What You Should Know About Citizenship and Naturalization Applications (Form N-400)
If you have a Green Card, you may be interested in U.S. citizenship. To receive this immigration benefit, you must apply for citizenship through naturalization with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The path to citizenship may appear simple on the surface, but navigating immigration is challenging for many people. The law firm of Colavecchio and Colavecchio consists of experienced immigration attorneys serving Nashville and the rest of Tennessee. Our team can provide legal advice to help you during the naturalization process.
Benefits of Being a U.S. Citizen
Possessing United States citizenship is a goal for many immigrants because of the advantages the country affords its citizens. Some benefits that come with the approval of a citizenship application include:
The right to vote
- Automatic citizenship for children under age 18
- Freedom to travel abroad and return to the United States
- Job opportunities anywhere in the country
- The ability to possess a U.S. passport
- The ability to sponsor close relatives seeking permanent residence
U.S. Citizenship Eligibility Requirements
Unfortunately, not everyone can become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process. You must first meet the country’s eligibility requirements, which include:
- Being at least 18 years old
- Having a Green Card
- Understanding, reading, and writing basic English
- Having a good moral character
- Living physically in the United States for at least 30 months out of five years before the date of your citizenship application. The time requirements can be lowered significantly if you are still married to the person that petitioned for your Green Card.
- Understanding the basic foundations of U.S. history and government
Steps of the Naturalization Process
If you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, here are the steps you can expect to follow during the process:
- Complete and submit your application package
- Receive a decision from USCIS
- Attend your biometrics appointment
- Complete your interview
- Take the Oath of Allegiance
How To Complete Form N-400
The Application for Naturalization or Form N-400 is the document Green Card holders must complete and submit to become U.S. citizens. It is a USCIS form and the first step in the process.
If you don’t want to delay processing and receive an application approval, it is vital to complete the form correctly and provide all required supporting documents. Here are some tips to help you with filling out Form N-400:
- Don’t lie about anything because dishonesty can cause you to lose your citizenship. Contact a lawyer for legal advice if you have concerns about any of the document’s questions or requirements.
- Follow all written instructions, and don’t omit questions. If you can’t answer a question, write N/A for “not applicable.” Don’t leave the field blank.
- Be thorough. If your responses require more space than the form has room for, use extra pages and write “Please see attachment” at the bottom of the question you’re answering. On the additional page, write your name, A-number, “Attachment to Form N-400,” and mention the questions you’re responding to on the extra page.
- Preserve the barcode on the form because it’s how the government agency will process the application.
- Include necessary documents in your application package, including a copy of your Permanent Resident Card, marriage certificate, two passport-style pictures of yourself, and a copy of your military or naval service orders, if applicable.
The USCIS application filing fee is $640. Additional filing fees include an $85 biometric expense and possibly an online payment if you pay for your N-400 submission via the internet. The total USCIS filing fee is $725, which is nonrefundable regardless of your approval or denial.
It’s possible to file the form for free or at a reduced cost if you:
- Are over 75 years old and eligible to omit the biometric fee
- Are military service personnel filing for citizenship under section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
The nationalization process generally takes more than ten months to complete. The speed at which the USCIS handles the application or how quickly people can get their paperwork in to the government agency can affect processing times. Applicants may apply early during the last 90 days of their three- or five-year waiting period as a Green Card holder.
The quicker you submit your application for U.S. citizenship, the better your chances of receiving a faster response.
Where To Send Form N-400
Applicants have two options of where they can submit their completed government forms and supporting documents. If filing by mail, your home state and mailing method will determine which USCIS address to send your materials to. You have the option of selecting the postal service, DHL, FedEx, or UPS as your delivery service.
Online submissions are relatively self-explanatory and allow for applicants to upload completed paperwork. Military applicants will have special USCIS addresses.
The law office of Colavecchio and Colavecchio in Nashville, TN, is here to help you on your path to citizenship. We understand the country’s immigration laws, and our team will review your entire application and supporting paperwork and guide you through the whole process. Contact our office at 615-242-3333 to get started.