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.
Before you file the citizenship application with the USCIS, you 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. Once you avail of the U.S. citizenship status, you can enjoy the complete benefits of being a U.S. Citizen.
Generally, you can become a U.S. citizen at birth or after birth. The process below applies to foreign nationals who want to become U.S. citizens after birth.
See Also: Different Ways to Become a U.S. Citizen
Step 1: Check your eligibility to apply for U.S. citizenship
There are different eligibility requirements and they all depend on your immigration status. To make this process easier we have created a basic citizenship eligibility quiz. We’ve also included a list of basic eligibility requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship below.
- 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.
- You should be able to understand and communicate in English (with exceptions depending on age)
- Displays knowledge of U.S. history and government
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.
Form N-400 is the Application for Naturalization. Form N-400 consists of 20 pages and contains 18 pages of instructions from the USCIS.
This is where we come in. Form N-400 is long and complex. Mistakes in Form N-400 could lead to rejection, denials, and a wasted filing fee. This could lead you to have to repeat the process and repay the filing fees.
That’s why our online software service is the best way to prepare your Form N-400. We make the form’s questions and instructions simple 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 successfully prepare their immigration forms.
To apply for citizenship you need to file Form N-400, which is the application for naturalization. You must also include supporting evidence for the USCIS.
Since Form N-400 is long and complex you need to make sure that you prepare your Form N-400 carefully. Check our detailed Form N-400 guide which explains the cost, timeline, and requirements for successful naturalization.
Step 3: Prepare Your Supporting Documents
When you are filing Form N-400, you also need to send in a few supporting documents. It is important to carefully prepare these documents to avoid redoing the process.
The immigration process in the U.S. is already time-consuming. If you fail to submit the required documents it could lead to longer processing time or sometimes outright denial of your application. Make sure to include all necessary supporting documents if you are filing the form on your own.
If you are using our service, make sure to follow the instructions provided.
The most common supporting documents required are:
- A photocopy of your Green Card.
- Two passport size photos.
More documents will be required based on your immigration status.
Since you need to provide a photocopy of your Green Card, it is best to renew your Green Card before applying for citizenship if it has expired. While this is not a law, it is best to renew your Green Card before applying for U.S. citizenship, for a Green Card holder is required by law to carry a valid Green Card as proof of permanent residency.
Although this could sound confusing, it is in your best interest to have a valid Green Card before applying for U.S. citizenship.
If USCIS determines that additional documentation is needed to establish eligibility, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). Responding promptly and accurately to an RFE is crucial for the progress of your application. Form I-797E, commonly referred to as a notice of action, is dispatched by the USCIS in response to the issuance of a Request for Evidence (RFE). This notification will be delivered to the mailing address you have designated in your application.
Step 4: Submit citizenship application with Filing Fee
Once you prepare Form N-400 and have the required supporting documents, then you need to send the citizenship application 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 the application fee in cash. You 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 form G-1450 along with Form N-400 and supporting documents.
If any of this seems complex, using our online software can help!
There are a few more points to keep in mind as this is a costly process.
- If your application is rejected by USCIS your Filing fee might not be refunded.
- You might be eligible for a fee waiver. If you are eligible then you need to fill out Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.
- You need to sort the final application which includes Form N-400, supporting documents, and any other forms based on your immigration status.
Step 5: Attend a biometric screening
Following your application, you must participate in a biometrics session at the nearby USCIS office. Typically, biometrics appointments are scheduled approximately a month after the USCIS receives your application. During this session, a USCIS officer will capture your fingerprints and perform a background check.
Beware of immigration scams and fraudulent services. Only use official USCIS forms and resources, and be cautious of individuals or organizations claiming guaranteed results for a fee.
In the event of a denial, understand the reasons provided by USCIS and explore your options. You may have the right to appeal the decision or reapply, depending on the circumstances.
Reasons for denial:
- Common reasons include residency issues, moral character concerns, or failing English/civics tests.
- Inaccurate or incomplete information can lead to denial.
- USCIS sends a written notice explaining the denial reasons to the provided address.
Options after denial:
- Applicants can often appeal the decision or choose to reapply, addressing the issues that led to the denial.
- Seeking legal advice, especially for complex cases, is recommended.
- Keep records, including the denial notice, for future reference.
What are the next steps in your application for U.S. citizenship?
That’s how you apply for U.S. citizenship. But this is not the end of the Naturalization process. After you apply, there are a few more steps to complete before you become a U.S. citizen. You can learn more about it from this article “Next steps after applying for U.S. citizenship”.
How can Immigration Direct help?
Since 2007, we’ve assisted more than 100,000 immigrants, guiding them through the intricate procedures of Green Card applications, Green Card Renewals, Citizenship, Employment Authorization, and various other immigration processes.
If you require assistance, please go ahead and reach us through our contact page.