Per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the USCIS provides accommodations or certain modifications for citizenship applicants with physical or mental impairments that make it difficult for them to complete the naturalization process.
The USCIS will make reasonable accommodations for citizenship applicants with disabilities who need certain modifications to the naturalization process in order to demonstrate their eligibility. For example, if an applicant is using a wheelchair, the USCIS will ensure that he/she is fingerprinted, interviewed, and sworn in at a location that is wheelchair accessible.
Waivers/ Exemptions for Citizenship Applicants with disabilities
If you are hearing impaired, the interviewing officer will speak loudly and slowly or will work with you to arrange for a sign language interpreter.
If you need a sign language interpreter at the oath ceremony, you have to indicate that in your naturalization application in the section where you are asked if you need accommodation for a disability.
If you use a service animal such as a guide dog, your animal can come along with you to the interview and oath ceremony.
The USCIS is constantly working to make the naturalization process easier for citizenship applicants with disabilities. If you know in advance that you will be in need of some kind of accommodation, write a letter explaining what you will require and send it to the USCIS district office that will interview you after you receive your interview notice.
If you have a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment because of which you cannot acquire or demonstrate the required knowledge of English and civics, you may be eligible for an exemption to those tests.
Should you request an exemption, file a “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions” (Form N-648). If you qualify, you have to contact a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist who should complete and sign your N-648 form.
If you qualify for a waiver of the English proficiency requirement, ensure that you bring an interpreter.
Disability exemptions for U.S. citizenship
To apply for a disability exception, your disability
- should be at least 1 year old (or be expected to last 1 year or more); and
- should not have been caused by illegal drug use.
In order for USCIS to have enough advance notice to respond to accommodation requests, applicants should state their needs in the place provided in the naturalization application.
If you qualify for a medical exception from the English and civics requirement, you should still be able to take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. If you cannot communicate an understanding of the meaning of the Oath because of a physical or mental disability, the USCIS may excuse you from this requirement.
You can apply for citizenship even if you have disabilities using the same Form N-400. There will be parts where you need to provide details of your disability.
After you apply it could take anywhere between 1 year to 2 years to become a U.S. citizen.