To apply for U.S. citizenship you need to file Form N-400 with the USCIS. This process of applying for U.S. citizenship is called naturalization.
But before you file Form N-400 with the USCIS you may need to find out if you are eligible to apply for citizenship and rule out the possibility that you might already be a U.S. citizen. Generally, you can become a U.S. citizen at birth or after birth. The below process applies to foreign nationals who want to become U.S. citizens after birth.
Step 1: Check eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship
There are different eligibility requirements and it depends on your immigration status. To make your life easier we have created a basic citizenship eligibility quiz.
But if you are the reader type, below is a list of basic eligibility requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship.
- You should be 18 years or older.
- You should be a Green Card holder (permanent resident). For most people, the requirement is to be a Green Card holder for at least 5 years. However, if you are married to a U.S. citizen then you should be a Green Card holder for at least 3 years and meet other requirements.
If you want the easy route then do check out our basic citizenship eligibility quiz.
Step 2: Prepare Form N-400
If you find yourself eligible for U.S. Citizenship then the next step is to prepare Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
USCIS Form N-400, consists of 20 pages and 18 more pages of instructions to help you fill it. Typically, immigration forms are complex and confusing and it applies to Form N-400 as well. Simple mistakes can prove to be a big deal.
Mistakes could lead to rejection or sometimes denials and you could lose the USCIS filing fee. Then you might have to go through the process again and also pay the filing fees once more. So to avoid such mistakes you can use our online software to prepare and complete Form N-400. We make the form questions and instructions easier and provide value-added services to make your life much easier. Best of all, we have more than 10 years of experience and have helped over half a million people to prepare their immigration forms.
Step 3: Prepare Your Supporting Documents
When you are filing Form N-400 you also need to send your supporting documents. So it is important to prepare your supporting documents when you prepare to apply for U.S. Citizenship.
The most common supporting documents required are:
- Photocopy of your Green card
- Two passport size photos
More documents may be required on a case-by-case basis. Since you need to provide a photocopy of your Green card it may be best to renew your Green card before applying for citizenship if it is expired. Note that this is not a law, but as permanent residents are required to carry a valid Green Card as proof of their status it may be best to renew your Green card before applying for U.S. citizenship.
Step 4: Submit citizenship application filing fees
Once you prepare Form N-400 and have all the supporting documents required then you need to send it to USCIS and pay the filing fees. Currently, the filing fee for the citizenship application is $725. This includes the cost of processing Form N-400 which is $640 and a biometric fee of $85. You cannot pay for the application fee in cash. You will need to pay by personal check, money order, credit card, or cashier’s check.
If you are paying the filing fees using a credit card then you need to attach another form G-1450 along with Form N-400 and supporting documents. That’s how you apply for U.S. citizenship. But this is not the end of the naturalization process. After you apply there are few more steps to complete before you become a U.S. citizen.