Form N-400 Guide | ImmigrationDirect (2024)

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people officially become U.S. citizens through naturalization, getting the benefits of U.S. citizenship. They receive a special Certificate of Naturalization and the possibility of applying for a U.S. passport right away. Talk about joining the world with a whole new perspective!

Naturalization is when the U.S. government grants U.S. citizenship to foreign citizens or nationals after they fulfill the U.S. Congress’s requirements, as specified by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

The road to citizenship goes through Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, used by USCIS, and a naturalization interview to determine if you are eligible to become an American. Read our “Application for Naturalization” guide to learn everything there is to know about the U.S. citizenship form, N-400 processing times, costs, and requirements!

What Is the N-400 Form?

If you are a permanent U.S. resident and want to apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, you need to use government Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. It is meant for Green Card holders who meet USCIS eligibility requirements and are ready to apply for citizenship.

Correctly completing the N-400 form is critical to become an American citizen. Form N-400 must be filed at the appropriate USCIS office. As with all immigration applications, you must submit the required documentation and the filing fee. Nevertheless, before anything else, you must learn if you are eligible for citizenship.

Eligibility Criteria for the N-400 Form

You should master the basic eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. The general requirements that all naturalization applicants must meet are as follows:

  • You are at least 18 years old when filing the N-400 form.
  • You have lived physically and continually in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) for five years.
  • You can prove continuous residency in the state or USCIS district where you want to apply for citizenship for the past five years (or three years if you married a U.S. citizen).
  • As a male, you must have a Selective Service System registration if you have received your Green Card between 18 and 26.
  • You must have “good moral character.”
  • You must show proficiency in basic spoken and written English. You also need to prove the required knowledge about U.S. history and government.
  • You must swear allegiance to the United States of America.

Check your eligibility to apply to n-400 form!

When to Apply for Citizenship and File Form N-400

If you satisfy the eligibility criteria for naturalization, you can file an N-400 Form.

The early filing of Form N-400, also called the 90-day early-filing rule, means submitting the citizenship application 90 days before the three or five years mark. Check the date on your Green Card to calculate the exact 90 days before the actual date.

You can also use the USCIS calculator to learn your 90-day early filing date. Remember that USCIS will deny your application if you file it more than 90 days before what they call the “Anniversary Date.”

IMPORTANT: Early filing gives you a head start with your naturalization application. You won’t be able to become a citizen until you fully reach your 3-year or 5-year mark.

When Not to Apply for Citizenship and File Form N-400

If you are the offspring of at least one U.S. citizen parent or a U.S. citizen and live abroad, you might already be a U.S. citizen without even needing to apply for naturalization. If the criteria are met, you can request a Certificate of Citizenship. This document officially recognizes your citizenship status and saves you the time and cost of the naturalization process.

To understand if you might already be a citizen, it’s important to consult with an immigration attorney or specialist who can review your specific situation and explain the details of your potential citizenship based on your parents’ status, your personal history, age, and current location (inside or outside the U.S.).

You must fulfill all the eligibility criteria when filing the N-400 application with USCIS. If you are unsure of some requirements, check your N-400 Form eligibility now!

You cannot and should not file the N-400 form if you don’t meet the naturalization eligibility requirements.

Apply fomr form n-400 now!

The N-400 Form Timeline

If you wonder about the N-400 processing time, you must know this: once you apply, USCIS will review your application in about 7 to 11 months, sometimes more. The exact timeframe depends on the specific USCIS office handling your case.

Consider other factors that could influence the citizenship processing time: a biometric screening, then an interview to test your knowledge and eligibility, and finally, the oath ceremony where you officially become a U.S. citizen.

Here’s the kicker: the smoothest and fastest path to citizenship comes down to one thing – a flawless application. Double-check everything, ensure all documents are correct and complete, and avoid unnecessary delays.

How Much Does the N-400 Form Cost?

The price tag for applying for U.S. citizenship with Form N-400 isn’t one-size-fits-all. Here’s the breakdown:

The N-400 standard fee is $760 from April 1, 2024. It covers the general processing of your application.

IMPORTANT: U.S. immigration fees for most applications and petitions will change on April 1, 2024. Before filing any forms, check the official USCIS website for the latest prices to avoid delays or rejections. Remember, only applications mailed on or after that date are affected by the new fees.

However, you might be eligible for discounts or complete waivers:

  • Reduced fees: You can request a fee reduction based on financial hardship. You won’t make any payments if you qualify for a complete fee waiver.
  • Special fee waivers: Veterans and military personnel filing under specific qualifications (328 or 329 of the INA) don’t pay anything.

Remember, these fees are non-refundable, regardless of the application outcome. So, before hitting “submit,” double-check if you qualify for any fee breaks to smooth your path to American citizenship!

How to Pay for the N-400 Application

There are two ways to pay your N-400 fee:

That’s it! Remember, submitting the correct fee is crucial for smooth processing. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to visit the official USCIS website.

