests
  • On a timely basis response is must to inquiries and also up to date reviewing of accommodation requests.
  • Uniform systematic internal procedures for receiving and also for properly filing of request have been established.
  • As and when appropriate requests are processed and accommodations are provided

Steps of accommodation requisition

1. Request submission

Each and every time the applicant needs an accommodation it is their responsibility to request for one in advance. Along with the naturalization application simultaneously the applicant, his or her attorney or qualified representative or his/her legal guardian should generally request an accommodation. The National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD: 1-800-767-1833) however also could be called by the applicant to request an accommodation.  Otherwise at any time during the naturalization process with the field office too applicant may request an accommodation.

2. Request on time

If the request of accommodation is not made in advance or in a timely manner it can affect the ability of the field office to provide an accommodation on the required date. Advance requests may not be required for some types of accommodations and could be provided immediately. Requests of the applicant like the need for the USCIS employee to speak louder or slowly to him/her or while answering during the examination more time required to answer etc are such examples.  But without advance planning other types of accommodations may be difficult to be provided.  Provision of a sign language interpreter, more time for the examination or an off-site examination scheduling etc are some examples.

Evidence and support documents

On a case by case basis each request for an accommodation is evaluated by USCIS. In order to evaluate a request for some rare cases documents may be needed but mostly an applicant is not required to include his or her medical condition proof documents.

Provision of requested accommodation

On the date and time when the applicant is schedule to appear a field office should provide the accommodation if it has been a reasonable one. Without any changes to the appointment of the applicant the field office should plan to provide the requested accommodation. As soon as possible the applicant and his or her attorney or qualified representative should be notified in case an accommodation cannot be provided for the scheduled appointment. Also within a reasonable period of time the applicant’s appointment should be rescheduled.

Opt to apply for hearing in the process of becoming a citizen in US.

us citizenship application denial


After filing and review for some reasons the naturalization application may get denied by USCIS during the process of becoming a citizen in US. If the naturalization application of the applicant is denied, the applicant or his/her representative can request before an officer for a USCIS hearing. Within 30 days of receipt of the denial the applicant or the authorized representative should file with USCIS the hearing request. The naturalization process is a complex one and so utmost care should be taken while applying for hearing.

Important to request timely review

  1. Schedule hearing within 180 days

Within 180 days USCIS will schedule a hearing after receiving a request from applicant in a timely manner. This adds to the time of how long to become citizen in US. Other than the original officer who conducted the initial examination or who denied the application, a different officer should conduct the hearing. Officer should be one who is classified at a grade equal or above the officer who conducted initial examination.

  1. Application review by different officer

Type of review method could be new trial or a less formal procedure of applicant’s naturalization application and this is decided based on the following:

  • Depending on how complex the issues are which require to be determined or need a new trial  review (de novo review) and
  • According to naturalization requirement the need for more examination if necessary is to be conducted.

If officer conducts a new and full review of the naturalization application its referred to as de novo review, new trial. Following authority and right the officer who is conducting the review will have:

  • All aspects of the naturalization application is reviewed and a new examination of applicant
  • As part of the examination review any record, file or report created
  • relevant to the applicant’s eligibility receive new evidence and testimony and
  • Denial of the previous officer has to be affirmed or as a whole or in part the decision is re-determined.

Hearing conducted by the officer is to decide either one of the following:

  • Findings in the denial is affirmed and the original decision to deny is maintained;
  • Based on the newly found reasons of ineligibility the original decision is re-determined and application is denied. or
  • The naturalization application is approved after the original decision is re-determined and from denial the original decision is reversed.
  1. Hearing for English and Civics Testing

On the basis of not able to meet the educational requirements which include English and civics tests if there are hearings on naturalization application denials, the tests the applicant previously failed has to be administered by the officer. At the hearing only one opportunity is given to pass the tests of the portion the applicant has failed. If applicant fails the tests again the whole process should be repeated. These tests are to check the English in order to ascertain if the applicant is able to speak and interact with ease and the civics test is to test the knowledge about US history and also to check the applicant’s interest and commitment towards US.

Time to how long to become citizen in US depends on application approval.

USA Form N-400


After going through the initial process of becoming a citizen in US the main reason for denying a US citizenship application by USCIS includes one or more of the following:

  • Not able to establish lawful permanent resident admission
  • Not meeting continuous or/and physical residence requirement
  • In the same state or service district residence for 3 months
  • Good moral character
  • English knowledge
  • US history and government knowledge
  • Lack of examination

The denial adds to the time of how long to become citizen in US caused due to mistakes from the applicant’s side.

Excluding the above there are other reasons for denial also as follows:

Fail to appear at initial interview results in administrative closure.

If applicant fails to appear for the initial examination for naturalization without informing USCIS a reason for it within 30 days of the scheduled appointment it means that the applicant has abandoned his/her application.  Without making a decision on the qualities of the application the officer will administratively close it if on a timely manner the applicant doesn’t notify.

Within one year of time the application was closed in order to reopen the administratively closed application the applicant should submit a written request to the USCIS. For naturalization eligibility determination purposes the date of the applicant’s request to reopen an application becomes the date of filing the naturalization application. From the date the application is closed if the applicant does not request reopening of an administratively closed application USCIS will consider that the application for naturalization is abandoned and without further notice to the applicant the application is dismissed.

No response to request for evidence.

Officer will judge the application on the qualities in case within 30 days to a request for evidence or for a reexamination the applicant fails to appear or respond.  While analyzing a subsequent motion to reopen the case any written explanation submitted by applicant for failing to appear or respond for an examination must be considered by an officer as an exception.

