If you are applying for U.S. citizenship, you are likely curious about how long you will have to wait from the time you submit your application until you swear your Oath of Allegiance and obtain citizenship.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to determine how long you will have to wait to become a full-fledged citizen. Wait times can vary depending on several factors, including the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) caseload, where you filed your application if you filed your application correctly, and the complexity of your case.
However, it is possible to get a rough estimate of how long your case is likely to take. Let’s take a look at the timeline and processing time for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
N-400 Naturalization Application Timeline
There are five main steps in the naturalization process:
- Submitting your application
- Attending a biometrics appointment
- Attending your citizenship interview and exam
- USCIS making a decision about your application
- Attending your Oath of Allegiance ceremony
Naturalization Application Submission
When you submit Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, USCIS will mail you Form I-797C, Notice of Action, which serves as a receipt of your application. You will typically receive this notice two to three weeks after submitting your application.
If your application is incomplete or incorrect, you will either receive a Notice of Action rejecting your application or a Request for Evidence asking for additional documentation. After reapplying or sending the requested information, you can expect to wait for another two to three weeks for a reply.
Making sure your application is filed correctly the first time, can save you from significant delays. The total wait time for a correctly submitted application is generally between five and nine months.
Biometrics Notice & Appointment
Once your application has been accepted you will receive a notice about your biometrics appointment, including the date, time, location, and what you should take with you to the appointment. You will generally receive this notice within one to two weeks after USCIS sends you your Notice of Action.
Your biometrics appointment will generally be scheduled for a date two to three weeks after you receive the notification. At your biometrics appointment, USCIS will collect your fingerprints, photo, and signature. The whole process generally takes around 30 minutes.
If possible, attend the appointment at the scheduled time. Failure to attend the appointment can result in your application being rejected, and rescheduling can increase the time you have to wait for your Form N-400 to be processed.
Citizenship Interview Notice & Exam
Once USCIS has finished processing your N-400, USCIS will send you another Notice of Action about your naturalization interview and exam appointment. The interview will typically be scheduled for a time approximately two months after the date you receive your notice.
Like with your biometrics appointment, failure to attend will result in the rejection of your application, while rescheduling can cause significant delays.
At your interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and give you a basic reading and writing exam to test your English proficiency. They will also administer a civics test where you will have to answer 10 questions out of a potential 100 questions about U.S. civics. In total, your interview will likely last less than 30 minutes.
After your interview, the USCIS officer will approve, deny, or continue your application. If accepted, USCIS will send you a notice regarding the time and place of your Oath of Allegiance ceremony. If continued, you will need to provide further evidence supporting your application. If denied, you will be back to square one. However, there are options for appealing the decision.
USCIS Decision on Your Application
If you get approved for citizenship, USCIS will send you Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. You will typically receive this notice within a month of completing your interview.
Oath of Allegiance Ceremony
Your Oath of Allegiance ceremony will typically be scheduled for within a couple of weeks after receiving your notice. This ceremony is the final step in the naturalization process. Once you take your Oath of Allegiance, you will hand over your green card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
N-400 Current Processing Time
In the majority of cases, USCIS processes a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization in six months to one year. When you add on the time needed for your interview and Oath of Allegiance, you could be looking at as long as a year and a half. That time can be even longer if your application is not filed correctly.
To get the process completed as soon as possible, you should consider getting started as soon as you are eligible for U.S. Citizenship. You can submit your application for naturalization up to 90 days before you meet the time requirements for permanent residency before citizenship.
Additionally, using an immigration services company to help ensure that your application is filled out correctly the first time you file can help you avoid any unnecessary delays. The below table shows the service center and approximate processing time for Form N-400.
