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Situations that allow citizenship applicants to bypass tests

An individual who lives in South Carolina and wishes to naturalize may find the tests of English language ability and civic knowledge to be intimidating. However, some individuals may be more challenged than others in learning the information and language skills needed because of disability issues. There are certain cases in which a disability could be grounds for being excused from these tests.

An issue such as brain surgery could affect an individual's memory, which could have a huge impact on the ability to learn the needed skills. Even if the language skills and knowledge have been learned in the past, some injuries or conditions could interfere with memory to the point of seriously affecting the results on a citizenship test. To obtain an exemption based on disability, an individual must include Form N-648 with the application. This is a medical certification that must be signed by a clinical psychologist or a medical doctor to explain the reason for the learning difficulty.

It is important to keep in mind that age alone is not a valid explanation for inability to learn the information and skills needed to pass the tests. However, long-time residents may be excused from these tests if they have reached a certain age. An applicant who has spent 20 years or more in the country as a permanent resident can be excused from testing if at least 50 years of age. People who are 55 years of age or greater can be excused from these tests if they have had permanent residency status for at least 15 years.

An individual who has cognitive challenges might need additional assistance during the process of naturalizing. An immigration lawyer could be helpful for reviewing relevant records and coordinating documentation needed to go with a citizenship application.

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