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GC / Citizenship for mentally disabled person

Discussion in 'US Citizenship' started by aspiringcarbon, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    The short version: How would a mentally disabled, financially challenged person who is a long-time US resident obtain US citizenship and / or renew their green card?

    The long version: A young, foreign-born girl was brought to the US in the 1960s by her parents. The girl was born with physical and mental disabilities. The parents gave her to a US citizen, who raised her as his daughter. She has had no further contact with her parents, and she does not speak the language of the country in which she was born.

    The man never got a US citizenship for his adopted daughter, because she was / is unable to pass the test. He is now in his 70s and can't find the original adoption papers. She has her birth certificate, but it's nearly impossible to read. She has green card status.

    In the years since, the girl (now a woman) married a US citizen and had 3 children with him. They divorced. She married another US citizen and has been with him for 15 years. The woman is now in her 50s.

    She receives a small Social Security disability payment, in addition to her husband's small wage, but they have huge outstanding medical bills. (Her husband's health is also very bad.)

    Financial problems kept them from renewing her green card. It's been expired for 3 years. During that time, they changed their home address.

    Her husband is a long-distance driver and is very rarely home. He has no internet access. She is mentally unable to use the internet. Her children won't / can't help her, and none of them understand the USCIS forms. They don't have the money to hire an attorney.

    As I understand it, if she goes to a USCIS location for help, they may deport her because she failed to update her address. In addition, the husband wants to move them to a country (not the country of her birth) where it will be cheaper for them to live, and where they will be able to receive government health care. Again, as I understand it, she will lose her US residency if she goes with him without first getting her US citizenship.

    This is literally a life or death situation for this couple. Is there any hope?
  2. TheRealCanadian

    TheRealCanadian Volunteer Moderator

    Why not? Are the children mentally disabled as well, or estranged? At the very least she should file an AR-11.

    What country do they want to move to, and are they eligible to immigrate there?

    It appears that she might be able to get the English/civics requirement for naturalization waived if a medical professional can fill out an N-648 for her, but the bigger question is why she wants to preserve US residency.

    I don't understand? If she is going to die by not being in the US, she should simply stay here. If she's going to get health care in the foreign country, she should move there. What's the life and death situation? Who's going to die?
  3. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    Did he legally adopt her before she turned 16? Was he married to a US citizen who also adopted her, or did he adopt her by himself while unmarried? If yes to both questions, she might be a US citizen.

    It probably is possible to obtain another copy of the adoption papers through the government department and/or adoption agency that facilitated the adoption.

    If he did what was necessary before she turned 18, there would be no test for her to take in order for her to obtain citizenship.

    They're not going to deport her for that. It is extremely rare to be deported for this reason, and to deport for this reason the failure to update the address must be knowing and willful. With her mental disability, it's unlikely any court would believe it was knowing and willful.

    Help her to file the AR-11 now to update her address, and don't worry about her being deported.

    It's not that expensive to hire an attorney for a one-hour consultation. That's only about $200-$400. If you need them to handle the citizenship case end to end, that would be thousands of dollars, but it shouldn't be necessary to do that. Get a one-hour consultation from an attorney to help you figure out how to have her complete the naturalization process with the disability waiver, or to figure out how she would qualify for derivative citizenship based on her adoption.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2010
  4. BigJoe5

    BigJoe5 Registered Users (C)

    A person will not be deported for faiiling to change their address although it is actually a deporation ground. The old INS only ever enforced it once because a legal technicality threw out a criminal conviction of someone who actually was guilty and that was the only legal ground they could come up with to get rid of the scumbag.

    Form I-912 is the fee waiver application. Send it along with the N-400. People often think that the citizenship test is harder than it really is, if she was able to get married and raise 3 kids, she can probably pass the test.

    IF (and I doubt she is that bad off) but IF she is truely mentally incapable of learning English and is unable to pass the simple civics test. Her primary Doctor can fill out a form N-648 for a medical disability waiver. IF her Doctor does not believe that she is incapable of learning or demonstrating her knowledge of simple English and simple civics questions then she just needs to study a little bit.

    Since you are her friend and trying to help her, go to www.uscis.gov print out the N-400, I-912, civics question flash cards and N-648.

    She has had her greencard long enough and she is old enough to get a basic English waiver anyway. 55/15 or 50/20 (age/years with greencard). An N-648 would need to show that she is incapable of learning some simple civics knowledge.

