Permanent residents use Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to apply for U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process.
Naturalization refers to the process in which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. For foreign-born persons, naturalization is the most common way to become a U.S. citizen. Nearly a million people naturalize a year and now enjoy the benefits of U.S. citizenship.
The permanent resident must meet certain requirements before he or she is eligible to apply for naturalization with Form N-400. Generally, applicants must be 18 years old and fall into one of the following three basic eligibility categories
- Have been a permanent resident for the past 5 years | Learn more
- Currently married to and living with a U.S. citizen and have been married to and living with that same U.S. citizen for the past 3 years | Learn more
- Currently serving in the U.S. armed forces (or will be filing your application within 6 months of an honorable discharge) and have served for at least 1 year | Learn more
The vast majority of applicants fall into one of the categories above. However, there are additional eligibility categories which you can find in Chapter 4 of the USCIS Guide to Naturalization.
Cost to File N-400
The cost to naturalize with Form N-400 is more than filing a green card renewal, but it is significantly less than remaining a permanent resident over a lifetime. What’s more, there’s even a fee waiver and partial fee waiver for certain qualified individuals with low income. Learn more about costs of filing Form N-400.
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What Happens After Filing Form N-400
The processing time for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, can vary from 8 to 12 months for the majority of applicants. During the process, most people will need to attend three separate appointments: a biometric appointment, naturalization interview, and the oath ceremony. The best way to ensure a smooth process and quick processing time is to prepare a strong application. Of course, you must meet the eligibility requirements. But presenting a neat and well-organized application package is also important.
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CitizenPath has several tools to help you prepare Form N-400 and resources to help you get ready for the naturalization test and interview. If you’re thinking about naturalization but have doubts, reach out to CitizenPath with your question.