Using the Form N-400 to Apply to Become a Naturalized Citizen
The N-400, also known as the Application for Naturalization, is an application to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Usually, you will need to be a legal permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years before you are eligible to apply for citizenship. If you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen, this wait time to apply for citizenship is cut to only 3 years. You may apply for naturalization up to 90 calendar days before you complete your continuous residence requirement of 3 or 5 years.
Eligibility for the N-400 Form
To apply with a N-400 form to become a U.S. citizen, you must:
- Be 18 years of age at the time of filing
- Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three or five years
- Have had continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Read, write, and speak basic English
- Demonstrate good moral character
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of U.S. history/government
- Demonstrate loyalty to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
- Be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.
Common Questions And Answers About Form N-400
Are you able to see Naturalization Test questions beforehand?
Yes, there is a complete published list of test questions that may be asked during the interview. You can access the list of questions here and they are available in English, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and Tagalog.
I travelled extensively, can I still get my citizenship?
To be qualified for citizenship you must live continuously in the United States for 3 or 5 years. If you travelled outside the US for longer than 180 days in one trip, or you were not in the U.S. for at least half the time over the past 3 or 5 years, you may not qualify for your citizenship.
How many tests do I need to complete?
There are a total of 4 tests to pass. You will go through the reading, writing and civics portions first. After passing those 3 tests you will do the speaking portion of the test. This will be an English speaking test reviewing your N-400 form, clarifying and confirming information on your application.
Should I bring original documents such as birth and marriage certificates to my interview?
Yes, you should bring original documentation to your interview as instructed. Examples of these documents include: original birth, marriage, divorce, final adoption and naturalization certificates, court orders/decrees, evidence of child support payments, court-certified arrest reports, and probation/parole records.
If I am in the process of naturalization and my green card expires, do I need a new one?
You need to apply for a new green card before the existing one expires. You must always have proof of valid lawful residency.
If I do not pass, when can I retest?
You will be given 2 opportunities to meet the English and civic requirements. If you fail these portions you can retest between 60 to 90 days from the date of your initial interview. A new interview notice will be sent to you.
How many times can I apply for Naturalization?
There is no limit to the number of times you can apply.
I have a criminal record, can I still apply for citizenship?
Yes, generally individuals are allowed with criminal convictions to apply for citizenship. However, the decision of whether or not you’ll actually receive citizenship will depend on the nature of your crime.
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