Updated: 6/11/2017

What Is Naturalization?

certificate-of-naturalizationGenerally, certain lawful permanent residents married to a U.S. citizen may file for naturalization (US citizenship) after residing continuously in the United States for three years if immediately preceding the filing of the application the applicant has:

  • been married to and living in a valid marriage with the same U.S. citizen spouse for all three years
  • the U.S. spouse has been a citizen for all three years and meets all physical presence and residence requirements
  • the applicant meets all other naturalization requirements

Naturalization Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
  • An applicant must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
  • Individuals who have been lawfully admitted as permanent residents will be asked to produce an I-551, Alien Registration Receipt Card, as proof of their status.
  • has resided continuously as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to filing with no single absence from the United States of more than one year;
  • has been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the previous five years (absences of more than six months but less than one year shall disrupt the applicant’s continuity of residence unless the applicant can establish that he or she did not abandon his or her residence during such period) and
  • has resided within a state or district for at least three months.
  • applicant must show that he or she has been a person of good moral character for the statutory period (typically five years or three years if married to a U.S. citizen or one year for Armed Forces expedite) prior to filing for naturalization.

What Will Make You Ineligible To File

The USCIS is not limited to the statutory period in determining whether an applicant has established good moral character, so it can go has far back into your history as they want.

  • You are permanently barred from naturalization if you have ever been convicted of murder.
  • You are permanently barred from naturalization if you have ever been convicted of an aggravated felony.

You cannot be found to be a person of good moral character if during the last five years you:

  • have committed and been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude
  • have committed and been convicted of 2 or more offenses for with the total sentence was 5 or more years
  • have committed and been convicted of any controlled substance law, except for a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana
  • have been confined to a penal institution during the statutory period, as a result of a conviction, for an aggregate period of 180 days or more
  • have committed and been convicted of two or more gambling offenses

Other offenses under moral aptitude include:

  • is or has earned principal income from illegal gambling
  • is or has been involved in prostitution or commercialized vice
  • is or has been involved in smuggling illegal aliens into the United States
  • is or has been a habitual drunkard
  • is practicing or has practiced polygamy
  • have willfully failed or refused to support dependents
  • have given false testimony, under oath, in order to receive a benefit under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

An applicant must disclose all relevant facts to the USCIS, including his or her entire criminal history, regardless of whether the criminal history disqualifies the applicant under the enumerated provisions.

Failing to pay child support can make you ineligible to file to naturalization.

Forms To File For N-400 Naturalization

Cover Sheet [download]

This should include the applicants contact information, a description of the benefit being filed for (“U.S. naturalization”) and a table of contents listing the major items in the packet.

N-400 Application For Naturalization [download]

Be sure that the form is completed and correct to the best of your knowledge. Print, sign and date as required.

A Photocopy of Both Sides of Your Permanent Resident Card

If you have lost the card, submit a photocopy of the receipt of your Form I-90, ‘Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card’

Two Identical Color Photographs (if applying outside US)

With your name and A-number written lightly in pencil on the back of each photo. For details about the photo requirements.

Do not wear eyeglasses or earrings for the photo. If your religion requires you to wear a head covering, your facial features must still be exposed in the photo for purposes of identification.

A Check or Money Order For The Fee

2017 Fee: $640.00 + $85.00 (biometrics) = $725.00

For the correct application fee and the biometric services fee for fingerprinting. (Applicants 75 years of age or older are exempted from fingerprinting and the biometrics services fee). Write your ‘A-number’ on the back of the check or money order.

G-1450 – Credit Card Payment [download]

You are now able to pay for the fee with a credit card using this form (optional).

I-912 Request for Fee Waiver [download]

For very low-income households, you can file this fee waiver with your N-400. Include evidence of financial hardship such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, bills in collection, etc.

Here are instructions on how to fill out form I-912.

Certain low-income naturalization applicants may pay a filing fee of $320 plus the $85 biometric services fee. For eligibility details and filing instructions, see Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee and Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

Assembling The N-400 Package

Payment: as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Make check payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Fee $640.00 + 85.00 Biometrics = $725.00)

Cover Sheet [download]

N-400 Application For Naturalization [download]

Photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card

Two identical color photographs (if applying from outside US)

Applicable supporting documents (see below)

Make a copy of the entire N-400 packet for your records.

Supporting Documents For Form N-400

If an attorney or accredited representative is acting on your behalf, send:

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 Permanent Resident Card, send:

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 four items:

  • Evidence that your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the last three years:
  • Birth certificate (if your spouse never lost citizenship since birth), or
  • Naturalization certificate, or
  • Certificate of Citizenship, or
  • The inside of the front cover and signature page of your spouse’s current U.S. passport, or
  • Form FS-240, ‘Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America’, and

Your current marriage certificate; and

 Proof of termination of all prior marriages of your spouse-divorce decree(s), annulment(s), or death certificate(s); and

Documents referring to 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 three years, or
  • An IRS tax return transcript for the last three years.

If you were married before, send:

Proof that all earlier marriages ended-divorce decree(s), annulments, or death certificates(s);

If you were previously in the U.S. military service, send:

A completed original Form G-325B, ‘Biographic Information.’

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’; and A completed original Form G-325B, ‘Biographic Information.’

If you have taken any trip outside the United States that lasted six months or more since becoming a Permanent Resident:

Send evidence that you (and your family) continued to live, work and/or keep ties to the United States, such as:

  • An IRS tax return ‘transcript’ or an IRS-certified tax return listing tax information for the last five years (or for the last three 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 children who do not live with you, send:

Any court or government order to provide financial support; and Evidence of your financial support (including evidence that you have complied with any court or government order), such as:

  1. Cancelled checks,
  2. Money and receipts,
  3. A court or agency printout of child support payments,
  4. Evidence of wage garnishments,
  5. A letter from the parent or guardian who cares for your children.

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of Questions 1 through 15 in Part 7 of form N-400, send:

A written explanation on a separate sheet of paper.

If you answer ‘No’ to any of Questions 1 through 5 in Part 8 of form N-400, send:

A written explanation on a separate sheet of paper.

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 have ever been convicted or placed in an alternative sentencing program or rehabilitative program (such as a drug treatment or community service program), send:

  1. An original or court-certified copy of the sentencing record for each incident; and
  2. Evidence that you completed your sentence:
  3. An original or certified copy of your probation or parole record; or
  4. 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 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 at www.irs.gov.

If you are applying for a disability exception to the testing requirement, send:

An original Form N-648, ‘Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions,’ completed less than six months ago by a licensed medical or osteopathic doctor or licensed clinical psychologist.

If you did not register with the Selective Service and you (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 1-847-688-8888 for more information).

Where to Send Your N-400 Packet

If you live in:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North, Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Territory of Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

USCIS
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail or courier deliveries, use the following address:

USCIS
Attn: N-400
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you live in:

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi,,, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico U.S. Virgin Islands

USCIS
P.O. Box 660060
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express Mail or courier deliveries, use the following address:

USCIS
Attn: N-400
2501 S State Hwy 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067