N-400 - Overview
Who Qualifies for USCIS Form N-400 Application for Citizenship and Naturalization
General requirements for filing USCIS Form N-400 are below.
- Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- Be a permanent resident (have a “Green Card”) for at least 5 years.
- Show that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you apply.
- Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing Form N-400.
- Show that you have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 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 (civics).
- Be a person of good moral character.
- Demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.
When Can I File my N-400 application:
You may file Form N-400 ninety (90) calendar days before you complete your permanent residence requirement if your eligibility for naturalization is based upon being a:
- Permanent resident for at least 5 years; or
- Permanent resident for at least 3 years if you are married to a US citizen
- You must be married for 3 years and be a Permanent Resident for 3 years in order to qualify to apply for the N-400.
Physical Presence requirement for N-400 Citizenship Application:
- Out of the five years you have to be physically present in the US at least half of the time (i.e., no less than 30 months out of preceding 60 months).
What issues could prevent my N-400 from being approved?
- The most common include long periods of stay outside of the U.S. or problems with the law that could affect one’s “good moral character”.
- Prior criminal offenses are particularly problematic because they not only could lead to a denial of the naturalization application, but they could also place the individual in removal proceedings with no recourse for relief.
How do I File my N-400 Citizenship Application:
- Here are the general steps in the N-400 Citizenship Application process:
- Determine if you are eligible to apply for citizenship.
- Prepare Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
- Complete your application.
- Have two passport-style photographs taken.
- Collect the necessary documents
- Send your application package and filing fee to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox Facility or Service Center.
- Receive an appointment letter for biometric (fingerprints) services from USCIS.
- Visit a USCIS biometrics location and have your biometrics taken.
- Receive an appointment for an interview with a USCIS Officer.
- Go to your local USCIS office at the specified time.
- Bring state-issued identification, Permanent Resident Card, and any additional documents specific to your case.
- Answer questions about your application and background.
- Take the English and civics tests.
- Await a decision on your case.
How long Does it Take USCIS to Process My N-400 Petition
Current USCIS processing times for the N-400 can be found here: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do
Check the nearest Field Office.
Where do I file the USCIS Form N-400
It depends on where you live.
Either the Dallas Lockbox:
2501 S State Hwy 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Or the Phoenix Lockbox:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
How Much Does USCIS Form N-400 Cost
$595 (Add $85 biometric fee for a total of $680, where applicable. See exceptions below.)
Check is made payable to “Department of Homeland Security”.
Fees are accepted in the form of a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card payment using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
Exceptions in which the applicant is not required to pay the entire $680:
- Applicants 75 years of age or older are not charged a biometric fee, the total fee is $595.
- No fee is required for military applicants filing under Section 328 and 329 of the INA
How to Complete USCIS Form N-400
Part 1. Your Name
- Your current legal name – Your current legal name is the name on your birth certificate unless it has been changed after birth by a legal action such as a marriage or court order.
- Your name exactly as it appears on your Permanent Resident Card (if different from above) – Write your name exactly as it appears on your card, even if it is misspelled.
- Other names you have used – If you have used any other names in your life, write them in this section.
If you need more space, use a separate sheet of paper.
If you have NEVER used a different name, write “N/A” in the space for “Family Name (Last Name).”
- Name change (optional) – A court can allow a change in your name when you are being naturalized.
A name change does not become final until a court naturalizes you.
If you want a court to change your name at a naturalization oath ceremony, check “Yes” and complete this section.
If you do not want to change your name, check “No” and go to Part 2.
Part 2. Information About Your Eligibility
Check the box that shows why you are eligible to apply for naturalization.
If the basis for your eligibility is not described in one of the first three boxes, check “Other” and briefly write the basis for your application on the lines provided.
- & B. You may file the N-400 90 days before you reach five years as an LPR or, if eligible through marriage to a U.S. citizen, 90 days before you reach three years as an LPR.
- Note that if you are applying based on marriage to a citizen, you must remain married until the Certificate of Naturalization is received.
Death of the citizen spouse, even after filing the application, ends eligibility based on marriage.
