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WashingtonLawHelp.orgWashington LawHelp

How Do I Get a Disability-Based Waiver? U.S. Citizenship Application Help

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
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To become a United States citizen, usually you must show the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) that you speak, understand, and write basic English. You also must pass a test in U.S. government and history. If you have a disability that makes you unable to learn or remember new information like English and history, you can apply for a Disability Waiver. #8129EN

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Introduction

To become a United States citizen, usually you must show the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) that you speak, understand, and write basic English. You also must pass a test in U.S. government and history.

If you have a disability that makes you unable to learn or remember new information like English and history, you can apply for a Disability Waiver. If USCIS grants (lets you have) the Waiver, you do not have to speak English or take the history test. You can still become a citizen.

 

Who can get a Waiver?

It is very hard to get. It is only for people with disabilities that keep you from learning or from remembering new information. Do not apply for the waiver if these things are just hard for you.

 

What kind of disabilities qualify for the Waiver?

Some examples include: 

  • stroke

  • Alzheimer's

  • severe mental illnesses like depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • learning disabilities

This is not a complete list.

 

How do I apply for a Waiver?

Ask your doctor to fill out USCIS Form N-648. (You can get it at www.uscis.gov/n-648.)  It asks the doctor to explain

  • What kind of disability you have.

  • How it makes you unable to learn or remember new information.

You can hand this form in with your citizenship application, USCIS Form N-400, or bring it to your interview. Get help from a community organization or legal services office to fill out your application and go with you to your citizenship interview.

*For help with your application, visit a lawyer in person or get advice from one by calling a legal hotline. If you have a low income and live outside King County, call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014. If you live in King County, call the King County Bar Association's Neighborhood Legal Clinics at (206) 267-7070 9 a.m. - noon, Monday – Thursday, to schedule a free half-hour of legal advice.

 

Will I get a Waiver?

It depends. At your citizenship interview, the USCIS officer reviews your doctor's Form N-648. It should do all these:

  • Describe your disability.

  • Explain clearly how it keeps you from learning.

  • Give all information USCIS asks for.

If it does these things, the examiner should approve the waiver. Then you can have your interview in your native language. You will also get to skip the history test.

 

What happens if the hearing officer is not satisfied with my doctor's statement?

They will not approve the waiver. They may ask you to get more information and come back for a second interview. They may do the interview in English and have you take the history test.

 

USCIS did not approve my Waiver. What should I do?

Get help from a community organization or legal services office. (See box on page 1 for contact information.)  They can determine if other information could improve your application.

 

I got a Waiver. Do I still have to take the Oath of Citizenship?

Yes. Every adult must understand and take the oath to become a citizen. If the USCIS officer finds that you do not understand that you are applying for citizenship, they will not approve your application. You cannot become a citizen.

 

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

 

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Last Review and Update: Oct 14, 2020