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 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.
Form N-400 is the Application for Naturalization. Form N-400 consists of 20 pages and to help you fill it there are 18 pages of instructions from USCIS.
This is where we come in. Form N-400 is long and complex. Mistakes in Form N-400 could lead to rejection or sometimes denials and you could lose the filing fee. This could lead you to redo all the things including repaying the filing fees.
Best of all we have more than 10 years in experience and have helped over half a million people to prepare their immigration forms.
Enough of our sales pitch. Back to the article.
To apply for citizenship you need to file Form N-400, which is the application for naturalization along with supporting evidence with the USCIS.
Since Form N-400 is long and complex you need to make sure that you prepare your Form N-400 carefully.
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 your Form N-400.
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 due to insufficient supporting documents. So make sure to include all supporting documents if you are doing it on your own.
If you are using our service just make sure to follow the instructions provided.
The most common supporting documents required are:
- 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 is expired. But this is not a law, however, since a Green Card holder is required by law to carry a valid Green Card as proof of permanent residency it is best to renew your Green Card before applying for U.S. citizenship.
We know it sounds confusing but the best bet is to have a valid Green Card before applying for U.S. citizenship.
Step 4: Submit citizenship application with Filing Fee
Once you prepare Form N-400 and have every supporting document 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 as 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 another form G-1450 along with Form N-400 and supporting documents.
We know it’s getting more complex that’s why using our online software is the best solution.
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.
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. You can learn more about it from this article “Next steps after applying for U.S. citizenship”.