- If you are applying based on military service, • you must have served honorably, in active duty or reserve service, for a year or more; be a Lawful Permanent Resident; and apply while in the service or within six months after being separated. OR • you must be currently serving in the military or a veteran who served in an active-duty status during a designated period of conflict (includes the period of September 11, 2001– present); have served honorably; and have either 1) been lawfully admitted as a permanent resident after enlistment or 2) been physically present in the U.S. or a qualifying area at the time of enlistment, reenlistment, or induction.
- You may be a member of one of several groups who are eligible to apply for naturalization, such as persons who are nationals of the United States.
Part 3. Information About You
- U.S. Social Security Number – Print your U.S. Social Security number. If you do not have one, write “N/A” in the space provided.
- Date of Birth – Always use eight numbers to show your date of birth. Write the date in this order: Month, Day, Year. For example, write May 1, 1958 as 05/01/1958.
- Date You Became a Permanent Resident – Write the official date when your lawful permanent residence began, as shown on your Permanent Resident Card.
- Country of Birth – Write the name of the country where you were born. Write the name of the country even if it no longer exists. Note that your country of birth may be different than your country of nationality.
- Country of Nationality – Write the name of the country (or countries) where you are currently a citizen or national. Write the name of the country even if it no longer exists. • If you are stateless, write the name of the country where you were last a citizen or national. • If you are a citizen or national of more than one country, write the name of the foreign country that issued your last passport.
- Citizenship of Parents – Check “Yes” if either of your parents is a U.S. citizen. If you answer “Yes,” you may already be a citizen.
- Current Marital Status – Check the marital status you have on the date you are filing this application. If you are currently not married, but had a prior marriage that was annulled or otherwise legally terminated, check “Other” and explain it.
- Request for Disability Waiver – If you have a medical disability or impairment that you believe qualifies you for a waiver of the tests of English and/or U.S. government and history, check “Yes” and attach a properly completed Form N-648. If you ask for this waiver, it does not guarantee that you will be excused from the testing requirements.
- Request for Disability Accommodations – Asking for an accommodation will not affect your eligibility for citizenship.
Part 4. Addresses and Telephone Numbers
- Home Address – Give the address where you now live.
Do NOT put post office (P.O.) box numbers here.
You must have lived in the USCIS district where you are applying for at least three months before you file the application.
- Mailing Address – If your mailing address is the same as your home address, write “same.”
If your mailing address is different from your home address, write it in this part.
- Telephone Numbers – If you are hearing impaired and use a TTY telephone connection, please indicate this by writing “(TTY)” after the telephone number.
Part 5. Information for Criminal Records Search
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will use the information in this section, together with your fingerprints, to search for criminal records.
For each item, check the box or boxes that best describe you.
The categories are those used by the FBI.
You can select one or more.
NOTE: As part of the USCIS biometric services requirement, you must be fingerprinted after you file this application. If necessary, USCIS may also take your photograph and signature.
Part 6. Information About Your Residence and Employment
- Write every address where you have lived during the last 5 years (including in other countries). Begin with where you live now. Include the dates you lived in those places. For example, write May 1998 to June 1999 as 05/1998 to 06/1999. If you need separate sheets of paper to complete section A or B or any other questions on this application, be sure to follow the Instructions on page 2 of the N-400 Instructions.
- List where you have worked (or, if you were a student, the schools you have attended) during the last five years. Include military service. If you worked for yourself, write “self employed.” Begin with your most recent job. Also, write the dates when you worked or studied in each place. Use old pay stubs, tax returns, or a phone book to find previous employers’ addresses.
Part 7. Time Outside the United States
- Write the total number of days you spent outside of the United States (including on military service) during the last five years. Count the days of every trip that lasted 24 hours or longer.
- Write the number of trips you have taken outside the United States during the last five years. Count every trip that lasted 24 hours or longer.
- Provide the requested information for every trip that you have taken outside the United States since you became a Lawful Permanent Resident. Begin with your most recent trip. Check your passport for entry and exit dates. If you do not have or remember the dates, answer this question to the best of your knowledge. This is a test of eligibility based on the requirement of continuous lawful permanent residence and physical presence. Trips outside the United States in the last five (or three) years that lasted more than six months but less than a year require a written explanation. Be sure to list all trips you have made since becoming a lawful permanent resident. Trips of one year or more may cause you to lose eligibility for citizenship or be seen as having abandoned your residence.
