With 20 pages of questions (and another 18 pages of instructions), filling out the application for U.S. citizenship can be intimidating for many applicants.
Officially known as Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, the majority of applicants can prepare the application without extensive help from an attorney. If you have a straight forward case, you can probably do it yourself.
If you’re ready to tackle the application for U.S. citizenship by yourself, go to the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov/n-400/ to download Form N-400 and the filing instructions.
If you want some extra support and the reassurance that you’re doing everything correctly, Continue reading
U.S. citizenship is perhaps the greatest benefit any immigrant can receive. It is often the pinnacle of a long journey over many years and many miles. Over 2.2 million permanent residents have naturalized as U.S. citizens in the past three years.
However, during the same period, over 261,000 permanent residents had their Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, denied. In fact, the number of denials increased in every quarter of fiscal year 2018 under the Trump administration. There are many reasons for this. We’ve compiled a list of the five common reasons for a continuation or denial of a Form N-400 application. Continue reading
The application to apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, officially known as Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is one of the longest and most involved forms that most immigrants will ever use. However, with a little preparation, you can complete the application on your own. There are several supporting documents that you’ll need to submit with the N-400 application or have available for reference. We’ve put together an N-400 document checklist and an overview that addresses the frequently asked questions about these documents. Once you are prepared, filling out the U.S. citizenship application can be a quick process.
After you’ve gone through the N-400 document checklist, be sure to review some of the most common ways Form N-400 get denied.
When applying for U.S. citizenship via naturalization, English and civics tests get much of the attention. But permanent residents often do not understand how travel abroad can affect their eligibility for naturalization.
Two related but separate requirements, continuous residence and physical presence, must be satisfied for one to be eligible to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Excessive travel abroad can adversely affect eligibility. Excessive travel can include one long trip or the accumulation of several trips over the period that precedes your admission as a U.S. citizen. Continue reading
For immigrants arriving to the United States, the American tax system can be a very new and confusing concept. In fact, the U.S. tax system is so complex that most natural-born Americans have difficulty filing each year. As a general rule, U.S. tax law applies to you if you live in the United States or spend a significant amount of time here.
In the United States everyone with income above certain levels is expected to file a tax return. That’s not true in all countries around the world. In many countries, the government withholds taxes from paychecks, and the individual never has to directly file an income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. agency responsible for collecting taxes.
Whether you are a lawful permanent resident or an undocumented immigrant, it’s important that you get a basic understanding of your tax filing obligations. Continue reading
Are you thinking about applying for citizenship but still have some lingering questions? These are the top 7 questions asked by people getting ready to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization (also known as the U.S. citizenship application).
There are an estimated 8 million permanent residents who are eligible for citizenship but are cautious because of the unknown. It’s a big step. Here’s what many of them want to know. Continue reading
As the name suggests, permanent resident status is generally constant. It’s granted to people who intend to live in the United States for the foreseeable future. Permanent residents, also known as green card holders, have the privilege of living and working in the United States permanently. However, there are ways to lose permanent resident status. Certain actions can trigger removal (deportation) proceedings and the potential loss of this coveted immigration status.
The article discusses the major ways that one can lose permanent resident status, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Only a lawful permanent resident who naturalizes as a U.S. citizen is safe from most of these grounds of removal. Continue reading
Contrary to popular belief, children (minors under the age of 18) generally cannot become naturalized citizens of the United States. By law, applicants for naturalization must be 18 years of age.
But don’t worry. This means that they cannot file the naturalization application or be included on their parents’ application. Instead, children that meet certain criteria automatically gain U.S. citizenship when a parent naturalizes, a provision in the law known as derivation of U.S. citizenship for children. Continue reading
If you’re a permanent resident in the United States, the process to apply for citizenship is fairly straight forward. After confirming your eligibility, there’s a form to file, fee to pay and a citizenship test with the interview. It may sound challenging. But as an immigrant, you’ve already overcome so much more.
