For proper documentation of all residents in the U.S., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has different forms for each of the many services it offers to both citizens and immigrants of the U.S. One of these forms is specifically for citizenship: the N-400 Application for Naturalization.
What is the N-400 Naturalization Application?
The USCIS is the government agency charged with the responsibility of attending to the cases pertaining to immigrants’ eligibility of working and residing in the country. For easy identification and understanding of the various applications, the USCIS has a code name for each of the forms used in filling different immigration cases at its office.
The N-400 form is what an immigrant to the United States needs to file in order to begin the process becoming a citizen in the country. Before considering the process of naturalization, you are expected to meet the United States eligibility requirement for citizens. The requirements include:
- Being 18 years and above
- Being a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if you are filing as a spouse to the U.S. citizen)
- Being a permanent resident (green card holder) of the state or district of your residence for at least three months and being of good moral character.
Meeting these requirements will pave the way for the N-400 application process.
N-400 Naturalization Processing Times
Each of the services performed by the USCIS requires thorough application processes. The timing, requirements, and money involved will be determined by the rules guiding the specific issue you intend filing for. Most of these applications involve completing some forms either as paperwork or through an online process, which will then be proceeded with a series of follow-up activities that include interviews and biometric screening.
The processing times for the N-400 naturalization application might take as little as 6 or 7 months or as long as 30 months depending on the city you are processing in, the service center you are using, the time of year, and your unique situation.
In between the day when the application process commences and the day when you will officially be a citizen of United States of America, there are several activities that will take place. The step by step of these activities after your application submission has been verified and deemed worthy of processing are as follows:
- Biometrics: You will be scheduled for biometric screening, which means that during your biometric screening, the USCIS will verify your identity authenticity by collecting your fingerprints and signature. You must provide a recognized ID at this appointment (e.g. your passport or driver’s license). If the biometric screening goes successfully, you will then proceed to the next step.
- Appointment for Naturalization Interview: Here is when the USCIS tests your eligibility status, your ability to read and write and speak English language, and your basic knowledge of the country’s history and civic values. The officers will also ask questions about your case in order to be sure of how accurate are your claims in your application form.
- Post-Interview: If after the interview, they feel there is a need to subject your application to further review, they may ask you to supply additional evidence or schedule another interview. However, if the officials think you have proven yourself worthy, they will approve you for the next process which will move you closer to your dream of becoming a citizen.
- Oath of Allegiance: If your interview session has been confirmed to be successful, then you will be given a date for the oath of allegiance ceremony. The oath ceremony is usually conducted by the USCIS official or by a judge. After the oath, you will be considered an official citizen of the United States of America.
How Much Does the N-400 Naturalization Application Cost?
The cost for N-400 naturalization is $725, which covers both the N-400 filing fee and biometric services fee. You can pay the fee with your debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. The USCIS provides a fee waiver for those who cannot afford the N-400 filing fee, which exempts them from the payment. However, before you can be considered for the exemption, you have to file an I-192 to request for the waiver and you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you truly cannot afford it.
Can I File My N-400 Naturalization Application Online?
The N-400 Naturalization Application process used to be only by mail, but presently, the USCIS has given applicants the opportunity of filing online. With this, you can begin the process at the comfort of your home or office. To file your application online, the first step is to create an account with the USCIS. Having successfully created an account which must contain your email address and a password, then you can proceed with your filing process. You can also check the status of your case as well receive updates from the USCIS. Other things you can do with your online account are:
- View the completion date estimates of your application.
- Respond to the USCIS requests for evidence.
- Manage your contact information. This online account will save you the time and energy you would spend driving to the USCIS office to submit your form.
- Also, if there is any additional information needed or a schedule for an interview, you get to receive the update and respond faster compared to mail filing
What if My Form N-400 Naturalization Application Takes More Than Normal Processing Time?
N-400 naturalization application process delay or denial might fall under the following conditions:
- If your application is outside normal processing time, you can send an inquiry to the USCIS to know the reason for the delay.
- While your application process is ongoing, the USCIS usually send a notification to you to update you on the status of your application, or to request for additional evidence. If your application processing is taking longer time than expected, to be sure you have not missed any notification from the USCIS, you will need to check your application status online.
Whichever is your own case out of the above, the following items must be included when you are creating an inquiry with the USCIS:
- The receipt number of your N-400
- Your A-number. This is the unique eight- or nine-digit alien number issued to you when you were just entering the country as a noncitizen. It begins with the letter “A” and is followed by eight or nine digits.
- The Date You filed Your Application: Your inquiry must also include the date when your N-400 was filed.
How VisaNation Law GroupImmigration Attorneys Can Help
A statistic analysis on the USCIS website in June 2018 showed that as at the time of filing the report, 750,793 applications for N-400 applications were still pending and “waiting for decision as of the end of the reporting period” and 23,918 had been denied, terminated, or withdrawn. These backlogs show the level at which many green card holders’ desires of becoming citizens have been met with disappointment. This painful experience is very much avoidable if you take the right steps to prevent it. The best way to prevent experiencing such delay is to get the service of a qualified and experienced immigration attorney to guide you through the process.
VisaNation Law Group’s immigration attorneys are well versed in the immigration services with many years of experience in starting and processing the naturalization process. They have an extensive track record of success with naturalization and can help you obtain your citizenship.
To get in touch with a VisaNation Law Group immigration attorney, you can fill out this contact form and schedule your consultation with our office today.