Complete Guide to Form N-400 for U.S. Citizenship Application

Embarking on the transformative journey to U.S. citizenship is a significant milestone for immigrants. It represents a profound commitment to fully integrate into American society. Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is the gateway to this cherished status and a vital step in the naturalization process. This comprehensive guide is designed to empower aspiring citizens, providing a detailed roadmap to navigate the application process with confidence and ease.

From understanding eligibility requirements and completing the application form to preparing for the naturalization interview and beyond, this guide equips applicants with the knowledge and tools they need to pursue their dream of becoming U.S. citizens. Whether you’re a permanent resident ready to take the next step or a green card holder exploring the path to citizenship, this guide is your indispensable companion on the road to U.S. naturalization.

What Is Form N-400?

Form N-400, officially titled “Application for Naturalization,” is the primary application form used by lawful permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. It is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency responsible for overseeing immigration and naturalization matters.

Form N-400 collects biographic information about the applicant, including personal details such as name, address, date of birth, and immigration history. The form includes questions regarding the applicant’s eligibility for naturalization, such as their residency status, criminal history, and adherence to U.S. laws and regulations.

Completing and submitting Form N-400 is a critical step in the naturalization process, as it initiates the applicant’s formal request for U.S. citizenship. Once submitted, USCIS reviews the application, conducts background checks, and schedules the applicant for a naturalization interview, during which they will be required to demonstrate their eligibility and knowledge of English and civics.

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is not just a form, but a pivotal document in the journey to U.S. citizenship. It’s the official application through which eligible permanent residents seek to become naturalized citizens of the United States.

How To Fill Out Form N-400

​​Filling out Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is a crucial step in applying for U.S. citizenship. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you complete the form accurately:

  1. Download the Form –  Obtain Form N-400 from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ensure you have the most recent version of the form.
  2. Read the Instructions – Before completing the form, carefully read the accompanying instructions provided by USCIS. The instructions provide essential guidance on how to fill out each section of the form and clarify eligibility requirements.
  3. Provide Biographic Information – Complete Part 1 of Form N-400, which includes providing your personal information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and contact information.
  4. Enter Eligibility Information – Complete Part 2 of the form, which includes questions about your eligibility for naturalization, immigration and marital history, criminal record (if any), and compliance with U.S. tax laws.
  5. Attach Required Documents – Gather and attach supporting documents as specified in the instructions. This may include photocopies of your green card, marriage certificate (if applicable), divorce decree(s), and any other relevant documentation.
  6. Sign and Date the Form – Review the completed form to ensure accuracy and sign and date it in the designated spaces. By signing the form, you certify under penalty of perjury that the information provided is true and correct to the best of your knowledge.
  7. Submit the Form – Mail the completed Form N-400 and the required filing fee and supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address as indicated in the instructions. Remember to retain a copy of the completed form and any supporting documentation for your records.
  8. Await USCIS Notification – After submitting Form N-400, USCIS will review your application, conduct background checks, and schedule you for a naturalization interview. Be sure to respond promptly to requests for additional information or documentation from USCIS.

By following these steps and carefully completing Form N-400 in accordance with USCIS instructions, you can initiate the process of applying for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. If you have any questions or concerns during the process, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney or accredited representative.

Form N-400 Required Documents

When filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, applicants must submit various supporting documents to USCIS to demonstrate their eligibility for naturalization. While the specific documents needed may vary depending on individual circumstances, typical required documents include:

  • Photocopy of Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) – Applicants must include a clear photocopy of both sides of their current Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551, commonly known as a green card).
  • Passport-style Photographs – Applicants must provide two identical passport-style photographs taken within 30 days of applying. The photographs must meet USCIS specifications for size, format, and quality.
  • Marriage Certificate(s) – If applicable, applicants must provide certified copies of marriage certificates for all marriages, along with divorce decrees or death certificates to document the termination of any previous marriages.
  • Selective Service Registration – Male applicants between 18 and 26 must provide documentation of Selective Service registration or an exemption from registration. This requirement applies to individuals who became permanent residents before age 26.
  • Criminal Records – Applicants must disclose and provide documentation of any arrests, convictions, or other criminal incidents, including certified copies of court dispositions and police reports.
  • Travel History – Applicants must provide details of their international travel history for the past five years, including dates of departure and return, countries visited, and purpose of travel.
  • Tax Returns and Financial Records – Applicants must provide copies of their federal income tax returns (IRS Form 1040) for the past five years or an explanation of why they were not required to file taxes.
  • Selective Service Registration – Male applicants between 18 and 26 must provide documentation of Selective Service registration or an exemption from registration. This requirement applies to individuals who became permanent residents before age 26.
  • Additional Documents – Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may be required to submit additional documentation to support their naturalization application, such as evidence of name changes, military service records, or other relevant records.

