2017 U.S. Citizenship Guide

How To Prepare and Submit your Citizenship Application

Download the Free Citizenship Application Checklist!

How to Become a United States Citizen.

For all its faults and foibles, people all over the world still dream of calling America their home. They long to join family members in America, marry their American partners, build new lives in a free land. Last year, that dream came true for 752,800 immigrants who naturalized, as reported by the Department of Homeland Security. And yet, millions more apply every year, trying to navigate the long and often frustrating road to citizenship.

There are three main steps to applying for U.S. citizenship and many, many steps in between. This guide gives you a high-level look at the process. As you review it, keep in mind that the total time to immigrate to the U.S. and become a U.S. citizen is between six and seven years. Click here to start right now.

Ready to start your Citizenship application?

How to apply for Citizenship

You must be a permanent resident of the U.S. (aka having your green card) for five years before you become eligible for naturalization (aka becoming a U.S. citizen). USCIS does permit you to submit your naturalization application up to 90 days before your five-year anniversary.

Are there any exceptions to the five-year rule? Yes, there are:

  • Permanent residents who are married to U.S. citizens only have to wait three years to apply for citizenship
  • Battered spouses of a U.S. citizen also only have to wait three years
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens in certain overseas jobs, refugees and asylees all have special circumstances that may permit them to apply for citizenship earlier than five years

Next step: You've had your green card for three or five years (or however long USCIS mandates, based on your status), and you'd like to apply for citizenship. Now it's time to file form N-400, the Application for Naturalization. A few important points about the N-400:

  • The form can be found on the USCIS website
  • It costs $640 to file the N-400 plus an $85 biometrics fee (more on biometrics below)
  • Read all the instructions carefully and always tell the truth
  • It's a good idea to have an immigration lawyer review your form before you submit it
  • To get help filling out the form and have an attorney review it, start your application online with SimpleCitizen.

What happens after you file?

1. Biometrics. You will be mailed a date for your biometrics services appointment. This is where USCIS captures your fingerprints, photograph and digital signature to confirm your identity and perform background and security checks.

2. Citizenship Interview After biometrics are collected, you'll get an appointment for a citizenship interview with a USCIS officer. Make sure to bring the list of documents they request and be prepared to go over your application with the officer. You will be sworn in, and the officer will test your knowledge of English and U.S. history and government. SimpleCitizen offers tips to help you pass your citizenship interview.

After you're approved

You are almost a U.S. citizen! The final step is the oath ceremony, where you swear an oath of allegiance to the United States. In some courts, you will swear your oath on the same day as your citizenship interview, but if a same-day oath ceremony is not available, USCIS will notify you by mail of your ceremony date and time.

What happens in the oath ceremony? Before a judge, you will pledge to:

  • Support and defend the U.S. Constitution
  • Respect and obey all laws
  • Pay income and other taxes honestly and on time
  • Serve on a jury upon request
  • Defend the country if needed

Once you swear your oath of allegiance, you will receive your certificate of naturalization. Congratulations! You are now a full-fledged U.S. citizen with all the rights that grants, including freedom of religion, the right to vote, right to a fair trial, and of course, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Prepare your application online with SimpleCitizen

Are you eligible to apply?

Are you currently living in the United States?
Have you lived in the US for more than 3 months?
Did you enter the United States with an active visa or green card?
Are you married to a US citizen?
Do you have a Green Card?
Did you obtain the Green Card through marriage?
Have you had the Green Card for at least 2.5 years?
Have you traveled outside of the US for at least 6 months during the last 2.5 years
Have you had the Green Cards for atleast 4.5 years?
Analyzing Eligibility
We're sorry.
You are probably not eligible to apply.
If you would like to apply for a Green Card, instead of a Renewal, we can help you.
Results: 98% Chance of Acceptance
You are probably eligible to apply online for Naturalization!

How to Get Started

If you need to apply for Citizenship, you basically have the 3 options. You can hire an immigration attorney, fill out the paperwork yourself, or use SimpleCitizen. SimpleCitizen is an online tool that helps you fill out your entire application (All USCIS forms and supporting documents). We'll walk you through every step of the process so that everything is filled out correctly and ready to file.