Application withdrawal

To withdraw the application the applicant must request in writing.  The withdrawal of application will mean no further hearing to the application and this must be informed by the officer to the applicant. Without any kind of discrimination the applicant can submit application again if USCIS accepts the withdrawal. Regarding the naturalization application further notices will not be sent by USCIS. Based on the merits of the application a decision is made by the officer if consent to the withdrawal is not given by the District Director.

Applicant is in Removal Proceedings?

The naturalization application of an applicant who is in removal proceedings cannot be judged by USCIS. Until the final order of removal or termination of removal proceedings is ordered by the immigration judge generally USCIS will hold the application in abeyance.  The procedure to be followed in such cases by the field offices should be based on the advice of local USCIS counsel.

Attend interview with attorney in the process of becoming a citizen in US.

US lawyer


Completing the naturalization process and gaining US citizenship is in itself a time demanding tedious process. So to ensure the legal rights of the applicant are ensured during the interview process applicant can apply to have a representative to be present. As part of the process of becoming a citizen applicant should go through a in person interview. The presence and guidance of a representative, who could include attorneys or any other representatives, may be requested by applicant during the in-person interview. A properly completed notice of entry of appearance must be submitted to the USCIS by the representative.

The applicant must sign a waiver of representation form if he/she decides in case to proceed without a representative’s assistance.  The officer must reschedule the interview in cases where the applicant does not want to continue with the interview without his/her representative. If the representative fails to appear for multiple scheduled interviews officers should consult with a supervisor for further course of action. Applicants also have the option of applying for American citizenship online.

To ensure that the legal rights of the applicant are protected is the main role of a representative. To the questions directed to the applicant by the officer the representative should not answer but instead they may advise his or her client on points of law.

Any of the following could be an applicant’s representative:

  • United States attorneys;
  • Some of the law students and law graduates though not yet admitted to the bar could represent. They are mostly trustworthy individuals who are of good moral character. They may also have a pre-existing relationship with the applicant and usually do not receive any payment for the representation;
  • From organizations accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representatives;
  • A person may owe loyalty to accredited officials of the government; or
  • From outside United States any attorney.

Apart from the above listed person no one else can represent a person.

When interpreters are needed?

Cases where the applicant is allowed to take the help of a interpreter either by the applicant or by USCIS an interpreter may be selected.  The role of an interpreter is:

  • To the best of her or his knowledge and ability what the officer and the applicant are saying word for word should be translated. The interpreter should not provide own opinion, commentary or answer to the officer’s questions and
  • At the naturalization interview a copy of the interpreter identification which was issued by the government should be submitted and he/she should also complete an interpreter’s oath and privacy release statement.

As an interpreter a person without interest should not be selected. Also the officer can carry out the examination in the applicant’s choice of language in case the USCIS officer is well versed in the applicant’s native language. If an officer finds that the truthfulness of the examination is compromised by the interpreter’s involvement the right to disqualify an interpreter provided by the applicant is with USCIS.

Information on process of becoming a citizen in US.



US citizenship could be derived or acquired by a person at birth. By being born in the US and areas subject to US jurisdiction a person becomes a US citizen at birth. Born in certain territories or faraway possessions of the United States persons are also eligible for citizenship at birth. For process of becoming a citizen at birth following persons are also included:

  • Persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899
  • on or after February 26, 1904 persons born in Canal Zone or Republic of Panama
  • on or after January 17, 1917 persons born in Virgin Islands
  • on August 1, 1950 if residing in Guam or territory and born after April 11, 1899

Persons are considered nationals but not citizens of the United States if they are generally born in American Samoa and Swain Island. If one or both parents were U.S. citizens at their time of birth, in addition, persons who are born outside of the United States may be U.S. citizens at birth. Through naturalization persons who are not U.S. citizens at birth may become U.S. citizens and time period on how long to become citizen depends. By any means whatsoever confer of U.S. citizenship after birth is Naturalization.

Generally after judging the naturalization application which the applicant files, USCIS issues citizenship to that applicant. By operation of law also a person becomes a US citizen in some cases and it is called deriving citizenship. All requirements that are established by Congress, for either of the instances, the foreign national or citizen should fulfill. A person in most cases unless and until he/she is admitted to the United States for permanent residence lawfully is not naturalized.

One of the most important decisions an immigrant can make is the decision to become a US citizen. Equal rights and privileges of a US citizen is shared by the naturalized US citizen.

The following are the abilities the US citizenship provided to immigrants:

  • Voting in the Federal elections
  • U.S. Passport with which you can travel
  • Only with citizenship you can run for elective office
  • Participate on a jury
  • for federal and certain law enforcement jobs you become eligible
  • certain State and Federal benefits not available to non-citizens can be obtained
  • for minor children born abroad citizenship can be obtained
  • to the United States with their increased and  accelerated ability family members could be brought in

Congress has the exclusive authority, as it has long been established, and power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under its constitution. And also to enact legislation through which upon people US citizenship may be conferred.

By various courts designated in rulings enacted by Congress since 1790 and before 1991 naturalization within the US was a judicial function exercised to establish a uniform rule of naturalization under its constitutional power.

To the Attorney General, who now is the Secretary of DHS, Congress transferred the naturalization authority as of October 1, 1991. As are necessary to properly implement the Secretary’s authority USCIS is authorized to perform such acts. An applicant for naturalization in certain cases may choose to have the Oath of Allegiance administered by USCIS or by an eligible court with jurisdiction. To administer the Oath of Allegiance eligible courts may choose to have exclusive authority.