Form N-400 Processing TimeWhat Happens After Filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
Steps in the USCIS Process
N-400 Processing Statistics
1. Receipt of Application
Approximately 2 to 4 Weeks After Filing
If you properly file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, USCIS will initially respond by mailing you a receipt notice that confirms receipt of your application. Formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action (see example below), the receipt notice typically arrives 2 to 4 weeks after filing. If you did not properly file your Form N-400, USCIS will send a Notice of Action to reject the application. A rejection will significantly delay your request and overall N-400 processing time. Thus, it's important to prepare the naturalization application package correctly and submit all required supporting documents. Learn how.
Save your N-400 receipt notice. It contains your 10-digit receipt number. You can use this receipt number to check your case status. If you didn’t receive a Notice of Action, you can make a case inquiry.
N-400 Rejection Statistics
2. Biometrics Appointment
Approximately 5 to 8 Weeks After Filing
Next, USCIS mails an appointment notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date, time and location. (The location will generally be the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you.) USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting a security clearance and criminal background check. Don’t be alarmed — All applicants must have background checks.
The USCIS biometrics appointment, also known as a biometric screening, is generally a short appointment (less than 20 minutes) so that USCIS can collect your fingerprints, photograph and signature. Your appointment notice will tell you what you need to take to the appointment. Expect to take some form of government-issued photo identification to enter the building. USCIS can accept ID documents such as:
- Passport or national photo identification issued by your country
- Driver’s license
- Military photo identification
- State-issued photo identification card
This is not an interview. The appointment’s purpose is to collect your biometrics information only. Try to attend the appointment as scheduled. Rescheduling the biometrics appointment will lengthen your the N-400 processing time. If you think you might have a criminal record (even a DUI), contact an immigration lawyer before going to a biometrics appointment. Some crimes will make you ineligible for immigration benefits.
N-400 Historical Processing Times at USCIS
The graph below illustrates median processing times (in months) for the previous 10 fiscal years. USCIS has made modest improvements in the processing times for the naturalization application. President Biden's executive order to make the naturalization process more accessible may facilitate improvements in N-400 processing times for 2023.
3. Naturalization Interview
Approximately 7 to 11 Months After Filing
Approximately 6 to 9 months after filing Form N-400, USCIS will mail the naturalization interview appointment notice. Make every attempt to attend the scheduled interview time. Rescheduling an interview will add several weeks to the naturalization process. USCIS will schedule the naturalization test and interview at a facility near you, and it probably will last less than 30 minutes. By now you should be preparing — go to How to Prepare for the Citizenship Interview and Test.
At the interview, a USCIS officer will typically go through the entire N-400 application to confirm that the answers previously provided are still correct. In fact, your ability to understand these questions and answers is part of your English comprehension test. Additionally, they will ask you to read and write a sentence in English, will administer the history/civics examination, and will review the results from your background check.
- If you are informed at the interview that you’ve received a preliminary approval for naturalization, the next step will be to wait for the notice with the place and time of the oath ceremony. An applicant does not officially become a United States citizen until after he or she is sworn in at the Oath Ceremony.
- In some cases, the USCIS officer will not be able to make a decision on the application for naturalization on the day of your interview. In these cases, the USCIS officer will continue your case. This may include a request for you to provide additional evidence or require a second interview. Read about the most common reasons N-400 applications are continued or denied.
N-400 Backlog Report
The graph below shows the number of open cases at the end of each fiscal year. Recently, USCIS has made some progress reducing the massive backlog of N-400 cases.
4. Oath of Allegiance Ceremony
Approximately 8 to 12 Months After Filing
If your interview was successful, you will soon receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance (N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony). The notice will include a request to answer some additional questions to be submitted at the actual oath ceremony. See a sample >>
You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. The oath is administered by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony. A court has exclusive authority to conduct the ceremonies in certain USCIS districts. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, you will turn in your green card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Congratulations!
Review your Certificate of Naturalization and notify USCIS of any corrections to your certificate before leaving the ceremony site.
Total N-400 Processing Time
As an applicant for U.S. citizenship, you’re probably anxious to know what happens after filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and how long it takes to become a naturalized citizen.
Although the steps that take place are fairly consistent, the Form N-400 processing time will vary based on the USCIS case load, the USCIS office where you filed, and your ability to properly file an accurately prepared naturalization application package.
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