N-400: What You Need to Know Before Applying for US Citizenship
If you or someone you know is an immigrant to the United States, you’re probably well aware of the mountain of important paperwork that needs to be completed before you can be approved as a US citizen. Filling out these forms correctly is essential to your chances of being approved, but some forms can be challenging to understand. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one of the most important forms for prospective new Americans: the N-400.
What Is the US N-400 Form?
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form N-400, Application for Naturalization is essentially an application for anyone looking to become a US citizen. These forms are processed by the USCIS as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s process of vetting all newcomers to the United States.
As of September 30th, 2022, new immigrants must fill out an updated and expanded version of the N-400. The updated form and its instructions are notably more expansive than previous versions. The new length comes from rewrites to make the form’s questions more clear, as well as a series of new questions that reflect laws passed by Congress over the last several years and are aimed at identifying potential disqualifications.
Fingerprints and Background Checks are part of the Citizenship Process
In addition to an N-400, new immigrants are also required to complete background and security checks. This typically includes fingerprinting and an FBI “name check” to ensure that you are free from criminal activities that could affect your application status.
Other forms that are sometimes relevant include paperwork for any special accommodations you may need. These include things like disability assistance or translation services for non-English speakers.
Submitting Your N-400
Before getting started, it is important to bear in mind that submitting your N-400 carries an application fee of $640 USD. Additionally, applicants under the age of 75 require an $85 biometric fee. These fees may not stop you from applying, but each new attempt to apply requires a new fee in addition to the months that processing your forms can take.
While all USCIS forms come with detailed instructions, filling out the forms fully and accurately on your own can be a challenge. This is especially true if English is not your first language, but even many native English speakers can be tripped up. The updated instructions for the N-400 have attempted to make things easier, but the 18-page instruction manual can be intimidating.
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