What Happens After Filing N-400, Application for Naturalization
As an applicant for U.S. citizenship, you’re probably anxious to know what happens after filing N-400 and how long it will take to become a naturalized citizen. Although the steps that take place are fairly consistent, the time frame can vary significantly based on the USCIS case load, the USCIS office where you filed, and your ability to properly submit an accurately prepared Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
The following list describes the basic steps of the process for most people. There is also an approximate amount of time provided. However, this time frame can vary significantly for some cases.
Receipt of Application (2-3 weeks after filing)
If your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, has been properly filed, USCIS will initially respond by sending you a receipt notice that confirms receipt of your application. The receipt notice is formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action (see example below).
Tip: Save this important letter. It contains your 10-digit receipt number. You can use this receipt number to check the status of your case here. If you didn’t receive a Notice of Action, you can make a Case Inquiry.
Appointment Notice for Biometrics (3-5 weeks after filing)
Next, you will receive an appointment notice that will include your biometrics appointment date, time and location. 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 completed before USCIS will schedule an interview.
Tip: If you are 75 years old or older at the time of filing, you are exempted from the fingerprint requirements, but are subject to all other background checks. If you didn’t receive your biometrics appointment notice, you can make a Case Inquiry.
Biometrics Appointment (5-8 weeks after filing)
The biometrics appointment, also known as a biometrics screening, is generally a short appointment (15-30 minutes) so that USCIS can collect your fingerprints, photograph and signature. Your appointment notice will tell you what you need to bring. You will be required to bring photo identification. Typically, acceptable documents include:
Tip: If you think you might have a criminal record, 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 (3-5 months after filing)
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.
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 (4-6 months after filing)
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 the applicant to read and write a sentence in English, will administer the history/civics examination, and will review the results from the applicant’s 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.
After your interview, USCIS will give you Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results. It will gives you information about the results of your interview. They will either grant, continue, or deny your naturalization application after your interview.
Tip: If you believe that USCIS incorrectly denied your Form N-400, you may request a hearing to appeal this decision by filing Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, within 30 days of the decision date.
Notice of Oath Ceremony (1-4 weeks after interview)
Soon after the interview, you will 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 explaining 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 (5-8 months after filing)
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.
After filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, the entire naturalization process can take anywhere from 5-8 months. This is an approximation. It may be shorter for some and longer for others. 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.