U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has rolled out several changes to make the naturalization process more accessible for applicants with disabilities.
After months of public feedback, the federal agency has shortened and simplified its disability waiver, which is used to exempt immigrants with physical, mental or learning disabilities from the English and civics test requirements.
The revisions largely undo efforts by the former Trump administration to expand requirements for disabled applicants seeking to naturalize.
“The recent policy change is a big step in the right direction and a major improvement over the old policy,” Laura Burdick, who works on disability waiver policies with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, told NPR.
“It takes a much more humane approach,” she added.
In a statement last week, USCIS Director Ur Jaddo said the revisions were part of President Biden’s executive order to restore faith in the U.S. immigration system.
Among the steps to become voting citizens, immigrants are tested on how well they read, write and understand English and how much they grasp U.S. history and government. Since 1994, the federal government has allowed immigrants with disabilities to receive waivers for such requirements.
In 2020, the Trump administration nearly doubled the length of the disability waiver and added unnecessary complexity, Burdick said. USCIS itself has described some parts of the application as “redundant” and has said they “no longer have practical utility.”