The current filing fee for Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization costs $725 (updated-2020). This includes the $640 citizenship application fees and the $85 background check cost, also known as the biometric fee.
The cost to apply for U.S. citizenship might increase dramatically in the upcoming days. There is a proposed fee change by USCIS and if it goes live the cost would go from $640 for the citizenship application to $1,170.
The US citizenship process can be a little complex. Eligible people can apply for citizenship and the citizenship process would take approximately 6 months from the day of filing Form-N400 to getting it approved.
Applicants 75 years of age or older need not pay the biometrics fee. There is no fee for military applicants filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, under Section 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).
Recognizing that many immigrants are unable to pay the $725 fee in one shot and to ensure better access to U.S. citizenship for those who are eligible, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now allows applicants to use their credit cards to pay the fee.
Those who pay the fee with their credit cards must submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transaction. Others willing to pay the whole fee at the time of submitting their applications can pay their fee with a money order, personal check or a cashier’s check.
USCIS also grants fee waivers for those who cannot afford the naturalization application fees. This is something many are not aware of. To request a fee waiver, applicants must file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, along with their U.S. citizenship applications. Applicants also can submit written requests for fee waivers explaining the reason for their request.
Those receiving public benefits like TANF, SSI, LINK or Medicaid and whose families earn less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level are more likely to become eligible for fee waivers.
Many claim that the naturalization application filing fee discourages many eligible legal residents from becoming U.S. citizens. But they must understand the reason why USCIS charges application filing fees.
Most government agencies are funded by the U.S. government. But USCIS is a self-funded agency. 90 percent of the agency’s operating costs are covered by the fees it receives as application filing fees. USCIS spends the fee it receives on things like the employee salary, computer software, and other services it offers for free.