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N-400 NATURALIZATION

To become a citizen of the United States, an individual must submit a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to USCIS. Only lawful Permanent Residents or Green Card holders who had been physically present in the United States for a certain period and met all underlying requirements are eligible to apply. Specifically, applicants must demonstrate that they have satisfied the residency requirement, have good moral character and have an understanding of the United States’ history and Constitution.

Furthermore, the N-400 application also requires the applicant to pass an in-personal interview exam, that has many ways for denial, including ties to communist or totalitarian, criminal history, failure to register for selective service, residency abroad, and more. After passing the exam, then the applicant will be naturalized to become a United States citizen.

A United Citizen can apply for a U.S. passport, can vote in an election, can run for public offices, and petition family to come to the United States. For immigrants, the N-400 is the last step of their long journey to call the United States home. An applicant should not take the preparation of N-400 lightly and should seek professional help if needed.

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LEGAL FEE

Our fee structure is unique to us as we strive to tailor our services for each client individually. We adapt price standards that are capable of fluctuating for each client depending on their unique needs. Clients may retain us for one or all of the above steps/services.

We are happy to customize a proposal for you during a consultation and walk you through what an N-400 case looks like. Furthermore, we will provide solutions to your specific N-400 questions. Please see below for more information.

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CASE PROCESSING OVERVIEW

Step 1: Strategy Session for N-400

This is the most crucial step for your entire N-400 Application. We will review all of the supporting documents to create a strategy, a customized checklist, and a timeline to serve as the guiding foundation for the entire case preparation.

Step 2: Prepare and Submit the N-400 to USCIS

Our attorneys will craft your N-400 arguments and complete all forms, organize supporting documents, and assemble the crafted arguments into the proper application formats. After a thorough review, we will then submit the application to USCIS.

Step 3: USCIS Interview Process

We will conduct mock interviews to help the client prepare for the interview stage. The client will receive practice questions to study and our office will stimulate the interview setting to ensure that the client will be well-versed and confident for the actual USCIS interview. Thorough feedback and other tools will be provided to ensure success.

Step 4: Responding to Requests for Evidence

If additional documents/evidence are needed upon the submission of the case and after the interview, our office will ensure that all necessary documents are submitted to the USCIS office in a timely manner. We will assist the client to the best of our ability until the case gets approved or the client no longer wants to continue forward with the case.

Step 5: Oath Ceremony Preparation

The Oath of Allegiance ceremony is the mandatory final step of the naturalization process and must be satisfied in order for individuals to become U.S. citizens. Our office is committed to assisting the client through the naturalization process in its entirety. We will walk the client through how the ceremony will proceed to calm any worries or fears.

Step 6: Passport & Others

Once the client has taken the Oath of Allegiance, we will offer our passport service to the client. The passport will allow the client to travel outside of the country at his or her pleasing. We produce high-quality passport pictures and our team will ensure that the client will receive the passport in a timely manner.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Checklist of Required Evidence

  • Two identical passport-style photographs
  • Your original document or certificate if you are applying for a new or replacement document due to a name, date of birth, or gender change
  • A copy of the original document if you are applying for replacement of a lost, stolen, or destroyed document (if applicable)
  • A police report or a sworn statement if you are applying for replacement of a lost, stolen, or destroyed document
  • Evidence of a USCIS typographical or clerical error (if applicable)
  • Evidence of your legal name change (if applicable)
  • Evidence of your legal date of birth change (if applicable)
  • Evidence of your legal gender change (if applicable)
  • Evidence of your marital status change (if applicable)
  • A copy of your original naturalization certificate if applying for special certificate of naturalization

Filing Fee

The updated filing fee for the N-400 can be found here. If you file your Form N-400 online, you may pay your fee online. If you file your Form N-400 by mail (paper), you may pay the fee with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

When you send a payment, you agree to pay for a government service. Filing and biometric service fees are final and non-refundable, regardless of any action we take on your application, petition, or request, or if you withdraw your request. 