After you complete the application process, SimpleCitizen will even print, assemble, and ship your application to your address. Once you receive your application, all you have to do is sign the forms and mail it to USCIS. We even attach detailed instructions explaining where and how to send it.

Ready to get started? Click here to begin your application.

Benefits of Applying Online

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should use SimpleCitizen:

• No Errors - Immigration Attorney Review
Have your entire application reviewed by a licensed immigration attorney for only an additional $99.

• 100% Money Back Guarantee
If you prepare your application with SimpleCitizen and it gets denied by USCIS, we will refund you 100% of all government fees and SimpleCitizen service fees (this has not happened to a SimpleCitizen customer yet).

• Take Your Time - Automatically Save your Progress
At anytime while preparing your application, you can save your progress and come back and finish later.

• Prepare Quickly - Easily Upload Supporting Documents
You can add all your supporting documents to your application by taking pictures of them with your phone.

• USCIS Certified - Includes Document Translation
All supporting documents must to be translated into English. SimpleCitizen will have your documents translated by certified translators at no extra cost.

• Automatic Updates - Free USCIS Status Updates
Know instantly when your immigration status changes. SimpleCitizen will automatically send you a text message or email update everytime your USCIS status changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about citizenship and naturalization. For more help, visit SimpleCitizen's Immigration Forum to post your question about how to become a Citizen.

How do I find out if I am eligible to apply?

Click here to take the eligibility quiz to find out if you are eligible to apply for a green card.

I have a few questions before I start, how can I ask?

If you have any questions about the application process or how to get started, click on the little chat icon in the bottom right hand of the screen to chat with SimpleCitizen support. If you would like to have a consultation with an immigration attorney let us know, and we will connect you with a licensed immigration attorney. You can also email us anytime with your question to: [email protected]

How much does it cost to prepare my application online with SimpleCitizen?

It costs $199 to prepare a completed Citizenship application online with SimpleCitizen. This service fee includes the printing and shipping of your application and automatic text message or email updates of your status until your application is approved. You also have the option to pay an additional $99 to have your application reviewed by a licensed immigration attorney to make sure you did not make any mistakes in your application. Click here to start your application with SimpleCitizen.

What can I do if USCIS denies my application?

If you complete your Citizenship application online with SimpleCitizen and your application is denied, SimpleCitizen will refund you 100% of your preparation fee and your government processing fee. If you think that USCIS was wrong to deny your citizenship application, you may request a hearing with an immigration officer.

Can I complete my application without SimpleCitizen?

Of course! As always, every USCIS form is available to download from USCIS's website. Warning: Do not pay any other website to download the forms. There are several scams online that try to sell these forms. Only download them directly from USCIS if you are going to prepare your application yourself. Note: Preparing yourself does not include any of the benefits of applying with SimpleCitizen listed above (attorney review, document translation, printing, etc.).

What do I do if I lose my Certificate of Naturalization?

You may get a new Certificate of Citizenship by submitting an "Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document" (Form N-565) to USCIS. Submit this form with the appropriate fee to the Nebraska or Texas Service Center, depending on which Service Center has jurisdiction over your residence.

If my Permanent Resident Card expires while I am applying for naturalization, do I still need to apply for a new card?

If you apply for Citizenship 6 months or more before the expiration date on your Permanent Resident Card, you have to apply for a new card. However you may apply for a renewal card if you wish by using an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card" (Form I-90) and paying the appropriate fees.

How long does it take to become naturalized?

The time it takes to become a Citizen varies by location. USCIS is continuing to attempt to modernize and improve the Citizenship process and currently it takes an average of 6 months to have your Form-400 approved by USCIS.

How do I know SimpleCitizen will work for me?

Our mission is to help our customers through the entire immigration process. We'll be there for you every step of the way, from getting your green card, to eventually becoming a United States Citizen. If you have any questions at any time, you can chat directly with SimpleCitzien support or schedule a consultation with a licensed immigration attorney. Learn more about SimpleCitizen's track record of helping immigrants on our success stories page here.