I frequently get calls from adult children of US permanent residents (i.e. green card holders) who want to know how their parents can become US citizens if they can’t study for the English history test and /or do not speak English very well. I have created an article for you about the two most common scenarios that I respond to weekly at my US Immigration Law Office of Lena Korial-Yonan, PA:
1. My mom is eligible for US citizenship because she has had a green card for 5 years and has no extensive travel or criminal problems. The problem is that she doesn’t speak or read English and she can’t study for the history test. Any solution?
USCIS has specific rules that relate to an applicant’s age and how long they have held the green card that may exempt them from having to take the US English History test and also exempt them from passing the interview portion of the test. N-400, as well as the reading and writing exam. See the next question for more details on this.
However, here the applicant has had the green card for only 5 years, so the only solution is to see if the applicant is eligible for a medical disability waiver. A medical disability waiver is completed by a US licensed general practitioner, licensed clinical psychologist, or other specified physician on USCIS Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Waivers. The form must be completed in a specific way and with specific words/answers before USCIS will approve the medical exemption. The doctor, to complete the medical disability form, must give her parent, the N-400 applicant, a test to determine if he or she can learn or remember basic things. This test may include having to recite the basic information that has just been explained to your parents and may also include basic tests where your parents place a circular object with another circular object, etc.
Applicants with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example, are eligible to file Form N-648, Medical Disability Waiver, which states that, due to their mental limitations, they cannot study for the U.S. history exam. Important to eligibility under Form N-648 is that the resulting mental disability cannot be the result of drug use.
Our immigration law firm has successfully completed medical waivers prepared by licensed physicians of the applicant’s own choosing for the mental conditions of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and schizophrenia. Please note that these cases listed are examples and in no way guarantee that your case will have similar outcomes for both the listed mental conditions and the USCIS district in which you will apply for citizenship. Contact an experienced immigration attorney of your choice for a detailed analysis of your specific case.
Although our immigration law office does not have any doctors that we recommend to complete the 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 on the language they require from the licensed physician in order for an applicant for US citizenship to be approved. If the Form N-648 is approved by the US Immigration Officer, then the applicant for US citizenship does not have to take any tests in order to have their Form N-400 approved and sworn in. .
Also, at least at the USCIS district office located in Jacksonville FL, we generally file a copy of Form N-648 with the N-400 application, and bring the original N-648 with us to the N-400 interview. Of course, you can provide the original N-648 on your initial filing if you wish. Just be sure to keep a copy of Form N-648, as it is not uncommon for USCIS to request some changes to Form N-648 before your case can be approved.
2. My mother is 65 years old and has resided in the US as a green card holder for more than 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 the language of her choice. She does not have to take the reading or writing test. The N-400 interview, which includes reviewing the N-400 details and asking if her mother has ever been arrested, files US taxes, etc. It is completed with the help of the translator that your mother brings to the N-400 interview. She should bring her own translator with her to the N-400 interview so the translator can translate the civics questions into her mother’s best native language.
The age requirements that exempt applicants from the English, reading and writing tests are as follows:
65 years old and have resided in the US as a green card holder for 20 years or more.
55 years old and have resided in the US as a green card holder for 15 years or more.
50 years old and have resided in the US as a green card holder for 20 years or more.
Again, applicants who meet one of the above categories need only take the civics test in the language of their choice.
I hope the above provides some answers to the questions I am asked weekly at my Lena Korial-Yonan, PA immigration law office. for the adult children of elderly parents who have had a green card for 5 years and now want to become US citizens.