Form N-400 is the application for U.S. citizenship through naturalization. A long and complex application, the form is 20 pages and has 18 sections. Here’s a step-by-step guide to complete Form N-400 along with some filing tips.
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Form N-400, Citizenship Application Tips
It’s very important to complete your naturalization application clearly and carefully. Here are some tips to ensure your application is completed accurately.
- Only answer questions that apply to your situation. You are not required to answer every question on the N-400 application. Depending on your situation, there may be several questions that don’t fit your situation. In these cases, you should write “N/A” (not applicable) rather than leaving the space blank. If you’re not certain how to answer a question, consider getting help from an attorney or by using online immigration software such as FileRight.com.
- Be honest. You should answer all questions truthfully. Lying on an immigration application could result in your application being denied—or worse. It’s possible to have your immigration status revoked for lying about your eligibility.
- Don’t forget to sign your form. The USCIS rejects all unsigned forms.
- Be sure to use the most current version of the form. The USCIS regularly updates their forms. You can find the most current versions on their website.
- Write clearly and use extra pages if necessary. Make sure your writing is legible. If there’s not enough room for an answer, you can write, “Please see attachment” in the field and then attach a separate piece of paper with the answer. At the top of the attachment page, print your name, A-number, and the words “Attachment to Form N-400.” Then state which question(s) from which part(s) of the form you are answering.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Form N-400, Citizenship Application
Follow the below instructions to help you complete your application for naturalization. These instructions will guide you through the eligibility requirements and all 18 parts of the application.
Naturalization Eligibility Requirements
There are 9 basic requirements to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.
- You are at least 18 years old at the time you file the application (except active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces).
- You are a permanent resident of the United States for a required period of time. In most cases, the requirement is 5 years (3 years for spouses of U.S. citizens), though there are exceptions.
- You have lived within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months prior to filing.
- You have demonstrated physical presence within the United States for a required period of time. In most cases, the requirement is 30 months within the 5-year period (18 months within a 3-year period for spouses of U.S. citizens), though there are exceptions.
- You have demonstrated continuous residence for a required period of time. This means you have lived in the U.S. without leaving the country for a period of time. Typically the requirement is 5 years immediately preceding the date you file your application (3 years for spouses of U.S. citizens).
- You demonstrate good moral character. The good moral character requirement is how the U.S. government determines whether you would make a good and honest U.S. citizen. To establish good moral character, you need to prove that you haven’t committed certain crimes.
- You demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution.
- You demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics) as well as an ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English. There are English language exceptions for older applicants.
- You take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Some applicants may be eligible for a modified oath.
Form N-400, Part 1: Information About Your Eligibility
The first section is only 1 question: your citizenship eligibility category. You may select only one category. Don’t write your A-number in the box to the right.
Form N-400, Part 2: Information About You
This section asks for basic biographic information including your name, social security number, gender, date of birth, the date you became a permanent resident, country of birth and country of citizenship or nationality.
You will be asked if you have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prevents you from taking the English language or civics test. If the answer is yes, you will also complete and file Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions.
You will be asked if you qualify for any of the age exceptions for the English language test as well.
Form N-400, Part 3: Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities and/or Impairments
If you have a disability, you can request the USCIS make accommodations (something to make the interview less difficult for you) beyond exceptions to the naturalization test. For example, you could request a sign-language interpreter, wheelchair access, or whatever else will help you get through the exam such as bringing along a nursing aide or a shortened waiting time.
Form N-400, Part 4: Information to Contact You
Provide contact information including your phone number and email.
Form N-400, Part 5: Information About Your Residence
Provide your most recent residence and every address you have lived in the last five years. If there’s not enough room for an answer, you can write, “Please see attachment” in the field and then attach a separate piece of paper with the answer. At the top of the attachment page, print your name, A-number, and the words “Attachment to Form N-400.” Then state which question(s) from which part(s) of the form you are answering.
Form N-400, Part 6: Information About Your Parents
These questions ask for information about your parents including if one of or both of your parents are U.S. citizens. If one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you could be eligible for citizenship automatically and do not need to complete Form N-400. Learn more about acquiring citizenship through parents.
Form N-400, Part 7: Biographic Information
Provide information on your ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color. This information is used by the USCIS to complete background checks.
Form N-400, Part 8: Information About Your Employment and Schools You Attended
Provide information about where you went to school and where you worked over the last five years. If you cannot remember something from years past, put in as much information as you can remember. If you have gone through periods of unemployment, unpaid work, self-employment, disability, retirement, or taking care of your home or children, list these too.
Form N-400, Part 9: Time Outside the United States
Provide information about time you spent outside the U.S. in the last five yours. The USCIS is asking these question to verify that you meet the physical presence requirement. If you cannot remember specifics, provide as much information as you can.
Form N-400, Part 10: Information About Your Marital History
This section can be confusing. Here are some clarifications on some confusing or worrying questions.
Question 5 asks if your current spouse is a U.S. citizen. Some applicants worry that they will not be eligible for citizenship if they acquired permanent residence (green card) through marriage and then divorced that spouse before applying for citizenship. Generally you must be married to a U.S. citizen for 3 years to be eligible for naturalization; however, there are exceptions. Learn more about citizenship through marriage.
Question 8 asks, “How many times has your current spouse been married?” Your answer should include your current marriage. For example, if your spouse was married twice before your marriage, your answer should be “3.”
Part 11: Information About Your Children
Provide information about your children, including children who are:
- Alive, missing, or deceased (in either of the latter two cases, you would enter “missing” or “deceased” in the first line of the address)
- Born in other countries or in the United States
- Younger or older than 18 years
- Married or unmarried
- Living with you or elsewhere
- Stepsons or step-daughters not legally adopted
- Born out of wedlock
Part 12: Additional Information About You
This section asks for information to confirm your eligibility for citizenship, specifically regarding the good moral character requirement. Answering “yes” to any of these questions could result in your application being denied. In this case, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of an immigration lawyer.
