U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on October 19, announced updated policy guidance to clarify and conform with the revision of Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
Consistent with this administration’s goal of removing barriers to legal immigration under President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, Form N-648 has been shortened and simplified, and new telehealth guidelines further remove barriers for applicants and medical professionals. The form revisions are also in response to this administration’s goal to remove barriers for underserved populations under Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial and Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. Changes were guided by public comments and feedback received in response to a Federal Register notice regarding the form, and a Request for Public Input (RPI), Identifying Barriers Across USCIS Benefits and Services, both published in April 2021.
“This is a wonderful example of how USCIS is listening to the public it serves in order to better address their needs, while fulfilling our responsibilities as an agency,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “The changes made to Form N648 are yet another way in which USCIS is removing barriers to naturalization, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012 and EO 13985.”
Naturalization applicants with a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that precludes them from fulfilling the English and civics testing requirements for naturalization, may file Form N-648 to request an exception to those requirements. The form must be completed and certified by a medical professional.
Based on public comments, revisions to Form N-648 reduce burdens on applicants and the agency by eliminating questions and language that no longer have practical utility or were redundant. Most notable changes include elimination of questions about how each relevant disability affects specific functions of the applicant’s daily life, including the ability to work or go to school. The form revisions also eliminate dates of diagnosis, description of severity of each disability, and whether the certifying medical professional has a pre-existing relationship with the applicant. Further, the form revision allows the medical professional the option to indicate an applicant’s need for an oath waiver, thereby eliminating the need for separate medical documentation.