Exceptions:

  • Applicants 75 years of age or older do not need to pay a biometric fee. They only need to pay the $640 filing fee.
  • No fee is required for military applicants filing under section 328 or 329 of the INA.

Eligibility for N-400

  • Applicant must be 18 years old or older at the time of filing;
  • Applicant must be a lawful permanent resident.
  • Applicant must demonstrate continuous permanent residence in the U.S. for at least 5 years.
    • may be 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen.
  • Applicant must show that they have been physically present in the U.S. for 30 months
    • may be 18 months if married to a U.S. citizen
  • Applicant must show that they have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where they claim residence.
  • Applicant must have knowledge of U.S. history and government.
  • Applicant must have good moral character.
  • Applicant must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.

However, there are exceptions to this rule, if they are one of the following:

  • 55 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 15 years
  • 50 years old and have been a permanent resident for at least 20 years
  • Have a permanent physical or mental impairment that makes the individual unable to fulfill these requirements.

    Good Moral Character Requirements

    An applicant for naturalization bears the burden of demonstrating that, during the statutorily prescribed period, he or she has been and continues to be a person of good moral character.  (§ Sec. 316.10 Good moral character).

    Good moral character is defined in the USCIS Policy Manual as “character which measures up to the standards of average citizens of the community in which the applicant resides.”

    A naturalization applicant must prove they are a person of good moral character (GMC) in the 5 years prior to applying — or 3 if applying through marriage.

    How does USCIS determine if I have good moral character?

    When reviewing your Form N-400 USCIS will make that determination. Examples of things that might demonstrate a lack of good moral character include, but aren’t limited to:

    • Any crime against a person with intent to harm
    • Any crime against property or the Government that involves “fraud” or evil intent
    • Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more
    • Violating any controlled substance law of the U.S., State, or foreign country
    • Habitual drunkenness
    • Illegal gambling
    • Prostitution
    • Polygamy (marriage to more than one person at the same time)
    • Lying to gain immigration benefits
    • Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments
    • Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years (or 3 years if applying through marriage)
    • Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before applying for naturalization
    • Failing to register for the Selective Service when required to
    • Terrorist acts
    • Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group

    When the USCIS conducts a background check, they are not only interested in crimes committed in the U.S., but in any country. Even if you have some instances of misconduct in your past, we can help you show that you have reformed, and you may still be eligible for an immigration benefit such as cancellation of removal or withholding of removal.

    Civic and English Test-Language Requirements

    In general, a naturalization applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage. An applicant must also demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and principles and form of government of the United State (civics). These are the English and civics requirements for naturalization – (See NA 31. See CFR 31.)

    To demonstrate your understanding of the English language and the fundamentals of the United States, you will be tested on the following parts:

    • English: Your understanding of English will be tested in multiple ways.
    • Reading: To test your ability to read in English, you must read one sentence, out of three sentences, in a manner suggesting to the USCIS officer that you understand the meaning of the sentence.
    • Writing: To test your ability to write in English, you must write one sentence, out of three sentences, in a manner that would be understandable as written to the USCIS officer. 
    • Speaking: Your ability to speak English is determined by your answers to questions normally asked by USCIS officers during the naturalization eligibility interview on Form N-400.
    • Note: It is also important to be able to conduct small talk with the officer throughout the interview.

    Civics: During your interview, the USCIS officer will ask you to orally answer a set of civics questions. You must answer six (6) out of 10 civics questions correctly to achieve a passing score. There are 100 set questions that are available for your convenience. They are also available in Spanish and Chinese.  You may look at USCIS provided study materials.

    At Tsang and Associates, we understand the difficulty this test presents, especially for applicants whose first language is not English. For this reason, we provide many resources (see menu on left), as does the USCIS, to help prepare you for the naturalization test. Read more in our Success Stories.

    N-400 Interview Tips

    Here are some interview tips that will lead you to a successful N-400 interview.

