May 8, 2019

An 81-year-old Iraqi refugee had applied for naturalization and twice been denied due to her inability to pass the English and civics test portion of the naturalization interview. Wheelchair-bound and suffering from early-onset dementia (Alzheimer’s), depression and congestive heart failure, the elderly applicant was unable to communicate in her native language of Arabic, much less study for the civics test or learn English, a new language.

As a refugee green card holder, she was in danger of losing her SSI benefits if she did not become a citizen. After multiple attempts to naturalize, she was eventually cut off from her medical benefits. Her daughter reached out to our Immigrants’ Rights Center (IRC) for help. IRC worked directly with the elderly applicant’s physician to obtain a medical waiver based on the applicant’s mental disability, which exempted her from taking the naturalization test and allowed her daughter and caretaker to represent her in the naturalization process.

At her next naturalization interview, IRC advocated on behalf of the elderly applicant and requested that USCIS grant her a medical disability waiver.

Not only was the medical waiver granted the same day, but the applicant also passed her naturalization interview that day, with her daughter acting on her behalf. Her family, Iraqi refugees trying to build a new life in the U.S., was grateful that their elderly mother could finally live with the comfort and stability of being a U.S. citizen granted the medical benefits she so greatly needed.

Our Immigrants’ Rights Center offers high-quality, low-cost or pro bono services to individuals otherwise unable to obtain legal assistance. We seek to assist individuals who seek asylum, legal permanent residency, citizenship, or reunification with their families as well as victims of human trafficking, serious crimes, and domestic violence.

If you or someone you is in need of immigration legal services, please report it by filling out this form or call CAIR-LA at 714-776-1177.