Part 8. Information About Your Marital History
- Write the number of times you have been married. Include any annulled marriages. If you were married to the same spouse more than one time, count each time as a separate marriage. • Was it a legally sanctioned marriage according to the laws and practices of your country of origin? How were you legally married? Give consideration to different religious authorities and the recognition of long term relationships appearing as marriage and thus given the same legal definition.
- If you are now married, provide information about your current spouse. • Were you legally divorced from your previous spouse when you married again? Do you have records as evidence of divorce? USCIS considers a person married unless he/she receives a divorce decree. Separated people are still married. Be sure to bring all divorce decrees and marriage certificates to the interview (translated and notarized, if not in English). • Do you have relatives by marriage that you want to immigrate to the U.S.? It is especially important to claim a spouse on the N-400 if you wish to sponsor him/her to immigrate to the U.S. See Chapter 10 for information on how to sponsor a relative. • Have you claimed all your previous marriages on all your past USCIS applications for consistency? Differences between applications may be seen as deception or fraud and a lack of good moral character, causing USCIS to deny you. Inconsistencies may be corrected with additional documentation and explanation but cannot guarantee a desired outcome. Approving an application afterwards is at the discretion of USCIS.
- Check the box to indicate whether your current spouse is a U.S. citizen.
- If your spouse is a citizen through naturalization, give the date and place of naturalization. If your spouse regained U.S. citizenship, write the date and place the citizenship was regained.
- If your spouse is not a U.S. citizen, complete this section. If your spouse is undocumented or waiting on a USCIS decision, possible responses to “Spouse’s Immigration Status” include: • “pending application for ___” (an application has been submitted); • “EWI” (entered without inspection); • “unknown” (the laws are so complicated that you cannot be certain); or • “none.” Note that if it appears that your spouse is in the U.S. unlawfully (without papers or out of status), USCIS may ask if you helped your spouse to enter the U.S. illegally. (See Part 10, question 22e.) You could be denied naturalization and deported for assisting someone across the border illegally. If this is a concern, see an immigration lawyer or accredited representative before applying.
- If you were married before, give information about your former spouse or spouses. In question F.2, check the box showing the immigration status your former spouse had during your marriage. If the spouse was not a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident at that time check “Other” and explain. For question F.5, if your marriage was annulled, check “Other” and explain. If you were married to the same spouse more than one time, write about each marriage separately. If you immigrated through marriage and you were previously married to someone else, but did not end the previous marriage through annulment or divorce, you may not have immigrated to the U.S. legally and could now be deported. If USCIS finds that you entered a marriage only to get a green card, USCIS may deny your application and try to deport you.
- For any prior marriages of your current spouse, follow the instructions in section F above. NOTE: If you or your present spouse had more than one prior marriage, provide the same information from section F and section G about every additional marriage on a separate sheet.
Part 9. Information About Your Children
- Write the total number of sons and daughters you have had. Count all of your children, regardless of whether they are: • alive, missing, or dead; • born in other countries or in the United States; • under 18 years old or adults; • married or unmarried; • living with you or elsewhere; • stepsons or stepdaughters or legally adopted; or • born when you were not married. B. Write information about all your sons and daughters. In the last column (“Location”), write: • “with me” – if the son or daughter is currently living with you; • the street address and state or country where the son or daughter lives – if the son or daughter is NOT currently living with you; or • “missing” or “dead” if that son or daughter is missing or dead. If you need space to list information about additional sons and daughters, attach a separate sheet of paper. The USCIS instructions clearly indicate that all children must be declared. Inconsistencies may raise questions about truthfulness, good moral character, and the ability to immigrate children in the future. If there are discrepancies between the children that you listed on the adjustment application and those listed on the N-400, you should attach a notarized explanation and be prepared to explain the discrepancy in the interview. Do not wait for USCIS to ask first.
Part 10. Additional Questions
Answer each question by checking “Yes” or “No.” If any part of a question applies to you, you must answer “Yes.” For example, if you were never arrested but were once detained by a police officer, check “Yes” to the question “Have you ever been arrested or detained by a law enforcement officer?” and attach a written explanation. Attach any supporting documentation to your explanation and bring copies to the interview. You may need to bring a legal representative to the interview. See Chapter 3 for information about Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative, and finding a legal representative. Answer every question honestly and accurately. If you do not, we may deny your application for lack of good moral character. Answering “Yes” to one of these questions does not always cause an application to be denied. NOTE: If you have any criminal history and/or good moral character problems, be sure to consult with an immigration lawyer or BIA accredited representative before applying for naturalization.