Part 13: Applicant’s Statement, Certification, and Signature
This section asks you to promise that you have understood the N-400 questions and provided accurate responses. If you are not sure about some questions or are confused by parts of the application, it’s a good idea to seek help. FileRight.com provides online do-it-yourself software and lawyer review services to help you properly complete the immigration application process.
Part 14: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
If you used an interpreter to help you complete the application, this is where you and your interpreter must sign. Generally, applicants who use an interpreter also request an age or disability related waiver of the English requirement (Part 2). If you are not eligible for such a waiver, it is a good idea to wait to apply for naturalization until your English is stronger.
Part 15: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing This Application, if Other Than the Applicant
If a lawyer, paralegal or other document preparer completed Form N-400 for you, have them sign this section.
Part 16: Signature at the Interview
DO NOT fill out this section. You will complete it during your citizenship interview.
Part 17: Renunciation of Foreign Titles
Leave this section blank. You will complete it during your interview. If you go by a foreign title such as “Princess” or “Duke,” you are required to give this up to become a U.S. citizen.
Part 18: Oath of Allegiance
Leave this section blank. You will complete it during your interview.
Form N-400 Supporting Documents
You are required to include documentation that proves your eligibility when you submit your N-400 citizenship application. Which documents to send depend on your particular circumstances.
All applicants must submit:
- A photocopy of both sides of your green card (permanent resident card). If you have lost your card, submit a photocopy of the receipt of your Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
- A check or money order for the application fee ($725) and the biometric service fee ($85). Applicants 75 years of age or older are exempted from the biometrics services fee. Write your A-Number on the back of the check or money order. You may also pay using a credit card.
- If you reside outside the United States, 2 identical color photographs, with your name and Alien Registration Number (A-Number) written lightly in pencil on the back of each photo.
If an attorney or accredited representative is submitting the N-400 application on your behalf:
- A completed original Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative
If your current legal name is different from the name on your Green Card:
- The document(s) that legally changed your name (marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court document)
If you are applying for naturalization on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen, send the following 4 items:
- Evidence that your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the last 3 years. For example, a copy of his or her:
- U.S. birth certificate
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Certificate of Citizenship
- The inside front cover and signature page of your spouse’s U.S. passport; OR
- Form FS-240 Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America)
- Your current marriage certificate
- Proof of termination of all prior marriages of your spouse ((divorce decree(s), annulment(s), or death certificate(s))
- Documents referring to the relationship between you and your spouse:
- Tax returns, bank accounts, leases, mortgages, or birth certificates of children; or
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-certified copies of the income tax forms that you both filed for the past 3 years; or
- An IRS tax return transcript for the last 3 years
If you were married before, send:
- Proof that all early earlier marriages ended (divorce decree(s), annulment(s), or death certificate(s))
If you are currently in the U.S. military service and are seeking citizenship based on that service, send:
- A completed original Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service
If you have taken any trip outside the United States that lasted 6 months or more since becoming a permanent resident (green card holder), send evidence that you (and your family) continued to live, work or keep ties in the United States, such as:
- An IRS tax return “transcript” or an IRS-certified tax return listing tax information for the last 5 years (or for the last 3 years if you are applying on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen)
- Rent or mortgage payments and pay stubs
If you have a dependent spouse or child(ren) who not live with you, send:
- Any court or government order to provide financial support; and
- Evidence of your financial support (including evidence that you complied with any court or government order), such as:
- Cancelled checks
- Money and receipts
- A court or agency printout of child support payments
- A letter from the parent or guardian who cares for your child(ren)
If you have ever been arrested or detained by any law enforcement officer for any reason, and no charges were filed, send:
- An original official statement by the arresting agency or applicant court confirming that no charges were filed
If you have ever been arrested or detained by any law enforcement officer for any reason, and charges were filed, send:
- An original or court-certified copy of the complete arrest record and disposition for each incident (dismissal order, conviction record or acquittal order)
If you ever been convicted or placed in an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program (such as a drug treatment or community service program), send:
- An original or court-certified copy of the sentencing record for each incident; and
- Evidence that you completed your sentence:
- An original or certified copy of your probation or parole record; or
- Evidence that you completed an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program
If you have ever had any arrest or conviction vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged or otherwise removed from your record, send:
- An original or court-certified copy of the court order vacating, setting aside, sealing, expunging or otherwise removing the arrest or conviction, or an original statement from the court that no record exists of your arrest or conviction
NOTE: If you have been arrested or convicted of a crime, you may send any
countervailing evidence or evidence in your favor concerning the circumstances of your
arrest and/or conviction that you would like the USCIS to consider.
If you have ever failed to file an income tax return since you became a permanent resident, send:
- All correspondence with the IRS regarding your failure to file
If you have any Federal, state or local taxes that are overdue, send:
- A signed agreement from the IRS or state or local tax office showing that you have filed a tax return and arranged to pay the taxes you owe; and
- Documentation from the IRS or state or local tax office showing the current status of your repayment program
NOTE: You may obtain copies of tax documents and tax information by contacting your
local IRS offices, using the Blue Pages of your telephone directory, or through its website
If you are applying for a disability excepting to the testing requirement, send:
- An original Form N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions, completed less than 6 months ago by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist
If you did not register with the Selective Service and your (1) are male, (2) are 26 years old or older, and (3) lived in the United States in a status other than as a lawful nonimmigrant between the ages of 18 and 26, send:
- A “Status Information Letter” from the Selective Service (Call 1-847-688-6888 for more information)