    Citizenship may be very important if she outlives her husband, USC widows pay less inheritance taxes than LPR widows.

    If she moeved abroad she could lose her greencard after a year.
  5. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)


    Thanks for replying.

    Her children are all adults with children of their own now. One is mentally disabled. One is estranged. The only one that's still near her and somewhat functional has psychological and other problems that make her extremely difficult to work with.

    Thanks for the heads up on the AR-11 / Change of Address form. I'll download and fill it out, and send it to her to sign and mail. Can she use this form even if her green card is expired?

    Her husband wants to move them to Central America, where his mother lives. I just looked up Form N-648 - Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions. I think her father is working on this right now, but I'll ask to be sure. It says it should be submitted along with a completed N-400, Application for Naturalization. This has a filing fee total of $680, which may be beyond their financial means.

    She wants to preserve US residency because all her children, her father, her sister (also mentally retarded) and everyone else she's ever known are in the US. Also, to be honest, the husband has been hinting at divorce for some time. He married her to help her, but it's becoming too much for him.

    Doctors told him earlier this month that if he doesn't get medical procedures soon, he'll die. We almost lost him back in March.

    She just had surgery for one of her problems, but it seems to have made matters worse. She's barely able to walk and is on self-injected morphine to deal with the pain. (This makes her even LESS functional.) He's trying to take care of both of them while working far away and with very little money.
  6. BigJoe5

    BigJoe5 Registered Users (C)

    She is NOT a USC. Under the old law, a child adopted by a USC had to swear to the Oath (or the parent had to on behalf of the child) before the child turned 18. You already said that that did not happen.
  7. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    Thanks for the additional replies!


    I don't know the details of her adoption. However, it's been so hard to get information that I'm beginning to suspect the adoption was never legalized. It was easy to get away with this sort of thing in the 60s. It looks like her natural parents brought her and her sister (who is also mentally retarded) to the US and dumped them. A nice man took them in.

    I'll keep trying to get more info, though.

    (Her sister is in a care facility, where she's been going in and out of comas for years.)

    An additional problem (as if there weren't already enough!) is that she refuses to tell doctors, Social Security and the USCIS that she's mentally retarded. She can fake things pretty well in shallow conversation. We've tried to explain to her that they need to know, for her sake, but she says they'll just look down on her and be mean.

    Do you think *I* could do the consult with an attorney on her behalf, even if I live in a different state and am not related to her? I don't think she could make it through a consult and understand anything.


    She speaks English. It's her only language.

    To give you an idea of where she's at functionally, she was very proud of herself a couple of years ago after she learned how to write a check, fill out the front of an envelope and apply a stamp. (It took YEARS for her husband to teach her this.) Then she put all the bills on top of the refrigerator. Her husband kept asking why he was being harassed for unpaid bills, and she didn't know. Then he came home and found the stack of envelopes on top of the refrigerator.

    She was so surprised that putting the checks inside the envelopes didn't pay the bills! ;)

    BTW, thank you SO much for telling me about the Form I-912!!! And for pointing out what would happen if she became a widow. And about the English waiver.

    You guys are great! I've already learned so much. :)
  8. TheRealCanadian

    TheRealCanadian Volunteer Moderator

    I'd suggest that leaving the US for Central America would probably be a really bad idea.
  9. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)


    I agree.

    Her husband is between a rock and hard place. His mother and his wife both desperately need him, his own health is horrible, and he can't be in two places at once. He really wants to go to Central America without his wife, but then, who would take care of her?

    I *so* wish that one of her children would get their acts together enough to care for her. Then she could stay in the US, and her husband could go where he needs (and wants) to be. Sigh.

    I've tried talking her into letting him go, but she feels that he's the only one that will help her. (And at this point, she's right.) I've told her that the state may actually help her more than her husband can. I get nowhere. She threatens to kill herself if he leaves her.
  10. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    It seems important for her to get her citizenship regardless of what she decides to do.

    Does she need to renew her green card before she can apply for citizenship?

    Can she use AR-11, Change of Address, before she renews her green card, or would that flag her file?

    Can a person unrelated to her do a consult with an immigration attorney on her behalf?

    Would this even be worthwhile if the consult was in a different state?

