benefits of us citizenship

Form N-400 Processing Time

Form N-400 Processing Time

What Happens After Filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

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. The following outline describes the basic steps of the N-400 time line for most people.

Form N-400 processing time line, what happens after filing for naturalization

Receipt of Application

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 3 weeks after filing. If you did not properly file your Form N-400, USCIS will send a Notice of Action to reject the application or may send a Request for Evidence that requests additional items. Either will significantly delay your request. Thus, it is vital to prepare the naturalization application package correctly and submit all required supporting documents.
I-797c receipt notice during N-400 time line

Tip: Save this important letter. 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.

Nearly 9% of Form N-400 applications are rejected, and thousands more are denied. A poorly prepared application can also delay the approval process and even create significant immigration problems. When you prepare your N-400 on CitizenPath, we provide simple, step-by-step instructions and alerts to help you avoid costly delays. We even guarantee USCIS will approve your application. No credit card is required to try it.

approval guarantee for N-400 citizenship application

Appointment Notice for Biometrics

Next, you will receive 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.
Tip: If you are 75 years old or older at the time of filing, the biometric service fee will be waived. However, you will be required to attend a biometrics appointment regardless of age. If you didn’t receive your biometrics appointment notice, you can make a case inquiry.

Biometrics Appointment


The biometrics appointment, also known as a biometrics screening, is generally a short appointment (approximately 30 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
biometrics appointment during naturalization processing time line
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 will affect the N-400 processing time. To learn more about the appointment, read USCIS biometrics appointment.
Tip: 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. A lawyer can request a background check before USCIS does and deal with it as necessary.

Appointment Notice for Naturalization Interview


After completing the biometrics appointment, USCIS will send another appointment notice for your naturalization interview. Make every attempt to attend the interview time as scheduled for you. Rescheduling an interview may add several months to the naturalization process. By now you should be preparing — go to How to Prepare for the Citizenship Interview and Test.

The interview notice will arrive by mail as another Form I-797, Notice of Action. The naturalization interview will be scheduled at a USCIS facility near you, and it probably will last less than 30 minutes.

Tip: You must notify USCIS if you change your address after filing your Form N-400 within 10 days of your relocation by filing Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address. You also must call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 to change the address with your pending N-400 application.

Naturalization Interview


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 there are any issues that are out of the ordinary, like a previous arrest or if taxes are owed to the government, then further questions and examination are usually done.

  • If you are informed at the interview that you’ve received a preliminary approval for naturalization, then 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.
naturalization interview during N-400 processing time line

After your interview, USCIS will give you Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results. It provides you with information about the results of your interview. They will either grant, continue, or deny your naturalization application after your interview.

  • Granted — USCIS may approve your Form N-400 if the evidence on record establishes your eligibility for naturalization.
  • Continued – USCIS may continue your Form N-400 if you failed a test or did not give USCIS the correct documents. This will add time to your case as you correct the problem.
  • Denied — USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if the evidence on record establishes you are not eligible for naturalization.

Tip: There are numerous free resources to help you prepare for the U.S. citizenship test and interview.

Notice of Oath Ceremony

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 that will be submitted at the actual oath ceremony. See a sample >>

Tip: If you cannot attend your scheduled naturalization ceremony, return the notice, Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, to your local USCIS office, along with a letter requesting a new date and explanation why you cannot attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony. Failing to appear more than once for your naturalization ceremony may lead to a denial of your application.

Oath of Allegiance Ceremony


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!

Tip: Review your Certificate of Naturalization and notify USCIS of any corrections to your certificate before leaving the ceremony site.

Form N-400 Processing Time Summary

After filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and related forms, your N-400 processing time can take anywhere from 8 to 12 months. This is an approximation. It may be shorter for some and longer for others. In some cases, USCIS will make a request for additional information or even schedule an additional interview. Don’t forget — you can check your case status online with your receipt number. The USCIS website also lists normal processing times. If you believe that your case is outside the normal processing times, you can make a case inquiry.