How Much Does it Cost to Apply for US Citizenship?
The cost of filing for USA Citizenship through Naturalization is $725. The Naturalization fee is composed of the N 400 application fee and the biometrics service fee. Military applicants are exempted from paying the US Citizenship costs while applicants 75 years and older are exempted from paying the biometrics fee. You are able to pay for the US Naturalization costs through check or money order. Only the N400 form filing fee is payable via credit card.
What to Do if I Cannot Afford the US Citizenship Filing Fee?
You are able to apply for a reduction or waiver of the U.S. Citizenship costs by filing Form I-912 (Request for Fee Waiver) together with an explanation of why you are unable to afford the required fees. Your total annual household income must be between 150% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines to qualify for a USCIS fee reduction.
How Long Does it Take to Obtain US Citizenship?
The processing time for US Citizenship applications is between 18 and 24 months. The US Citizenship processing time starts from the date of filing your Form N400 up until you attend your Oath of Allegiance ceremony.
What is US Citizenship?
US Citizenship is a bond that links people who share a sense of civic duty and a commitment to the liberties and rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. A US Certificate of Citizenship is given to persons who have acquired USA Citizenship by being born in the United States or one of its territories or by being born to parents who are US Citizens.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process by which foreign citizens become USA Citizens if they meet the qualifying conditions. Naturalization is applied for by foreign citizens who have been Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) for at least 5 years, spouses of US Citizens, and members of the U.S. military.
What is the Difference Between US Citizenship and Naturalization?
US Citizenship is a status while Naturalization is the process of obtaining US Citizenship. US Citizenship is acquired and automatic if you are born from US Citizen parents or born in the United States or one of its territories. Naturalization involves voluntarily applying for U.S. Citizenship if you have been an LPR for 5 years, married to a US Citizen, or served in the U.S. military. A Certificate of Naturalization is granted to an approved applicant for Citizenship in the US.
What are the Advantages of US Citizenship?
While Lawful Permanent Residents are able to stay, work, and study indefinitely in the United States, they will have to renew their status every 10 years to retain these benefits. A Green Card holder files for US Citizenship to afford more benefits than those enjoyed by LPRs.
- Obtain the right to vote. US Citizens are not limited to voting in certain local municipalities only but are allowed to cast their ballots in federal elections.
- Run for public office. You are able to file your candidacy for the USA elections as a Naturalized American Citizen.
- Be free from immigration forms and procedures. You no longer need to renew your Green Card and pay the associated fees. You are able to move anywhere in the United States without notifying the US government which is required of Green Card holders.
- Work for the US government. You are eligible for employment in the US government and receive more benefits and higher wages compared to working in private companies.
- Have more access to government assistance programs. The limits on your access to federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare are lifted as an American Citizen. You are eligible for federal college assistance which is only dedicated to US Citizens.
- Sponsor family for US immigration. You are able to sponsor not only your spouse and minor children for Green Card but also your siblings, parents, and adult children as a Naturalized American. There is no annual cap and an immigrant visa is always available to immediate relatives of US Citizens.
- Get acquired USA Citizenship for your children. Your children are automatically Citizens of America once you become Naturalized even if they were born outside the US. You will need to notify the nearest US embassy or consulate to ensure your child’s claim to US Citizenship.
- Do away with deportations. You cannot be forcibly deported from the US, just like any other US citizen, even if you are convicted or arrested. A Naturalized Citizen can only be deported if their citizenship is first revoked, which is extremely uncommon. The first application has to have been fraudulent for this to happen.
- Get a US Passport. One of the key advantages of getting U.S. Citizenship is possessing a US Passport that grants visa-free access to more than 180 countries and territories. You are no longer restricted as to the duration and frequency of your overseas travel as an American Citizen.
What are the Duties and Responsibilities of a Naturalized US Citizen?
You need to consider what is required of you after becoming a US Citizen. A foreign citizen who files for USA Citizenship must observe these duties and responsibilities of American Citizens.
- Renounce your citizenship in other countries. Not all countries allow for dual citizenship. Dual citizenship means that you can retain your citizenship from 2 countries at the same time. The USA allows for dual citizenship however if you are from a country that does not allow dual citizenship such as India, Japan, United Arab Emirates, or Venezuela, you will have to let go of your citizenship in those countries to become a USA Citizen.
- Serve in the US military. Mandatory military service has been discontinued since 1970, however, all male US Citizens or LPRs that lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 must register with the Selective Service System. The Selective Service System is a contingency measure in case conscription turns out to be essential.
- File US income tax returns (ITRs) regardless of your residence. Even if you relocate abroad, you are still required to submit U.S. income tax returns (ITRs) as a Citizen of the United States. However, as long as you meet specific criteria, you will be able to remove from your income up to the annual cap permitted by the U.S. government ($100,000) to be excluded from taxation. Any income that is higher than that threshold will be taxed.
- Serve as a member of the jury. You need to attend if summoned for jury duty and if selected, serve as part of the jury. Certain individuals are exempt from jury duty depending on age, disability, or positions in public office.
When can I File for US Citizenship?
As a Green Card holder, you are able to file your Naturalization for Citizenship as early as 90 days before your anniversary as a Lawful Permanent Resident for 3 or 5 years. LPRs with no special circumstances such as EB-5 immigrant investors are able to file for US Citizenship after 5 years of obtaining their Green Cards. LPRs who are married to U.S. Citizens are able to file for Naturalization after 3 years as Green Card holders. Applicants who can apply for American Citizenship at any time are widow(er)s of US Citizens who died honorably while serving in the military and members of the US military during wartime service.
Do I Need a Green Card to Apply for US Citizenship?
Yes, generally, you must be a Green Card holder for at least 3 or 5 years if you wish to become a USA Citizen. Only members of the U.S. military at any period during wartime service are eligible for US Citizenship without Green Card.
Learn more about USA Green Card application.
Does the US Allow Dual Citizenship?
Yes, the United States permits dual citizenship wherein a person possesses citizenships from 2 countries simultaneously. The US does not require its citizens to renounce their citizenship in other countries. You need to check if your home country allows for dual citizenship before applying for US Citizenship, especially if you intend to keep your first citizenship.
Know more about getting Dual Citizenship in USA.
What are the Differences Between a US Citizen and a US National?
All US Citizens are US Nationals but not all US Nationals are considered US Citizens. A US National is a person born in “outlying possessions of the United States” such as American Samoa and Swains Island. USA Nationals are allowed to reside in the United States and apply for Naturalization after 3 months. US Nationals have restrictions on their rights compared to Americans such as the inability to vote in the local, state, or federal elections. USA Nationals will have to be Naturalized to be able to run for federal office. The US government cannot revoke the right of US Nationals unlike those of Green Card holders. USA Nationals cannot lose their status and cannot be deported back to their home country.
Do I Have to Pass an English Language Exam to Apply for US Citizenship?
Yes, you need to prove that you are able to read, write, and speak in English to become a Naturalized American Citizen. Only applicants of a certain age and length of US residence and certain persons with disabilities are exempted from taking the English language test for US Citizenship.
Do I Get a US Passport After Becoming a Naturalized American Citizen?
Yes, one of your privileges as a Naturalized Citizen of America is getting a U.S. Passport. You need to present your Certificate of Naturalization, a government-issued photo identification document, and a passport photo to apply for a USA Passport.
What is the Fastest Way to Obtain US Citizenship?
Marrying a U.S. Citizen is a quicker way toward Naturalization. You only need to be a Green Card holder for at least 3 years before you are able to apply for US Citizenship through Naturalization.