1. If you file Form N-400 online

  • Pay online through the secure payment portal.

2. If you file Form N-400 by mail

  • Money order or cashier’s check: Payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
  • Personal check: Also payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” but include your Alien Registration Number (A-Number) on the front.
  • Credit card: Fill out Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, and your application.

IMPORTANT!

  • Don’t combine payments: Each form filed requires a separate fee. Sending one payment for multiple forms could delay your application.
  • Check the details: Double-check your A-Number on checks and money orders, and ensure all information on Form G-1450 is accurate.

Check your eligibility to apply to n-400 form!

What Documents Are Required to File Form N-400?

If you apply for naturalization, your N-400 Form should include supporting documents and proof of fee payment. Are you filing the N-400 online? Great! Just upload scanned copies of the required documents.

Suppose you don’t have everything yet! There’s no problem. Start your application now, gather documents gradually, and keep moving forward! You don’t need them all at once.

N-400 Documents Checklist

If you wonder what documents you need to prepare and send with your Form N-400, we have prepared a list for you. The best way to do this is to see the complete N-400 document checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything, depending on your situation.

Required Documents

1. Photocopy of Permanent Resident Card

2. Fee payment

3. Two passport photos (if residing outside the U.S.)

Copies of other documents (unless requested original)

- Name change document (if needed)

- Marriage-based application (additional items)

1. Spouse's U.S. citizenship proof (birth cert, certificate of naturalization, passport, etc.)

2. Current marriage certificate

3. Spouse's prior marriage termination proof

4. Evidence of shared life (tax returns, bank accounts, leases, etc.)

- Proof of prior marriage termination (if applicable)

- Military service application (additional item)

1. Completed N-426 Form

- Evidence of extended trips outside the U.S. (6+ months)

- Evidence of financial support for dependent spouse/child (if applicable)

- Arrest/detention record (with no charges)

- Arrest/detention record (with charges)

- Conviction/alternative sentencing record (if applicable)

- Vacated/sealed/expunged arrest/conviction record (if applicable)

- Failure to file income tax return (if applicable)

- Overdue federal/state/local taxes (if applicable)

- Disability exception application (additional item)

1. Completed N-648 form (by a licensed medical professional)

- Unregistered for Selective Service (if male, 26+, living in the U.S., non-immigrant, 18-26)

1. "Status Information Letter" from Selective Service

Description

Both sides

Check/money order for application

Name & A-Number written lightly on the back

Completed original form

Marriage certificate, divorce decree, court document

alid for the past 3 years

Divorce decree, annulment, death certificate

Or IRS transcripts/tax returns for the past 3 years

Divorce decree, annulment, death certificate

Certification of Military or Naval Service

Tax transcripts/returns, rent/mortgage payments, pay stubs

Court orders, payment records, statements

Original official statement from arresting agency/court

Original/certified copy of complete record & disposition

Original/certified copy of sentencing record + completion proof

Court order or statement confirming no record

IRS correspondence explaining the reason

Payment agreement & current repayment status documentation

Must be less than 6 months old

Notes

If lost, include a photocopy of the Form I-90 receipt

Use A-Number on the back; credit card accepted

Follow photo requirements

Shows continued U.S. ties

Here is some extra information so you can start your N-400 application on the right foot:

Mandatory documents for all N-400 applicants

  • Green Card (Permanent Resident Card): A photocopy of both sides (Form I-551).
  • Application fee: Pay by check (write your A-Number on the back!), money order, or credit card.

Extra documents for N-400 applicants, depending on their circ*mstances

  • Married or previously married? Show proof: marriage certificate, divorce papers, etc.
  • Living abroad? Send two passport-style photos.
  • Applying based on military service? Include Form N-426 (Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service).
  • Are you looking for a disability test exemption? Fill out Form N-648 (Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions).

IMPORTANT: This is just a quick guide. Check the official USCIS website for complete details and any other requirements that might apply to you. Good luck!

Let us help you with your naturalization petition!

How to Apply for Naturalization with the N-400 Form

The N-400 application process can take two routes: online and by mail.

How to File Form N-400 Online

  • If you submit the N-400 form electronically, you must create a USCIS online account to submit your application, pay the fee, sign the form digitally (type your name at the end), and track your case status online. If you apply from abroad or apply for a fee waiver or reduction, you must file N-400 in paper form and send it via email.

How to File Form N-400 By Mail

The mailing address for Form N-400 depends on your state of residence and the type of delivery service you use. To find the correct address, go to the USCIS page “Direct Filing Addresses for Form N-400” (look for their “Where to file N-400” tab). This USCIS page offers a list of mail addresses and courier deliveries organized by state. Make sure you use the correct address to avoid processing delays or rejection.

Those who apply based on their (or their family member’s) military service must send their N-400 packet to a particular address, depending on the delivery method of their choice.

