Cost of Citizenship May Be Less Than You Think


cost of citizenship for new americans

One of the common reasons permanent residents don’t apply for U.S. citizenship – cost. The current fee to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is $760. That’s a lot of money, but it’s less expensive than remaining a permanent resident. There are reduced fees available to many. And the cost of citizenship will only get more expensive in the future as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) raises fees.

Determine Eligibility for Naturalization

There are approximately 12.7 million immigrants in the United States who are lawful permanent residents, otherwise known as green card holders. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an estimated 9 million permanent residents are eligible to naturalize (become a U.S. citizens). Yet many are trapped in an expensive cycle of green card renewal.

The best way to escape this cycle is to become a U.S. citizen. After naturalizing as a U.S. citizen, you won’t need to pay anymore USCIS fees or file forms. Over a lifetime, that can save you and your family thousands of dollars. In addition, studies have shown that naturalized U.S. citizens generally earn a higher income than permanent residents.

If you are a permanent resident who has lived in the United States for at least five years, you are likely eligible to apply for naturalization. What's more, spouses of U.S. citizens are generally subject to just a three-year requirement. There are several other exceptions to the five-year residency requirement, most of which affect small numbers of immigrants. Military applicants can often apply after just one year of residency. Not sure if you are eligible? You can review the citizenship requirements or start the N-400 eligibility quiz to determine your eligibility.

Reasons the Cost of Citizenship May Be Within Your Reach

You can save yourself a lot of money by naturalizing now. Here are some of the ways that you can beat the costs of U.S. citizenship:


The cost of citizenship is significantly less that keeping a green card.

It actually costs less to become a U.S. citizen when you take a look at the long term costs. How much? It will probably amaze you.

Did you know that the average 30 year-old permanent resident will pay another $5,313 over his lifetime in green card renewal fees? Check your own costs with the Citizenship Cost Calculator.

Most permanent residents have a green card that must be renewed every 10 years. The current USCIS fee for replacing or renewing a green card is $465. So every 10 years you will pay to renew a green card. Don’t forget, if the green card is lost, stolen or damaged, it will cost another $465 to replace it. And USCIS fees keep increasing for green card renewal also. Over just the last 10 years USCIS fees for green card renewal have increased significantly.

But there is a one-time USCIS fee for the naturalization application. Over a lifetime, U.S. citizenship is much less expensive. After all, you won’t ever have to pay another USCIS fee again!


You can now pay the cost of citizenship with a credit card.

If you don’t have the entire filing fee, simply submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, with your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. If you choose to pay with a credit or debit card, you must pay the entire fee using a single card.

You may use Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover to pay the USCIS fee. You may also use gift cards with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover logos.


Many families now receive a reduced fee or pay no fee at all.

To make naturalization accessible to more permanent residents, the government has established a reduced fee for many applicants. Certain applicants with very low income, even if it is a temporary situation, may not need to pay any fee.

Total Fee Waiver

USCIS will provide a fee waiver for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if you provide documentation showing that you qualify based upon one of the following criteria:

  • You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you, are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. Examples of means-tested benefits programs include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • Your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests. For example, a household of four can't have household income of more than $46,800 to qualify in 2024 (within the 48 contiguous states).
  • You are currently experiencing financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.

To request a fee waiver, you can submit Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, with your Form N-400. Be sure to include proof that you meet the criteria. Additional instructions and examples of evidence can be found on the USCIS Fee Waiver page.

Reduced Cost of Citizenship

You may request a reduced filing fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if your documented annual household income is greater than 150 percent but not more than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file.

In fact, the request for a reduced fee is built into the new N-400 application. CitizenPath can help you determine your household size and income to determine if you qualify. If you qualify for a reduced filing fee, you must submit the reduced fee ($380) for the N-400 along with supporting documents to demonstrate that you qualify. Generally, this includes your most recent income tax return or other evidence that you were not required to file a tax return.

How Your Children Get Free Citizenship

Generally, children may become U.S. citizens at no cost when their parent(s) naturalizes. The process is known as derivative citizenship.

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children under 18 automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if the following three conditions have been fulfilled:

  • At least one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization;
  • The child is a permanent resident under 18 years of age;
  • The child is residing in or has resided in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

Assuming that all three conditions are met, the child immediately becomes a U.S. citizen when the parent naturalizes. At this point, the child may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship or request a U.S. passport. This is another good reason to apply for naturalization now, before your children age out.

Filing N-400 Without a Lawyer

People with straight-forward cases can generally file Form N-400 without a lawyer. But still, the citizenship application can be a daunting process.

CitizenPath is an affordable immigration service that was created to make preparing the application easy. Designed by immigration attorneys, it’s a do-it-yourself service that puts you in control. The software helps you avoid common errors that result in N-400 rejections and denials. Alerts will let you know if there’s a problem before you pay.

There’s no sign up or credit card required to get started. Upon completion, you’ll receive a neatly prepared application that’s ready to sign and file. You’ll also get simple instructions that tell you exactly which supporting documents to submit for your situation. Customer support is also standing by to help. Try it now >

About CitizenPath

CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Naturalization Package (Form N-400), Green Card Renewal/Replacement Package (Form I-90), and several other immigration services.

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