For many foreign-born individuals who immigrate to the United States, living in the country amounts to only the first step toward the greater goal of obtaining citizenship. For these immigrants, filing a U.S. citizenship application means moving another step closer to fulfilling their own version of the American dream.
Immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship status file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization to begin the citizenship application process, which includes meeting certain requirements and providing specific documentation. Filing Form N-400 with meticulous attention helps to ensure U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agents approve the citizenship application without unnecessary delays or requests for supplemental information.
Before beginning the process of filing the U.S. citizenship application, USCIS guidance suggests reviewing its Instructions for Application for Naturalization. The instructions document outlines the naturalization process and provides information around individual eligibility requirements and other personal information required for filing the citizenship application form.
USCIS accepts Form N-400 applications from Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)– green card holders– up to 90 days before completing the continuous residence requirement as long as all other naturalization requirements are met when the form is filed. For most citizenship applicants, continuous residence amounts to a 5-year time frame. However, green card holders married to a U.S. citizen require only 3 years of continuous residence in the United States before submitting the citizenship application.
The current edition of the Form N-400 application that’s accepted by USCIS includes a release date of 12/23/16 and consists of 20 pages. The cost to file the citizenship application with USCIS as of May 2018 is $640 plus a fee of $85 for fingerprinting for anyone under the age of 75.
In terms of evidence that applicants are required to submit with U.S. citizenship application forms, some of the items include passport-style photos, a photocopy of both the front and the back of the permanent resident card as well as any military documents.
Once applicants submit the citizenship application form, officials check the application for completeness and establish the basis for eligibility. In cases where applicants file incomplete citizenship applications, agents could request additional information or even reject or deny the application completely. In addition to a general review of the citizenship application, USCIS agents might also request an interview where applicants will need to verify their identity through fingerprints, a photograph and / or a signature. Officials may also want to update background and security checks.
Officials reviewing U.S. citizenship applications determine whether an applicant establishes eligibility for the benefit. The agency offers notice of official decisions in writing.