The Basics of Applying for U.S. Citizenship
The path to U.S. citizenship is paved in red tape and fraught with possible missteps. If you take a wrong turn, you may lose your chance to become a U.S. citizen. If you plan to apply for U.S. citizenship, it is the greater part of wisdom to hire an experienced, successful immigration attorney who will take the time to property analyze and present your case. However, we would like to give you a basic idea of whether you may be eligible for citizenship and the process including filing a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
H2: Eligibility to Be a U.S. Citizen
Before you apply for U.S. citizenship, check to see if you are already a citizen. This may sound odd, but if you were born in the United States or a US territory, or if one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you are likely already a U.S. citizen.
If you are certain you are not a U.S. citizen, then you must determine your eligibility for naturalization. You must
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
- Be a permanent resident of the United States for at least five years
- Show you have continuously been a United States resident for at least five years right before you filed Form N-400
- Have lived in the state or US Citizenship and Immigration Services district where you plan to apply for at least three months
- Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400
- Be able to read, write and speak basic English
- Have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government
- Be a person of good moral character. This means you must maintain the standards of a normal, law-abiding citizen. A conviction of a serious crime or lying on your application will probably result in a denial. You might also be denied if you fail to support your dependents or fail to attempt to pay back taxes.
- Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.
Submit Form N-400
Once you are certain of your eligibility, you must complete Form N-400 and submit it to USCIS along with documents that support your eligibility, two passport style photos and fees. If you would like to request an exception to the English language or civics requirement due to a disability you will also need to submit Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
The documents you must submit will vary according to your circumstances and the basis of your application. For example, you must submit a copy of a marriage certificate (among other things) if you are applying on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen. See the UCIS website for a document checklist.
H2: Where Do I File an N-400 Form?
You can file their N-400 naturalization form with USCIS either online or by mail. There are some restrictions for filing online.
H3: Filing Online
Filing online is more convenient than filing by mail for most people. When you file your Form N-400 online, you can
- Pay your filing fee online
- Check the status of your case
- Receive case updates online
- View estimates for the completion of your own case
- Respond to requests for evidence, and
- Manage your contact information. This is important in case you move.
Should you apply through an attorney, they can also create an online account for you.
Under some circumstances, you cannot apply online and must file by mail. You may not apply online if you are applying
- Based on your military service or that of a spouse or close relative of a deceased member of the military
- From outside of the U.S., or
- For a fee waiver or reduced fee
2. Filing by Mail or Delivery Service
If you apply by mail for naturalization, you will receive a USCIS Account Acceptance Notice in the mail. It will tell you how to create an online account and track your case. However, you are not required to create an online account. The USCIS will mail notifications to you.
If you live in California, you may file your application by sending to one of the following;
For U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
However, if you are applying based on being a current or former member of the military, a spouse of a current member of the military, or a close relative of a deceased member of the military, file your application at the location listed below:
For U.S. Postal Service for military:
P.O. Box 4446
Chicago, IL 60680-4446
For FedEx, UPS or DHL deliveries for military:
Attn: Military N-400
131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
What Are the Fees for Filing an N-400 Naturalization Form?
The fee for filing an N-400 form is usually $640 plus $85 for the biometric services fee (the biometric fee is waived if you are 75 or older) for a total of $725. You may pay online if you apply online. If you apply by mail, you may pay by money order, personal check, cashier’s check or by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. Fees are waived for military applicants. Remember that USCIS can increase or modify filing fees at any time without notice, which means you should check and confirm the filing fee before you submit the application.
H2: What Happens After I File the N-400 Form?
How quickly your citizenship application is processed is heavily dependent on how well you prepared your application package and the load of the UCSIS office where you filed. However, the timeline will look something like this:
- 2 to 3 weeks after submission: The UCSIS will mail a letter confirming they have received your application, or you may see this update online. The UCSIS may also reject your application outright or request more evidence.
- 5 to 8 weeks after submission: You will receive a notification for your biometrics appointment, where your physical traits such as a photograph and fingerprints will be recorded to confirm your identity.
- 4 to 8 months after submission: You will be notified of your upcoming naturalization interview.
- 6 to 10 months after submission: You will attend your naturalization interview.
- 1 to 4 weeks after your naturalization interview: If your interview went well and your documents are in order, you should receive a notice of your upcoming naturalization ceremony where you will take an oath of allegiance. Your notification will include some questions that you will submit at the ceremony.
- 8 to 12 months after filing for naturalization: You will attend your oath of allegiance ceremony where you will receive your certificate of naturalization.
Call Ghazi Law Group for a Consultation
If you are considering applying for U.S. citizenship, contact our experienced Sherman Oaks immigration attorneys at Ghazi Law Group for a consultation at (818) 839-6644 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. Don’t try to navigate the complex U.S. citizenship process on your own. Our immigration clients are located across the United States and the world, but we are in Sherman Oaks, California, close to Encino, Woodland Hills, Studio City, Van Nuys and other areas of Los Angeles County.
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