|Field Office (Or) Service Center||Processing Time|
|Agana GU||16 Months|
|Albany NY||15 Months|
|Albuquerque NM||13.5 Months|
|Anchorage AK||13.5 Months|
|Atlanta GA||17.5 Months|
|Baltimore MD||15 Months|
|Boise ID||15 Months|
|Boston MA||15.5 Months|
|Brooklyn NY||17 Months|
|Buffalo NY||12.5 Months|
|Burlington VT||15 Months|
|Charleston SC||15 Months|
|Charlotte Amalie VI||15.5 Months|
|Charlotte NC||16.5 Months|
|Chicago IL||15.5 Months|
|Christiansted VI||24 Months|
|Cincinnati OH||14.5 Months|
|Cleveland OH||13 Months|
|Columbus OH||14 Months|
|Dallas TX||15 Months|
|Denver CO||14.5 Months|
|Des Moines IA||14 Months|
|Detroit MI||14 Months|
|El Paso TX||13 Months|
|Fort Myers FL||13 Months|
|Fort Smith AR||14 Months|
|Fresno CA||16 Months|
|Greer SC||16 Months|
|Harlingen TX||13.5 Months|
|Hartford CT||14.5 Months|
|Helena MT||10 Months|
|Hialeah FL||12 Months|
|Honolulu HI||15 Months|
|Houston TX||17.5 Months|
|Imperial CA||14.5 Months|
|Indianapolis IN||15 Months|
|Jacksonville FL||17 Months|
|Kansas City MO||12.5 Months|
|Kendall FL||12.5 Months|
|Las Vegas NV||17 Months|
|Lawrence MA||14 Months|
|Long Island NY||15 Months|
|Los Angeles CA||16 Months|
|Los Angeles County CA||15.5 Months|
|Louisville KY||12.5 Months|
|Manchester NH||10.5 Months|
|Memphis TN||13 Months|
|Miami FL||15 Months|
|Milwaukee WI||13.5 Months|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul MN||16.5 Months|
|Montgomery AL||16 Months|
|Mount Laurel NJ||16 Months|
|Nashville TN||15 Months|
|Newark NJ||16.5 Months|
|New Orleans LA||18.5 Months|
|New York City NY||14.5 Months|
|Norfolk VA||15.5 Months|
|Oakland Park FL||13.5 Months|
|Oklahoma City OK||14.5 Months|
|Omaha NE||15 Months|
|Orlando FL||15.5 Months|
|Philadelphia PA||14 Months|
|Phoenix AZ||13.5 Months|
|Pittsburgh PA||14 Months|
|Portland ME||11 Months|
|Portland OR||15.5 Months|
|Providence RI||14.5 Months|
|Queens NY||16 Months|
|Raleigh NC||15 Months|
|Reno NV||16.5 Months|
|Sacramento CA||18.5 Months|
|Saint Louis MO||17.5 Months|
|Salt Lake City UT||16 Months|
|San Antonio TX||14.5 Months|
|San Bernardino CA||14 Months|
|San Diego CA||14.5 Months|
|San Fernando Valley CA||14.5 Months|
|San Francisco CA||16.5 Months|
|San Jose CA||16 Months|
|San Juan PR||16 Months|
|Santa Ana CA||15.5 Months|
|Seattle WA||19 Months|
|Spokane WA||11 Months|
|Tampa FL||14 Months|
|Tucson AZ||14 Months|
|Washington DC||13.5 Months|
|West Palm Beach FL||13.5 Months|
|Wichita KS||13 Months|
|Yakima WA||14.5 Months|
Why Are USCIS Processing Times So Random?
The wait times for one person applying for citizenship can be wildly different from the wait times for someone else. While mistakes in your application will cause delays, there are other factors that can also have a significant impact on the amount of time it will take to process your application.
Where you apply can greatly affect how long you will have to wait for your application to get processed. The caseload for different USCIS district offices can vary significantly depending on how many people are applying for naturalization in your area.
Overall, the backlog of USCIS offices has grown longer over the past several years, which means that applicants are having to wait longer for citizenship than they did a decade ago.
Can N-400 Processing Time Be Improved?
The good news is that processing times are already improving. USCIS’s processing time of Form N-400, along with other immigration paperwork, nearly ground to a halt in 2020. However, things are looking much better today.
Anti-immigration policies implemented under the Trump administration, combined with the COVID-19 global pandemic, resulted in a massive backup of applications with very little progress being made on cases.
However, the Biden administration pulling back much of the immigration policy under the previous administration paired with the pandemic finally beginning to subside has gotten things moving again. That said, processing times can always get better. More funding for USCIS to open new offices and hire more employees can lead to quicker processing times.
What to Do if Naturalization Application Takes More Than Normal Processing Time?
If your Application for Naturalization seems to be taking more time than it should, it is possible that you have missed a notice about your case from USCIS. You can check on the processing time status of your application online to see if USCIS needs additional evidence before proceeding with processing your application.
If you don’t see anything out of the ordinary when you check your case status online, you can submit an inquiry with USCIS. When submitting an inquiry you must provide:
- The receipt number of your Form N-400
- Your A-number (an A-number is the unique eight or nine-digit alien number you received when entering the country as a noncitizen)
- The date you filed your N-400 application
Get Help Completing Your Form N-400
To minimize your naturalization processing time, use an immigration services company to help you complete and file your naturalization application. At ImmigrationDirect, we have helped countless people complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. We can help you avoid simple mistakes that could increase your citizenship processing time.
The path to citizenship may be a long one, but there are ways to minimize the amount of time you will have to wait. Contact us today to find out how we can help you on your path to citizenship. We will help ensure that your application gets filled out correctly and that you have everything in order to avoid any other delays to your processing time.