N-400 Processing Time

Form N-400 instructions

Those seeking citizenship through naturalization will need to use the N-400 Form, Application for Naturalization. After filing the application, there is a period of uncertainty while awaiting the outcome. Most of the steps remain the same for each applicant, although it can be difficult to predict when the results will come. N-400 application for naturalization must be fully and properly completed, attaching all required documents. Documents will help the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to decide whether the alien has good moral character, such as criminal record and tax record.

The process can take as much as eight months, and may vary based on the following factors:

  • USCIS current case load;
  • The USCIS office where you filed;
  • The amount of time you have been a permanent resident;
  • Your age (must be at least 18 years old);
  • Your N-400 application.

These are the required materials needed for your application:

  • $640 filing fee;
  • $85 biometric fee;
  • 2 identical color photographs;
  • Name and Alien Registration Number (A-number) written on the back of the photographs;
  • Photocopy of Permanent Residency Card.

Remember that if there are any errors in your N-400 application, this could significantly delay the processing time and possibly even threaten your path to citizenship. To ensure that your application is filed promptly and is without error, you should ask a New Jersey immigration lawyer to assist you. The Law Offices of Simone Bertollini can walk you through every facet of the process.

Timing of the N-400 Application

If the processing time of your N-400 has exceeded nine months, please contact my firm. You may be able to petition a Federal District Court with a Writ of Mandamus to compel USCIS to adjudicate your case.

A writ of mandamus is a request to the Court to force a government agency, the USCIS in this case, to make a decision. Under the INA and the Administrative Procedures Act, a Writ of Mandamus may be filed in the U.S. District Court if the USCIS has failed to issue a decision on a properly filed immigration application after a reasonable period of time. The court reviews the matter and issues an order requiring the USCIS to make a decision on the application within 30 to 90 days. The court is allowed to deny the lawsuit if it establishes that the individual does not meet the requirements for the application or if it believes the delay by the USCIS is necessary.

What Are the Requirements for Citizenship?

The following are the essential requirements to eligibility to apply for naturalization, pursuant to section 316 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), [8 U.S.C. 1427]:

  1. To be at least 18 years old.
  2. To have maintained continuous residence in the u.s for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. citizen, see later);

A lawful permanent resident (LPR) normally may travel outside the united states and return but there are some limitations and a reentry permit can help to establish that he/she did not intend to abandon his or her status. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, allows the alien to apply for admission to the usa after traveling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. Reentry permits are normally valid for two years from the date of issuance.

  1. To hold a Green Card for 5 years and continuously reside in the U.S.

A green card is valid for 10 years. Individuals with expired green cards are required to submit Green Card, Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) as soon as possible. Without a valid green card, it can become difficult to naturalize. It is generally recommended submitting Form i-90 within 180 days of the expiration date (located on the front of the green card), to prevent a delay in receiving the renewed green card. The USCIS processing time to renew or replace a green card is approximately three to four months.

If the alien is adjusting his or her status (to a permanent U.S. resident, or green card holder), he/she will need to complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Form I-485 is issued by USCIS and is the primary application form used by immigrants elegible to be LPRs. Only a very limited group of people fit the criteria, most often people who came to the usa on a temporary visa, but married a U.S. citizen, or those who received asylum.

If the alien has served in the U.S. Armed Forces during war, he or she may apply for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining a green card if he or she was in the U.S. upon enlistment into the U.S. military.

  1. To be physically present inside the U.S. for at least 30 months before applying (or one and half years if the alien is married to a U.S. citizen).
  2. To have lived in the state where the Form N-400 is submitted for at least 3 months.
  3. To be reasonably proficient in the English language and familiar with American history, government and society.

The interview includes a test to prove the ability to read, write, and speak English. The alien will also be asked up to 10 questions about U.S. civics. A person who fails either part of the test will be retested on that part 60 to 90 days later. People who can't take the english or civics test because of physical or mental disabilities can request an exemption by filing Form N-648, (medical certification for disability exceptions).

  1. To be a person of good moral character and willing to abide by the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Under the INA, any alien convicted of a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT), or who admits to have committed a CIMT, or the elements of a CIMT, is ineligible to enter the united states and to obtain a visa. If the person is already present in the united states, the acquisition of a green card or the naturalization process can be denied. Most criminal convictions are based on state law. Crimes punished by only fines or even less have still been held to be CIMTs.