IMPORTANT: Before you hit submit on your N-400 application, don’t forget to make a copy for yourself! Your upcoming citizenship interview will primarily cover the information you provided on the form.

Think of it like a study guide: having a copy lets you review your answers, refresh your memory, and feel confident heading into the interview.

How to Fill in Form N-400: Instructions

Now that you have learned about N-400 eligibility, costs, processing times, online vs. mail application, and more, it’s time to answer a burning question we hear from all clients all the time: how do I fill out N-400 to ensure USCIS processes my application quickly and smoothly?

Here is a breakdown of how to fill out the N-400 Form (many of these tips refer to the paper format of N-400, but keep some of them in mind if you file online, too).

WHAT YOU MUST DO

Follow USCIS's instructions to the letter.

Gather all your documents.

Fill in all the N-400 application fields.

Keep the form clean.

Submit only the requested documents.

Write in black ink.

Sign and date your application.

Review the entire application before submitting it.

WHY AND HOW YOU MUST DO IT

Before filling out Form N-400, read the instructions carefully. USCIS provides you with all the information you need. A mistake or a missing document might lead to your N-400 application's denial. You might need to re-apply and pay another $760 fee.

Check the document list a couple of times before starting your application. Even if you can still gather paperwork while you apply, ensure you have all the mandatory documents ready. The Green Card, photos, payment proof, and other identification papers must be in perfect order.

Fill out every Form N-400 section/field. If something does not apply to you, write "N/A" or "not applicable."

Do not make alterations to the N-400 form. If you need to correct a mistake, start with a new form if you send it in paper format. USCIS's scanners detect corrector fluid or tape, which could lead to errors and lengthy processing.

Do not send USCIS unrequested or unnecessary documents out of enthusiasm; by no means don't send them originals. They will most likely destroy all the paperwork they didn't ask for.

When you fill out the N-400 application in paper format, use black ink/pen. Another route is to fill out the form electronically and then print it. It will make N-400 processing easier for USCIS, thus avoiding delays.

Sign and date your N-400 form before submitting it. If you use a document preparation service, they must also sign and date the form.

Ensure all your answers are correct and all the documents (including proof of payment) are included in your application. USCIS doesn't leave room for error, so missing information, false statements, misrepresentations, or missing documents are all reasons for N-400 denial.

By following these N-400 filing tips, you can help USCIS process your application with no issues, thus increasing your chances of becoming a U.S. citizen.

File n-400 with ease now!

Can USCIS Deny Your N-400 Application?

Yes. Misinformation, missing documents, incorrect fees, and other issues can lead to denying your N-400 citizenship application. Here is a more detailed breakdown.

REASON FOR DENIAL

Failing English and civics tests

Having a criminal history

Not meeting continuous residence requirements

Failing to meet financial obligations

Lying to USCIS

Failing to register for Selective Service

HOW TO PREVENT IT

* Study for the tests using resources such as USCIS websites and practice tests.
* Consider taking an English class or civics course.

* Be honest about your criminal history on your application.
* Consult with a lawyer about your options if something comes up on your background/biometric check.

* Make sure you meet the continuous residence requirements before filing your application.
* Consult with an attorney if you have any questions about your eligibility.

* Be prepared to provide evidence of your financial stability.
* Consult with an attorney if you have any concerns about your financial situation.

* Remember that lying to USCIS is a severe offense that can result in permanent denial of your application, so be honest and truthful on your application and during your interview.

* If you are a man between 18 and 26, you must show proof of your registration with the Selective Service. Failing to register can lead to the denial of your naturalization application.

Remember that this is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other reasons your N-400 application could be denied. If you have any questions or concerns about your eligibility, paperwork, etc., it is always best to work with specialized immigration experts.

Form N-400 Frequently Asked Questions

If you feel we didn’t cover everything you need to know about Form N-400: Application for Naturalization, check out the section below to get more answers from people with the same questions and concerns!

I've moved after filing my N-400 application. What should I do next?

Be sure to let USCIS know your new address within ten days to avoid missing important updates about your application. Check their website for instructions on how to submit your address change.

Once you submit your application, USCIS will schedule an interview for around 20 minutes. This is your chance to confirm your information and answer any questions about your background. Please read this guide to learn more about the citizenship interview and how to pass it with flying colors!

You might be eligible to apply for naturalization even while your Green Card case is pending! Be sure to include the USCIS receipt notice (Form I-797) confirming your I-751 petition (Remove Conditions on Marriage) is processing along with your N-400 application.

Get Started with Form N-400 Today to Apply for U.S. Naturalization!

If you want to get all the U.S. citizen benefits, start your N-400 application now! Use Immigration Direct’s online, easy-to-use software to avoid any mistakes in your application and get customized filing instructions depending on your case!

Get your n-400 form application now!

Form N-400 Guide | ImmigrationDirect (2024)

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