How To Apply For U.S. Citizenship

Becoming a U.S. citizen is a significant milestone that many immigrants aspire to achieve. It grants you a range of privileges and rights, including the ability to vote, work without restrictions, and access certain government benefits. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to apply for U.S. citizenship, with step-by-step instructions and valuable information to help you navigate the process successfully.

Determine if you are Eligible to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

Before you can begin the application process, you need to confirm if you are eligible to do so. The requirements set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically include:

  • Permanent Resident Status: You must be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for a specific period before applying. Generally, this period is five years, but it can be shorter if you are married to a U.S. citizen or have served in the U.S. armed forces.
  • Continuous Residence: During the qualifying period, you must have continuously resided in the United States. Extended trips abroad could disrupt your continuous residence.
  • Physical Presence: You must have been physically present in the United States for a specific portion of the qualifying period. For most applicants, this means at least half of the time.
  • Good Moral Character: USCIS will assess your character and conduct during the eligibility period. Any criminal convictions or other serious issues may affect your eligibility.
  • Basic Knowledge of U.S. Government and History: You must demonstrate a basic understanding of U.S. government and history. This is tested during the citizenship interview.
  • English Language Proficiency: You need to be able to read, write, and speak English unless you qualify for an exemption based on age and length of permanent residence.
  • Attachment to the U.S. Constitution: You must be willing to support the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be willing to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law.

To verify your eligibility, you can use USCIS’s online eligibility tool or consult with an immigration attorney.

Prepare Required Documents

Once you have confirmed your eligibility, it’s time to gather the necessary documents for your application. These typically include:

  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization: This is the official application form, which you can find on the USCIS website.
  • Proof of Permanent Residency: Provide a copy of your green card (Form I-551).
  • Two Passport-Sized Photos: Follow USCIS photo guidelines for these.
  • Filing Fee: As of January 2022, the filing fee for Form N-400 was $725, including a $640 application fee and an $85 biometric services fee. However, fee amounts may change, so check the USCIS website for the most current fees.
  • Supporting Documents: Be ready to provide additional documents such as marriage certificates, divorce decrees, or court records for verification.
  • English Language and Civics Documentation: If you are required to take the English and civics test, prepare for it by studying the official USCIS materials.

Remember to make copies of all documents for your records.

Complete and Submit Form N-400

Now that you have your documents ready, it’s time to complete Form N-400. You can fill out this form online or by hand. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully when you apply for U.S. citizenship. Any errors or omissions can delay your application. USCIS provides detailed instructions and a checklist to help you complete the form accurately.

Pay the Filing Fee to Apply for U.S. Citizenship

As mentioned earlier, the filing fee for Form N-400 can change over time. Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information. You can pay the fee using a check or money order made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. USCIS may also accept credit card payments, so be sure to confirm the accepted payment methods on their website. 

Attend Biometrics Appointment

After submitting your application, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, your fingerprints and photographs will be taken for background checks. It’s essential to attend this appointment as scheduled, as missing it can delay your application.

Attend the Interview

Once USCIS reviews your application and conducts background checks, you will be scheduled for an interview at a USCIS office. This interview is a crucial step in the naturalization process, as it allows USCIS to verify your eligibility and assess your English language and civics knowledge.

During the interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your application and conduct the English and civics tests. Be sure to review USCIS study materials to prepare adequately for this interview. 

Wait for the Decision

After the interview, USCIS will decide on your application. In some cases, they may decide on the same day as the interview. If your application is approved, you will receive a notice to attend a naturalization ceremony.

Attend the Naturalization Ceremony

The naturalization ceremony is the final step in becoming a U.S. citizen. During this ceremony, you will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, officially becoming a U.S. citizen. You will also receive your Certificate of Naturalization, which serves as proof of your citizenship.


Becoming a citizen of the United States is a great accomplishment that comes with various advantages and responsibilities. When you apply for U.S. citizenship, make sure you fulfill all qualifying conditions. Moreover, submit the necessary paperwork by carefully following the application procedures.

While this guide provides a general overview of the process, consult the official USCIS website for more detailed advice. Also, consider seeking legal counsel or assistance from immigration experts for personalized guidance.