1-3. A false claim of citizenship is a serious legal problem. Seek legal advice if you answer “yes” to any of these questions.
4 & 5. This applies only if you earned enough income to file taxes. If you answer “yes,” you need to file an amended tax return and pay any back taxes you owe. Also, you need to attach an explanation to the N-400 such as the following: I, (name), failed to file income taxes for the year 2010. However, I have filed an amended tax return and paid back taxes owed. Attached is a copy of my amended tax return and evidence of my payment. (Signature) 6. The Oath of Allegiance requires you to give up any title of nobility in order to become a U.S. citizen.
- Refugees and asylees in particular should include affiliations that are related to their past persecution in their native country, as these affiliations are often contained in previous USCIS applications.
9a. Past membership in the Communist Party is a bar to citizenship. However, there are a few exceptions to the bar, for example, if you needed to join the party in order to get a job, food, housing, or other necessities.
- 13 & 14. Answering “yes” to either of these questions suggests that you either abandoned your U.S. residence or that you broke your continuous residence.
- Good Moral Character – This section is important for determining good moral character eligibility. USCIS can take legal action against you if you answer “yes” to any of the questions. If USCIS finds that you lack good moral character, you may be denied and ineligible for five years before applying again. For a serious crime such as an aggravated felony, you may be deportable. If in doubt, it is best to seek legal advice. Note that fingerprints submitted to the FBI will always show every arrest in the U.S. and the outcome, even if a conviction was sealed, expunged, or otherwise cleared.
- 16. List all citations and arrests, even for traffic violations such as parking and speeding tickets. Unless a traffic incident was alcohol or drug related, you do not need to submit documentation for traffic fines and incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine of less than $500 or points on your driver’s license.
It is very important to seek help from an immigration lawyer or BIA accredited representative if you answer “yes” to any of these questions. D. 22a.
If there is evidence of chronic alcoholism, you may not have good moral character.
22c. All drug offenses are extremely serious, and selling or smuggling drugs is a deportable offense.
22d. You may not have good moral character if you re-married before ending a previous marriage.
22e. Helping someone to enter the U.S. illegally is a good moral character problem and, with few exceptions, a deportable offense.
22g. Some USCIS offices will require you to show evidence of child support for all children under 18 who are not living with you, even if it is not court-ordered (See Part 9. B.).
Failure to pay child support could lead to a denial of the application because it shows a lack of good moral character.
Evidence of child support can include cancelled checks, money order receipts, and affidavits.
- Removal, Exclusion, and Deportation Proceedings – See an immigration lawyer or BIA accredited representative if you answer “yes” to any of these questions. You are not eligible for citizenship if a deportation order is pending against you.
- Military Service – If you left the U.S. to avoid the draft, deserted from the U.S. Armed Forces, or applied for certain kinds of exemptions from service, you may be barred from citizenship. Seek legal assistance.
- Selective Service Registration – If you knew you were supposed to register for the Selective Service and failed to register, you may not have good moral character.
- Oath Requirements – These questions determine your understanding of and willingness to take the full Oath of Allegiance.
Some people are unable to take the full oath because their religion or moral beliefs bar them from taking oaths or fighting in the military.
If you are requesting a modified oath for religious or moral beliefs, you need to attach a signed statement explaining what changes you need and why.
If you are a member of an organized religion, you should also include a letter from the leader of your church, mosque, synagogue, or other faith institution stating your name, your membership in that religious group, what your beliefs are, and what changes are needed in the oath.
Part 11. Your Signature
After reading the statement in Part 11, you must sign and date it.
You should sign your full name without abbreviating it or using initials.
The signature must be legible.
Your application will be rejected if it is not signed.
If you cannot sign your name in English, sign in your native language.
If you are unable to write in any language, sign your name with an “X.”
NOTE: A designated representative may sign this section on behalf of an applicant who qualifies for a waiver of the Oath of Allegiance because of a developmental or physical impairment.
In such a case the designated representative should write the name of the applicant and then sign his or her own name followed by the words “Designated Representative.”