    What kind of doctor would she need to see to certify her physical and mental disabilities? (I will work harder for her to understand why this is so important.)

    Thanks in advance!
  11. TheRealCanadian

    TheRealCanadian Volunteer Moderator

    That's legitimate. The concern is what would happen to her there. If she doesn't understand the language or have any support network there, she's got zero margin in case anything goes wrong. I'd be concerned if it was me, and I can function independently. She apparently can't.

    I'd work with the estranged child, assuming he or she is mentally and psychologically capable.

    If she's suicidal then she needs medical help, right away. This is NOT something that's going to get resolved by moving away to Central America.
  12. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    Thanks for your reply.

    I'm communicating with the husband now. There are things I didn't know or was misinformed about. (Easy when I'm getting conflicting info from multiple sources!)

    He sounds determined to take her with him. The estranged child is in the middle of his own nightmare and can't help. I've strongly voiced my concerns. We've agreed that she needs her US citizenship regardless of what happens.

    I've downloaded all the forms. He'll call the USCIS customer service number tomorrow with various questions. He's apparently already been through all this once before, and it fell apart (not the USCIS's fault), but he's willing to try again. The good news is that he does have acceptable proof of her mental condition.

    As for suicide threats and attempts, they're coming from all sides. Professionals are already involved. Meds have been prescribed. One can only do so much. But thank you for your concern.
  13. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    She needs to at least apply for the renewal, or the lack of a valid GC it is likely to create problems and delays with the citizenship process, given how long it has expired.

    But she doesn't need to wait for the renewal process to be completed. Upon applying for the renewal with form I-90, within a few weeks USCIS will send a receipt notice, and that notice can be take to a USCIS office (normally during the fingerprint appointment for the GC renewal) to get an I-551 stamped in her passport. The I-551 stamp serves as temporary proof of green card status. Does she have a valid passport?

    She must file the AR-11 regardless of green card renewal. It is a form that all noncitizens are supposed to file when they change address, whether they have a green card, nonimmigrant visa, or no status at all.

    Ask the attorney!

    Immigration is federal law; an immigration attorney licensed in any state can do work for a client in any other state.
  14. Jackolantern

    Jackolantern Registered Users (C)

    That will be a useless effort. The phone people are poorly trained and will often give wrong answers or tell you nothing at all. Don't ever rely on their answers for a difficult situation like this one.
  15. jayoa

    jayoa Registered Users (C)

    If you look in page 28 of the civics test for naturalization, you will find exceptions for medically challened people; Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions). Get that form to a doctor to certify the disability for the applicant and file it along with the N400 so she is excepted from the test for citizenship. Here; http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/us...nnel=db029c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

    Wish me luck on my interview tomorrow morning, I should post my experience in the Washington DC thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2010
  16. BigJoe5

    BigJoe5 Registered Users (C)

    I wonder what the immigration laws and processes are in that Central American country that her husband wants to take her to?
  17. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    Jackolantern: Thanks for all the answers to my questions! Also, thanks for the tip on the Customer Service Center. The husband groaned when I suggested calling them. He's been through their maze before, and was relieved when I told him to skip it.

    jayoa: Yes, the husband mentioned that he has acceptable proof. I'm not sure yet what that is. I'll make sure that he's had a doctor certify the form. And I hope your interview went well!

    BigJoe5: I believe she can enter on a 90 day tourist visa with her valid passport (which she does have). Then she has to leave the country for 72 hours. (Easy. She'll be near a border.) They can just switch back and forth between countries on tourist visas if necessary. (Example: 90 days in country A. 90 days in country B. Repeat.) However, they should be able to get permanent residency pretty quickly, especially if the husband hires a citizen to help him run his business there.
  18. TheRealCanadian

    TheRealCanadian Volunteer Moderator

    This is going to work well until the day it doesn't. And then all hell will break loose.
  19. aspiringcarbon

    aspiringcarbon Registered Users (C)

    TheRealCanadian: Yeah, I just had that conversation with him. He's so overwhelmed that I had to back off. They're going to do this in small steps at a time, which is all they can manage. Central America is still a long way off.
  20. BigJoe5

    BigJoe5 Registered Users (C)

    Is that "back and forth" stuff legal in both those countries? Also, was that based on them having US passports? Do they need to apply for visas from those foreign countries in order to go back and forth as proposed?

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