Those interested in applying for a medical based waiver of the citizenship test should be aware that there is actually a new, revised N-648 form. (The N-648 Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions is submitted when an applicant for naturalization is seeking to be excused from the English language and history tests due to a physical or development disability or mental impairment.) In fact, the old version of the Form is no longer accepted, and officers at the Newark District Office over at 970 Broad Street definitely enforce this. Along with the new form, applicants should be aware of some of the recent policy changes that are being implemented, most of which are outlined in a Memo put out by USCIS in December of last year. Perhaps the most prominent operating feature of the revised N-648 process is a shift in perspective. Previous to the revision, USCIS officers often evaluated the medical opinions of the medical professionals themselves who filled out and certified the form. This frequently led to situations where an officer who was not medically trained was discounting the medical opinion of a physician or health care professional who had diagnosed the applicant. Now under the new rules, the immigration officer adjudicating the case must rely on the medical professional’s opinion as it pertains to the diagnosis and the applicant’s ability to meet the educational requirements. The officer should not “second guess” the opinion of a medical professional who has certified a diagnosis; questions should only be raised, where appropriate, only if there is some issue as to whether eligibility has been established in light of the opinion or if there are factual questions. For naturalization applicants who cannot learn English or history due to their disabilities, this is an extremely important development that will hopefully promote the expedient adjudication of N-648s.
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