The information attested to by the Designated Representative is subject to the same penalties discussed on page 7 of the N-400 instructions.
By signing, you indicate that the information provided and documents submitted are correct to the best of your knowledge.
Knowingly providing false information is a basis for denying naturalization.
Do not sign, date, and submit the application until you meet the residency requirement of four years and nine months (or two years and nine months if you are applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen). Otherwise, USCIS will deny your application.
If you are applying for the 50/20 or 55/15 English exemption or the 65/20 special consideration, do not sign, date, and submit the application until you meet the age and lawful permanent residency requirements.
What Documents Are Required for the USCIS Form N-400
Documentation for Initial Filing:
- Check for $680.00 payable to Department of Homeland Security.
- Two (2) USCIS color photographs
- Clear color copies of both sides of your Legal Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).
- Clear copy of both sides of your US Driver’s License / state identification.
- Clear color copies of your spouse’s US Driver’s License / state identification.
- Birth Certificates of all children born to the marriage or adopted during the marriage.
- If you are filing based upon a disability exception provide an original Form N-648, “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions,” completed less than six months prior by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist.
- If you are a male provide proof that you registered for Selective Service or that you were not required to register (Status Information Letter from Selective Service. sss.gov).
- Tax Returns / IRS Transcripts:
- All returns filed in the last 5 years (including all pages, schedules and forms W2, 1099 etc.).
- Clear color copies of the following documents (where applicable):
- Marriage Certificates.
- If either you or your spouse was previously married, provide the Death, Annulment or Divorce Certificates.
- Birth Certificates for all your children.
- If you legally changed your name, copy of the court order.
- If you have taken trips outside the US that lasted more than 6 months, provide proof that you have maintained strong ties with the US. For example, filing tax returns, maintaining a US domicile, US driver’s license, etc.
- If you are required to pay court ordered financial support provide us with a copy of the order and proof that you have complied with the requirement.
- If you have ever been arrested or detained and no charges were filed send an original official statement by the arresting agency/court confirming that no charges were filed.
- If you have ever been arrested or detained and charges were filed send an original or court-certified copy of the complete arrest record and disposition of each incident (dismissal order, conviction record or acquittal order).
- If you have ever been convicted or placed in an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program (such as drug treatment or community service) send the following:
- Original or court-certified copy of the sentencing record for each incident and
- Evidence that you completed your sentence such as:
- Original or court-certified copy of your probation or parole record or
- Evidence that you completed the alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program.
- If you have ever had any arrest or conviction vacated, set aside, sealed expunged or otherwise removed from your record send the following:
- Original or court-certified copy of the court order vacation, setting aside, sealing, expunging or otherwise removing the arrest or conviction
- If you have ever failed to file an income tax return since becoming a Legal Permanent Resident provide all correspondence with the IRS regarding your failure to file.
- If you have federal, state or local taxes that are overdue send a signed agreement form the IRS/State showing that you have made arrangement to pay the taxes you owe AND documentation from the IRS showing the current status of your repayment program.
Documentation for Interview:
The following documentation, you should prepare for the interview. Remember, to bring the originals and a copy. This way, if the officer wants a certain document, you will be able to give them the copy. This is also true of photographs. For example, do not bring your original wedding pictures. Bring copies. They do not have to be printed on photo-paper, but they should be in color.
- The originals of the documents that were filed with the initial petition.
- All passports issued to you.
- Your original driver’s license or state identification card.
- Proof that you worked for the sponsoring employer AFTER becoming a Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card). For example, W-2 / pay-stubs.
- If you obtained your Green Card via a National Interest Waiver / Outstanding Professor/Researcher – proof that you are still contributing in your field of study.
- If you are married, proof of your bona-fide marriage any joint-life documents such as:
- Joint Bank Account statements
- Joint Lease Agreements
- Joint Mortgage Agreements
- Joint deeds / proof of joint ownership in property.
- Titles to jointly owned property (autos, vacation homes, time shares, recreational vehicle, etc.)
- Joint Insurance (Life, Medical, Auto, Homeowner’s etc.)
- Joint installments / loans.
- Joint utility bills / cell phones.
- Joint Automobile registration / ownership.
- School /Medical records for any children.
- Documentation showing legal guardianship of stepchildren.
- Any other documents that prove your joint-life like gym or shopping club memberships.