Filing the Form N-400 is an important part of the process of becoming a naturalized citizen.
We’ll share everything you need to know about this form, including N-400 processing time, cost, requirements and challenges.
We’ll also introduce you to our citizenship and naturalization attorneys at Spar & Bernstein, who can help you become a naturalized citizen.
What Is Form N-400?
Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, is a document used by lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) in the United States to apply for U.S. citizenship through the process of naturalization.
Submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by mail or online, 90 days before the requirement for continuous residence, the Form N-400 serves as a formal request to the USCIS to consider your application for U.S. citizenship.
The Form N-400 requires you to provide information about your immigration and employment history, along with any criminal or legal issues you may have encountered during your residence in the U.S.
Once the USCIS receives and reviews your Form N-400, you will first be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to complete security checks. Then you will be advised if additional information or evidence is required or invited to attend a naturalization interview, during which you will be asked
questions about your application and will also be required to take the required English and civics tests.
If your application for naturalization is approved, you will take the Oath of Allegiance and officially become a U.S. citizen.
Form N-400 Processing Time In 2023
N-400 processing time is 8-10 months, depending on the field office where you file your application for naturalization, as per the processing times on USCIS website.
The estimated processing time for the Form N-400 is based on the processing time of 80% of the cases received and processed during the prior six months.
Because each case is unique, these processing times should be treated only as a general reference.
Factors that can affect the N-400 processing time include:
- USCIS workload: A high number of applications can lead to longer processing times.
- The type of naturalization eligibility: Some categories, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, may have expedited processing compared to other categories.
- Application accuracy: Incomplete or inaccurate applications can lead to delays.
- Requests for additional information: USCIS may request additional information or documentation, which can extend processing times.
- Background checks: USCIS background checks can take an extended amount of time if there are discrepancies between the applicant’s background and the information stated in the naturalization application.
If your case takes longer than the estimated time shown on the USCIS website, you can submit an inquiry about the status of your application.
Form N-400 Processing Stages
The N-400 timeline includes several major stages:
1. Receipt Notice
Once you file Form N-400, USCIS will acknowledge the receipt of your application by sending a receipt notice, Form I-797C, Notice of Action.
The receipt confirms that your application has been received, while the receipt number gives you the ability to track the progress of your application.
2. Biometrics Appointment
You will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC), where your fingerprints, photograph and signature will be collected for a background check.
The biometrics appointment typically takes 30 minutes. You might be asked to bring additional documents to the appointment, including a state-issued photo identification card, a national photo identification from your home country or a driver’s license.
USCIS will collect your biometrics and conduct a background check, including criminal, security and immigration history checks. They will also review your N-400 application and supporting documents for accuracy.
3. Interview Notice
If the preliminary checks are approved, you will receive a notice for your naturalization interview, specifying the interview date, time and location.
4. Naturalization Interview & Tests
The naturalization interview takes approximately 30 minutes and includes questions about your background and eligibility.
At the interview, you will be asked to complete English and civics tests, which are meant to assess your ability to speak, read, write and understand English, along with your knowledge of U.S. government and history.
5. Decision On Application
Following your naturalization interview, USCIS will make a decision on your application.
If your application is approved, you will receive an approval notice.
If your application is missing information, USCIS may request additional information or schedule a follow-up interview.
If USCIS finds you ineligible for naturalization, your application will be denied.
6. Oath Of Allegiance
If your application is approved, you will receive a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, to schedule your naturalization ceremony.
At the ceremony, you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. and officially become a U.S. citizen.
As proof of your citizenship, you will receive a Certificate of Naturalization.
Form N-400 Cost
The total cost for filing Form N-400 is $725, which includes:
- $640 filing fee
- $85 biometrics fee
For online applications, the fee can be paid online.
For applications submitted by mail, the fee should be paid with a credit card, money order, personal check or cashier’s check.
Each fee should be paid separately. If you submit a single payment for the two fees, your application might be rejected.
Applicants who are 75 and above are exempt from paying a biometric fee.
Military applicants submitting Form N-400 under section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) are exempt from both the filing fee and biometrics fee.
Form N-400 Requirements
To file Form N-400 and be eligible for U.S. citizenship, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a Green Card for three years as a spouse of U.S. citizen or five years for other naturalization categories
- Have continuous residence for three years if married to a U.S. citizen or five years in other scenarios
- Have been physically present in the U. S. for 18 months if married to a U.S. citizen or 30 months in other cases
- Demonstrate good moral character, which means avoiding criminal convictions and other negative behavior
- Be able to read, write, speak and understand basic English
- Have knowledge about the U.S. government and history
In some cases, USCIS provides certain exceptions and accommodations to the naturalization requirements.
To check your eligibility for naturalization, use USCIS’ naturalization eligibility tool.
If you are not sure whether you meet the N-400 requirements, schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.
Helping clients from every corner of the globe for five decades, our team at The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein will review your case and provide legal guidance.
Challenges Of Form N-400
To navigate the naturalization process successfully, you should be aware of the potential challenges and risks you might encounter.
- Naturalization tests: If you fail the English and civics tests, your application for naturalization is likely to be denied.
- Documentation: If you file incomplete or inaccurate supporting documents, this might lead to delays or a denial.
- Criminal convictions: Certain criminal convictions can make you ineligible for naturalization or lead to removal from the U.S.
- Continuous residence requirements: If you are unable to demonstrate that you have continuously resided in the U.S. for the required period, your application might be denied.
- Security issues: If you were ever affiliated with terrorist organizations, your application for naturalization is likely to be denied.
- False information: If you provided false information or concealed facts on your application, this might result in the denial of your application.
- Complex legal process: The legal process of naturalization can be complex. In addition, if your application is denied, the appeal process is typically lengthy and uncertain.
The best way to overcome these challenges is to seek guidance from a knowledgeable immigration attorney, like our team at Spar & Bernstein.
Questions About Form N-400 Processing Time? Contact Spar & Bernstein
At Spar & Bernstein, we understand that the journey to naturalization is a significant and life-changing step in pursuit of the American dream.
Our team of experienced and compassionate attorneys boasts a long and distinguished history in immigration law, spanning over 50 years.
From asylum and refugee protection to family immigration, waivers and DACA, our dedicated team successfully navigates the complex U.S. immigration system, helping thousands achieve their immigration goals.
Our attorneys will:
- Provide one-on-one consultations to understand your situation and define a personalized approach to your case
- Guide you through the entire application process, to ensure every document is submitted correctly
- Help you prepare for your English and civics tests
- Conduct mock interviews to help you prepare
- Monitor your application’s progress and address any USCIS inquiries
- Provide legal support to appeal decisions if your application for naturalization is denied
The show is hosted by the President and Managing Partner of Spar & Bernstein, Brad Bernstein, and offers legal advice on both immigration and personal injury topics.
Bradford H. Bernstein
This article was written and reviewed by Bradford H. Bernstein, a second-generation leader at Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein, P.C., who has helped over 100,000 clients with immigration and personal injury issues. Brad joined the firm in 1993, became a partner in 1997, and assumed leadership in 2000 after Harry Spar retired.View Brad's Bio