The process of applying for citizenship is known as naturalization. It’s the most common way that foreign nationals become U.S. citizens. An estimated 8.8 million permanent residents in the United States are eligible to naturalize right now. It’s easy to remain a permanent resident, but there are significant advantages to becoming a citizen. In a more contentious immigration environment, it helps insulate you from problems down the road. There are also more job opportunities, scholarships for students, and independence from more immigration fees. Continue reading
U.S. citizenship carries tremendous privileges, rights and benefits. That’s why people will sacrifice so much to immigrate to America and seek citizenship. According to a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, “citizenship is a very, very valuable commodity.” If you’re a permanent resident, our Citizenship Cost Calculator can show you how much you will save over a lifetime by becoming a U.S. citizen.
There are four fundamental ways to obtain U.S. citizenship: citizenship by birth in the U.S., citizenship through derivation, citizenship through acquisition, and citizenship through naturalization. Most immigrants in the United States become citizens through the naturalization process. An average of almost one million permanent residents apply for naturalization each year.
Citizenship through Birth
Under United States law, any person born within the United States (including the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands) is automatically granted U.S. citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Citizenship through Acquisition
In some circumstances, a child automatically “acquires” citizenship even though that child was born outside the United States. At least one parent needs to be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and several other conditions must be met. When this child marries and has children, those children may also acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. The ways a child can become a U.S. citizen through acquisition generally include:
Both parents were U.S. citizens
Both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of the child’s birth and the parents were married at the time of birth, and at least one parent lived in the U.S., or its territories, or both, prior to the child’s birth.
One parent was a U.S. citizen
One parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; and the child was born on or after November 14, 1986; and the parents were married at the time of birth; and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least five years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, of which at least two years were after his or her 14th birthday.
One parent was a U.S. citizen
One parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth; and the birth date is before November 14, 1986, but after October 10, 1952; and the child’s parents were married at the time of the birth; and the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or its territories for a period of at least ten years at some time in his or her life prior to the child’s birth, at least five of which were after his or her 14th birthday.
To obtain official documentation from the U.S. government that a person acquired U.S. citizenship through one of the above methods, the applicant must file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. The laws have changed several times over the years. You’ll need to research the law that was in effect on the date of the child’s birth (and the parents’ birth, if grandparents were U.S. citizens). You can also learn more on the USCIS website. It can get complicated. So seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney that can guide you through this process. For more information, read Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship for Children.
Citizenship through Derivation
When a parent naturalizes, his or her children (under the age of 18 and living with the parent at the time) may “derive” U.S. citizenship automatically, provided they are also permanent residents. What’s more, a child who gets U.S. citizenship through derivation does not have to participate in a naturalization ceremony. Generally, foreign-born children under 18 automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if three requirements are met:
- The child must have U.S. lawful permanent resident status (“green card” holder); and
- At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen; and
- The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent.
The laws on the automatic naturalization of children have varied over the years. Making a determination if the law applies to you is dependent on the law that existed when your parent’s naturalization took place. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney that can guide you through this process. For more information, read Derivation of U.S. Citizenship for Children.
Citizenship through Naturalization
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. There are several requirements that must be fulfilled before an individual can apply for citizenship. Generally, applicants must be 18 years old and fall into one of the following three basic eligibility categories:
- 5 years as a permanent resident | Learn more
- 3 years as a permanent resident who has lived in marital union with a U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years | Learn more
- Qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces | Learn more
These are the three most common eligibility categories; the vast majority of naturalized citizens come through one of the above paths. Find a comprehensive list of eligibility categories in Chapter 4 of USCIS Guide to Naturalization. A permanent resident starts the naturalization process by filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
For more information about how to become a US citizen, download Become a U.S. Citizen – a free ebook for permanent residents interested in naturalization.
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 accept the application or petition. We provide support for Green Card Renewal (Form I-90), the Citizenship Application (Form N-400), and several other immigration services.