Mabuhay and håfa adai! An individual applying for naturalization must appear for an interview. During this interview, the immigration officer will determine whether to grant or deny the naturalization application. There are three components of the naturalization interview: Review of the application, English examination and a civics test.
The first component is a review of the naturalization application. The immigration officer will go through the naturalization application with the applicant to ensure that the responses are accurate. If there are any changes or errors in the application, the applicant has an opportunity to correct and update his or her application.
The second component is the English examination. In this component, the applicant reads a sentence in the English language and writes a sentence in English. The following applicants are exempted from the English examination: An individual who is 50 years or older and has been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years; or an individual who is 55 years or older and has been a lawful permanent resident for at least 15 years.
If the applicant qualifies for the exemption, the applicant can also request for a translator during the interview.
The third component is the civics test. In this component, the applicant must study 100 questions regarding the United States government and history. During the interview, the applicant will be asked 10 of those questions, and must get 6 questions correct.
If the applicant is 65 years or older and has been a lawful permanent resident for at least 20 years, then the applicant will be able to take a more simplified version of the test. Instead of studying for 100 questions, the applicant will only need to study a total of 20 designated questions.
For those individuals who have certain disabilities, such as hearing impairments or blindness, certain accommodations will be given to enable the individual to take the test. For example, I have accompanied clients who are blind or are deaf, and the immigration officers have accommodated.
In instances where an individual suffers from a physical, developmental or mental impairment that prevents them from demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of the English language and/or civics requirement, an individual may obtain a medical exception, by submitting a Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form.
In the past, a Medical Certification for Disability Exception was challenging to obtain. However, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services recently revised the Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form. More importantly, on Oct. 19, USCIS announced an updated policy guidance to clarify and conform with the most recent revision of the Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form.
A Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form must be completed and certified by a medical professional. According to USCIS, the revised form aims to reduce the burdens on both USCIS and the applicant “by eliminating questions and language that no longer have practical utility or were redundant.”
The revised form also gives the medical professional the option to “indicate an applicant’s need for an oath waiver, thereby eliminating the need for separate medical documentation.” Additionally, an applicant is able to submit the Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form even after the naturalization application is submitted.
An individual who suffers from a disability but can still complete the English and civics component of the interview with certain accommodations does not need to submit the Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form. The form is only for those individuals who suffer from certain disability and ailments, and who would not be able to successfully complete the English and Civics component of the interview.
For further questions or concerns on the Medical Certification for Disability Exception Form, or various immigration issues, a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is recommended.