N-400 Processing Time
Form N-400 instructions
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
- 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
- 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]:
- To be at least 18 years old.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- To have lived in the state where the Form N-400 is submitted for at least 3 months.
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- Application filing and receipt (approximately 2 to 3 weeks from filing)
- Your notice of the biometrics appointment time, date, and location (3 to 5 weeks)
- The biometrics appointment (5 to 8 weeks)
- Your notice of the naturalization interview (3 to 5 months)
- The naturalization interview (4 to 6 months)
- You receive the Notice of Oath ceremony, form n-445, to take the Oath of
Allegiance (1 to 4 weeks after the interview)
- 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
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
- 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!