EXCEPTIONS TO ENGLISH AND CIVICS TEST
One of the requirements of applying for citizenship is passing English and civics test. In general, applicants for naturalization must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage. Applicants must also demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and principles and form of government of the United States (civics).
However, some applicant may qualify for an exception from the English requirement, civics requirement, or both requirements. The table below serves as a quick reference guide on the exceptions to the English and civics requirements for naturalization.
Medical Disability Exception to English and Civics
An applicant who cannot meet the English and civics requirements because of a medical disability may be exempt from the English requirement, the civics requirement, or both requirements.
In 1994, Congress enacted legislation providing an exception to the naturalization educational requirements for applicants who cannot meet the educational requirements because of a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. The applicant must demonstrate a disability or impairment that affects the functioning of the individual such that, even with reasonable accommodations, he or she is unable to demonstrate the educational requirements for naturalization.
Illiteracy alone is not a valid reason to seek an exception to the educational requirements. In addition, advanced age, in and of itself, is not a medically determinable physical or developmental disability or mental impairment. An applicant seeking an exception to the educational requirements submits a Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
The medical professional must certify that the applicant’s medical condition prevents the applicant from meeting the English requirement, the civics requirement, or both requirements. USCIS recognizes that certain circumstances may prevent concurrent filing of the naturalization application and the disability exception form. Accordingly, an applicant may file the disability exception form during any part of the naturalization process, including after the application is filed but before the first examination, during the first examination, during the re-examination if the applicant’s first examination was rescheduled, and during the rehearing on a denied naturalization application.
USCIS only authorizes the following licensed medical professionals to certify the disability exception form: medical doctors; doctors of osteopathy; and clinical psychologists.
The medical professional must:
1. Conduct an in-person examination of the applicant;
2. Explain how the medical condition relates to the applicant’s inability to comply with the English and civics requirements;
3. Attest that the medical condition has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months;
4. Attest that the cause of the medical condition is not related to the illegal use of drugs.
5. The medical professional certifying the form may attach supporting documents, such as medical diagnostic reports and records.
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