N400 Application for Naturalization
Put simply, the naturalization process involves submitting a N400 application for naturalization. The process can be lengthy, and even a simple mistake on your N400 application can result in delaying or even being denied citizenship. So, you should consult with an immigration lawyer near you to avoid potential issues.
How Does Citizenship Differ from Naturalization?
Citizenship and naturalization are two critical elements of immigration law. So it's important to distinguish the difference.
You achieve citizenship through birth, either because you were born in the United States or a U.S. territory or because you are born to parents who are U.S. citizens. The naturalization process grants citizenship upon meeting specific requirements and going through the N400 application process for naturalization.
That process requires applying for a green card, living in the U.S. for at least five years, sitting through interviews, testing, and eventually taking an oath. As mentioned, an immigration lawyer can provide counsel regarding the process.
The average processing time for the N400 application for naturalization increased to 11.5 months by the end of the fiscal year 2021. In 2020 processing took 9.1 months, and in 2019 it took ten months.
During the 2020 fiscal year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 967,800 petitions for naturalization. In that same year, more than 613,700 immigrants naturalized.
That figure represented the fewest over the last decade versus 2019 with 843,600 naturalizations, marking the most significant number since 2008. Overall, 23.2 million naturalized citizens live in the U.S., based on 2019 reporting.
You can find even more information about naturalized citizens by reading this article.
Requirements for the N400 Application for Naturalization
To submit an N400 application for naturalization, you must meet these requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old when filing the application
- Have been a lawful, permanent resident in the U.S. for the past three to five years
- Have continuous residence and presence in the U.S.
- Be able to read, write, and speak English
- Demonstrate good moral character
- Present knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Demonstrate loyalty to the U.S. Constitution principles
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance
You can learn more about citizenship for spouses and military personnel under How to Become a U.S. Citizen.
Preparing the N400 Application for Naturalization
After confirming your eligibility, you can begin the application process using form N400. The form is lengthy, and the process can get complicated. However, an immigration lawyer from our local Bucks County and Montgomery County law offices can ensure you're complete and submit the form correctly.
You can submit the N400 application either online or through the mail. The USCIS website provides the appropriate address for submission based on where you live.
If you're applying based on military service or outside the U.S., the only way for you to submit is through the mail. That same condition applies if you are seeking a fee waiver or discount. The fee is $725, including a processing cost of $640 and a biometric fee of $85.
Following submission and receipt by the USCIS, you'll need to attend a biometrics session where officials take your photo and fingerprints. During that session, you'll need to provide supporting documents, including your green card and a driver's license or passport.
The Final Steps to Citizenship
To complete the naturalization process and become a U.S. citizen, you'll test for your proficiency in English and civics. The latter includes questions related to American history and government operations. The test consists of 10 questions, and you must answer six of those ten questions correctly to pass the test.
The USCIS provides a resource center to help prepare you for the test. An immigration lawyer offers insights into the types of questions asked and provides general insights to guide you through the process.
The final step is taking the Oath of Allegiance. During that ceremony, you'll promise to fulfill the following duties:
- Support and defend the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the United States against its enemies.
- Give up allegiance to any other nation or sovereign, and renounce hereditary or noble titles, if any.
- Provide military or civilian service when called upon by the government to do so.
Following the ceremony, you'll receive your naturalization certificate.
Need Some Legal Help for the N400 Application for Naturalization?
The naturalization process is lengthy and often feels daunting. Therefore, it can pay to have the support of an immigration lawyer near you. Our seasoned lawyers and attorneys can guide you through the process to avoid delays or, worse still, mistakes that could cost you gaining your citizenship.
Get your journey to citizenship off on the right foot. Talk to one of our immigration lawyers today