  1. To be able to make an Oath of allegiance. There are some exceptions for those whose religion does not allow oathes.

The Oath of Allegiance, 8 C.F.R. Part 337 (2008), is an oath that must be taken by all immigrants who wish to become U.S. citizens. The oath is administered either by the USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony in a federal court. A court has exclusive authority to conduct the ceremonies in certain USCIS districts.

You may be able to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as your interview. If a ceremony is unavailable, USCIS will mail you a notice with the date, time, and location of your scheduled naturalization ceremony on a Form n-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.

What Happens After Filing N-400 Application for Naturalization?

After filing the N-400 application for naturalization, the USCIS sends the alien a letter telling him/her when and where he/she has to report to have the biometrics taken. The alien will need to bring the notice letter, the green card, and a second form of identification. The USCIS will also notify him/her of a time and place to be interviewed.

The N-400 Timeline

Because the N-400 process involves several steps, it is always advisable to consult first with an immigration lawyer who can anticipate the road ahead. You will want to ensure that there are no obstacles that will prevent your application from progressing, as there are many steps.

Here is an approximate timeline of the process:

  1. Application filing and receipt (approximately 2 to 3 weeks from filing)
  2. Your notice of the biometrics appointment time, date, and location (3 to 5 weeks)
  3. The biometrics appointment (5 to 8 weeks)
  4. Your notice of the naturalization interview (3 to 5 months)
  5. The naturalization interview (4 to 6 months)
  6. You receive the Notice of Oath ceremony, form n-445, to take the Oath of Allegiance (1 to 4 weeks after the interview)
  7. Oath of Allegiance (5 to 8 months from filing)

Service Center Processing Times

The USCIS center processing times are different for each applicant. It is important that you find the service center in charge of processing your case.

After the N-400 application for naturalization is initially filed, it will be forwarded to one of 4 USCIS Service Centers distributed across the United States, and having jurisdiction over a specific specific area. USCIS center processing times vary by Service Center, and it’s important to check the uscis case status in the uscis processing times information page.

USCIS has a page dedicated to the processing times. It keeps applicants persons informed on current immigration processess, providing up-to-date information on visa processing times, USCIS processing times, USCIS local office processing times, and border wait times. On the 15th day of each month USCIS posts the latest information about processing times at all service centers, and the alien can check his or her case online.

Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

If the alien is married to a U.S. citizen he or she may apply after three years with a valid green card. A spouse may qualify for naturalization under Section 319(a) of the INA if he/she:

  • has been a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years;
  • has been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse during such time;
  • meets all other eligibility requirements for the naturalization process.

In certain cases, spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad may qualify for naturalization regardless of their time as permanent residents. These spouses may qualify under Section 319(b) of the INA.

  • Spouses of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces (service members) may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization.
  • Children of service members may be eligible for overseas naturalization.

A LPR status will be considered conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day they were given permanent residence. The LPR must prove that he or she did not intentionally get married to evade the immigration laws of the usa, filing the form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence) within the 90 days just preceding the expiration date on the permanent residence card.

A person is also given conditional resident status on the day he or she is lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa, having been married less than two years and entering on a CR-1 visa.

The Naturalization Ceremony

You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. If USCIS approves your n-400 application for naturalization, you will scheduled to take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony. Taking the oath will complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.

  • In a judicial ceremony, the court administers the Oath of Allegiance.
  • In an administrative ceremony, USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance. You must return your green card to USCIS when you check in for your naturalization ceremony.

Once you become a U.S. citizen, you can apply for a U.S. Passport and vote in federal elections. In addition to your Certificate of Naturalization, a U.S. passport serves as official proof of citizenship.

If you lose your Certificate of Naturalization, you may request a replacement by filing Form n-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. The fee to file this form is $345.

Why Hire a New Jersey Immigration Lawyer?

As a former Italian immigrant, I am well-versed in every aspect of immigration law and have experienced it first-hand. I have personally handled matters for my clients before the USCIS, and I use that insight to give my clients the knowledge as well as the confidence they need.


Do not hesitate to contact my office for legal guidance on naturalization or any immigration matter.

Request your free case consultation today!


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