Form N-400 (officially called the “Application for Naturalization”) is a government form used by green card holders who are ready to apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting certain eligibility requirements.
Filing this form with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the first step of “naturalization,” the process of becoming an American citizen.
Only individuals who have satisfied the eligibility requirements for naturalization may file an N-400. In general, you must be at least 18 years old and have had a green card for five years (or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen) — unless you’re applying based on qualifying military service. Our guide to naturalization lists all of the basic eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship.
You cannot file an N-400 if you:
Not sure if you qualify for U.S. citizenship? You can check your eligibility with RapidVisa. When you’re ready to apply, we can guide you through every milestone of the naturalization process, starting with your citizenship application all the way to the finish line. Boundless legal support plus RapidVisa speed means you get the fastest and best green card and naturalization service!
The current government fee for filing an N-400 is $725, including $640 for processing and $85 for biometrics services, both nonrefundable whether the application is approved or denied.
Certain applicants, however, are eligible for a reduction or waiver of the fees. (Boundless has a detailed guide on the full cost of naturalization.)
The current average processing time for naturalization applications is a little over 10 months.
Generally, however, the speed of processing depends on the USCIS field office handling the application, and some applicants can get a head start on the process (see “Filing Early” below). Our detailed guide to the U.S. citizenship timeline has more details on what to expect during each stage of the naturalization process.
Yes, you may file your N-400 online unless you are applying from abroad or are applying for a fee reduction or waiver, in which case you must use the paper Form N-400 and file by mail.
To apply online, you must create an online account with USCIS and sign your application electronically (by typing your full name at the end of the application).
Where you must send your N-400 application and materials depends on whether you file online or by mail. If you’re filing by mail, the USCIS address to send your materials to will depend on the state in which you live and the delivery service you choose (U.S. Postal Service vs. FedEx, UPS, or DHL).
If you’re applying based on your (or your family member’s) military service, you will send your N-400 materials to a special address, depending also on the delivery method you choose.
USCIS provides a list of the addresses to which applicants must send their N-400 (see “Where to File” tab).
IMPORTANT: Make sure to make a copy of your completed N-400 before you submit it to USCIS. Your citizenship interview will focus largely on the answers you provided on your naturalization application. It’s important to review those answers prior to attending your interview.
The 90-day early-filing rule: You may file your naturalization application with USCIS as early as 90 days before the end of your three- or five-year wait period as a green card holder — as long as you’ve met all other eligibility criteria. (Boundless has a detailed guide on naturalization eligibility requirements.)
To determine your early-filing date, you must find the date on your green card (officially called a “Permanent Resident Card”); add three or five years, whichever is applicable; then subtract 90 days. (USCIS provides a calculator to help you determine your 90-day early filing date. For the “Anniversary Date,” you’ll need to enter the date that is three or five years from the date on your Permanent Resident Card.)
Let’s assume, for instance, that you’re a green card holder with no special circumstances, in which case your wait period is five years. If the date on your Permanent Resident Card is January 1, 2013, then you become eligible for naturalization on January 1, 2018. Ninety days before that would be October 3, 2017, which is the earliest date you’d be able to file.
IMPORTANT: You cannot actually become a U.S. citizen until after you’ve waited the full three or five years. Filing early just gives you a head start on the process.
We’ve joined forces with RapidVisa. Together we can help you stay on top of your naturalization forms, complete your citizenship application and guide you all the way to the finish line. We’ll help you stay on top of interview preparation, follow-on forms, and every other important milestone along the way.
All naturalization applicants must include supporting documents with their Form N-400. If you file your application online, you will need to upload digital copies (scans or photos) of these documents to your online USCIS account.
Required documents for all applicants include:
Some applicants must submit additional supporting documents with their N-400, based on their particular circumstances, including:
Filing your application package is only the first step of the naturalization process. It could be several months or more until you obtain U.S. citizenship. We’ve joined forces with RapidVisa to guide you through to the end, helping you stay on top of interview preparation, follow-on forms, and every other important milestone along the way.
You can follow these tips to help ensure a smooth N-400 application process (if you’re filing by mail):
Do use black ink only. USCIS is very particular about the color of ink used to complete an application, which is why it’s best to fill out the form electronically then print it afterward or use a service like Boundless, which will print out all your forms and documents, assembled precisely how the government prefers (learn more about our services). If you decide to complete your application by hand, make sure to use the correct color of ink to prevent any delays.
Do review your Form N-400 before filing. It’s important to make sure that all of your answers are correct and all supporting documents are included with your application before you send your materials to the U.S. government. Any missing information or document could delay processing. Worse, it could lead to a denial of your application — based on a new USCIS policy that raises the stakes of completing immigration applications accurately the first time — which means you would need to go through the process again and pay the filing fee a second time.
Do provide translations. If any of your supporting documents was produced in a language other than English, you will need to obtain a certified English translation of that document with your N-400 application.
Don’t clutter your form. Do not highlight, cross out, or type or write beyond the space provided for your answer. If you need to correct your answer to a question, it’s best to complete a fresh N-400 form. USCIS prefers this instead of using correcting fluid or tape to correct an error. USCIS scans information from the application, and their machines may detect text that’s covered by the correcting fluid or tape, which could potentially lead to errors and processing delays.
Don’t submit unnecessary paperwork. The Form N-400 instructions will clearly indicate which documents are required to be submitted as photocopies versus originals. If you submit original copies of documents that USCIS did not specifically request or require, you may not get these back, as USCIS may destroy them immediately upon receiving them.
Don’t forget to sign! If your signature is missing from your application when USCIS receives it, they will most likely reject (that is, refuse to accept) your application and ask you to send a new one. A recent USCIS policy change, however, makes it imperative to follow all USCIS instructions carefully, as a single mistake or missing document could lead to a denial of your application. That means you would need to re-apply and pay another $725 to process your paperwork (unless you qualify for a fee reduction or waiver).