To become a U.S. citizen, a foreign national must first become a Green Card holder, that is, he must become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. To become a lawful permanent resident, his U.S. citizen family member or a U.S. employer must file an immigrant petition for him. Otherwise, he must participate in the official Diversity Visa lottery also known as the Green Card lottery program and become eligible for an immigrant visa.
However, he may not become a U.S. citizen as soon as he becomes a Green Card holder and he must wait for five years and satisfy few eligibility requirements. To apply for U.S. citizenship, an eligible Green Card holder must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. If his application for naturalization is approved and if he is found to be eligible to become an American citizen, he will be granted U.S. citizenship.
If you had become a Green Card holder by getting married to a U.S. citizen, then you need not wait for five years to apply for citizenship. That is because you may file Form N-400 three years after being granted lawful permanent resident status in the country. This applies only if you are living with the same U.S. citizen at the end of the three year period.
Filing Fee for Form N-400
If you believe that you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen, you will have to file the USCIS Form N-400, along with certain supporting documents and the filing fee. The form filing fee is $640 and along with that, you will have to pay $85 for biometrics. Hence, the total fee of $725 must accompany your naturalization application. You will have to go through the form instructions to know about the payment details. Military applicants need not pay the filing fee. Similarly, if you are above age 75, you may not be required to pay the biometric fee. A fee waiver request may be filed if you feel that you are eligible for a waiver.
Many Green Card holders are demotivated and they do not apply for U.S. citizenship though they are eligible, as they feel that the Form N-400 filing fee is too high. But they fail to understand the fact that U.S. citizenship grants them a lot of rights and benefits. On becoming a U.S. citizen, you may not be questioned about your lawful status in the country and you will be treated equally with the native citizens of the country. Moreover, you may travel outside the country freely and you need not wait for a long time in the airports to re-enter the U.S.
Moreover, you need not worry about Green Card renewal if you are granted U.S. citizenship. And you will be granted the right to sponsor Green Cards for few different categories of relatives and you can help them to immigrate to the country. The most important privilege is that you may take part in the civic life and vote in the federal elections. Hence, it is worth paying a fee to obtain U.S. citizenship through naturalization. And if you look forward to becoming a citizen of this great nation, file Form N-400 now.