It’s essential for applicants to carefully review the instructions for Form N-400 and submit all required documents accurately and completely. Provide the necessary documentation to avoid delays or denial of the naturalization application. If applicants have any questions about which documents to submit or how to obtain them, they should consult the USCIS website or seek guidance from an immigration attorney or accredited representative.

Who Is Eligible to Fill Out Form N-400?

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is intended for lawful permanent residents (green card holders) of the United States who meet the eligibility criteria for naturalization. Eligible individuals who may fill out Form N-400 include:

  • Lawful Permanent Residents – Individuals who have been granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States and have maintained continuous residence and physical presence there.
  • Minimum Age Requirement – Applicants must generally be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400. Certain exceptions may apply to individuals serving in the U.S. armed forces.
  • Residency Requirement – Applicants must have resided continuously in the United States for a specified period, typically five years (or three years for spouses of U.S. citizens) immediately preceding the filing of the application.
  • Physical Presence Requirement – Applicants must demonstrate a required period of physical presence in the United States, typically half of the required residency period (30 months for five years, or 18 months for three years).
  • Good Moral Character – Applicants must demonstrate good moral character throughout the required residency period. Certain criminal offenses and other conduct may impact an applicant’s eligibility for naturalization.
  • English Language Proficiency – Applicants must demonstrate basic proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English. This requirement is typically assessed through an English language test administered during the naturalization interview.
  • Knowledge of Civics – Applicants must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of U.S. civics and government. This requirement is also assessed through a civics test administered during the naturalization interview.

It’s important for individuals considering naturalization to carefully review the eligibility criteria for Form N-400 and assess whether they meet the requirements before proceeding with the application process. If there are any questions or concerns about eligibility, it may be advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for guidance.

What Are the Costs Involved When Filing Form N-400?

As of my last update in January 2022, the costs involved when filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, include the following:

  • Filing Fee – The filing fee for Form N-400 is $725. This fee covers the cost of processing the naturalization application and includes both the application and biometric services fees.
  • Biometric Services Fee – As part of the naturalization process, USCIS requires applicants to undergo biometric (fingerprinting) services for background checks. The total filing fee of $725 includes the biometric services fee.
  • Fee Waivers – In certain circumstances, eligible applicants may qualify for a fee waiver or a reduced fee for Form N-400. USCIS offers fee waivers to individuals who demonstrate financial hardship and meet specific income guidelines. Additionally, applicants receiving means-tested benefits or who are experiencing financial hardship due to certain circumstances may be eligible for a reduced fee.
  • Additional Costs – In addition to the filing fee, applicants may also incur additional costs for passport-style photographs, copying documents, mailing expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses associated with completing and submitting Form N-400.

It’s important to note that USCIS fees are subject to change, so applicants should verify the current filing fee and any fee waiver or reduced fee eligibility criteria on the official USCIS website or by contacting USCIS directly before submitting Form N-400. Additionally, applicants should ensure they include the correct payment amount and follow USCIS instructions for payment methods when submitting their naturalization application.

Understanding Form N-400 For U.S. Citizenship Application

In conclusion, understanding Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is essential for individuals embarking on the journey to U.S. citizenship. By familiarizing themselves with the requirements, procedures, and necessary documents outlined in this comprehensive guide, applicants can navigate the naturalization process with confidence and clarity.

From eligibility criteria to completing the application and gathering supporting documents, each step plays a crucial role in achieving the goal of becoming a U.S. citizen. By adhering to the instructions provided by USCIS and seeking assistance when needed, applicants can streamline the process and increase their chances of a successful outcome.

Ultimately, obtaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization is a significant milestone that opens doors to new opportunities and responsibilities, empowering individuals to fully participate in the rich tapestry of American civic life.