    Preparation

    • Do not arrive more than 15 to 30 mins in advance, but do not arrive late.
    • Look decent at the interview.  We recommend business casual: do not wear jeans and a t-shirt, but there is no need for a suit.

    Officer and Interview

    • Always tell the truth. They have the entire file of your immigration history in front of them.
    • You will be asked to sign the application. Do not sign with your usual day to day signature. You have to write (NOT print) your entire name in cursive letters in the designated area.
    • If you missed something in the application or realized that something was incorrect in the application, be sure to mention it in the application.
    • Memorize everything from the application. Do not keep the copy of your application open in front of you.

    Testing your English Ability

    • USCIS has instructed its officers to repeat and rephrase questions until the officer is satisfied that you either fully understand the question or do not understand English.
    • If you don’t understand a question, it’s okay to ask the officer to rephrase it. In fact, guessing at what the officer is saying could get you into deeper difficulties than simply saying, “I’m sorry, would you please repeat that using different words?”

    Military Service Waiver

    Special provisions are given to those who are members or veterans of the U.S. Military by applying under INA 328. To establish eligibility, one must:

    • Have served honorably, during a period of peacetime, in the U.S. armed forces for a period or periods totaling one year;
    • Have submitted a completed Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (PDF, 313 KB), at the time of filing the N-400 to demonstrate honorable service;
    • Be a lawful permanent resident at the time of your naturalization interview;
    • Meet certain residence and physical presence requirements;
    • Demonstrate the ability to read, write, and speak English;
    • Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government;
    • Demonstrate good moral character for at least five years before filing your N-400 through the day you naturalize; and
    • Demonstrate an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution

    Additionally, many installations offer a designated USCIS liaison in the installation’s community service center.

    Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes

    N-565 is used to apply for a replacement of U.S. citizenship documents such as: Certificate of Citizenship, Certificate of Naturalization, Declaration of Intention, Repatriation Certificate, or to apply for a special certificate of naturalization as a U.S. citizen to be recognized by a foreign country. The N-565 may be used to correct some errors on a Certificate of Naturalization, however it cannot be used to correct a date of birth incorrectly listed an N-400 and later sworn to.

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    SAMPLE & TEMPLATES

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    Attorney Brief:  We will provide an attorney brief sample for the N-400 petition. For more specific N-400 cases, check out our focused sample attorney briefs:

    • N-400 Spouse of U.S. Citizen
    • N-400 Medical Exception
    • N-400 Criminal Waiver
    • N-400 Work Abroad Exception
    • N-400 Presumption of Abandonment
    • N-400 Re-established Residence
    • N-400 Failure to Register for Selective Service
    • N-400 Communist or Totalitarian Affiliation
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    Cover Letter: [coming soon] We will also provide a cover letter sample for the N-400 petition.

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    Sample Request for Evidence: [coming soon] Requests for evidence can be used to strengthen the case.

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    Forms: Here is a list of the forms that are needed by USCIS

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    Sample Checklist: [coming soon] We look at the client’s unique situation and create customized checklists to strengthen their cases.

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    USCIS Fee Calculator: This is to help calculate how much the filing fee will be.

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    USCIS Mailing Address: This address is where it is mailed to USCIS.

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    USCIS Processing Timetable: This will help you figure out how long it will take to process.

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    ASC Field Offices: Listed are the addresses of the field offices for the bio-metrics.

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    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    What are the benefits of N-400?

    • U.S. citizens are entitled to enjoy more job opportunities;
    • U.S. citizens enjoy social welfare, such as medical insurance, subsidies, etc.;
    • U.S. citizens can vote in national and local elections;
    • U.S. citizens can petition for the admission of alien relatives to the U.S.;
    • U.S. citizens can exit and enter the U.S. without any regard to time spent out of the U.S.  In addition, citizens receive U.S. government protection and assistance when abroad.
    • U.S. citizens will not be deported facing charges.

    What are the pitfall of N-400?

    As part of meeting the good moral character requirement, USCIS will obtain your biometrics and run a criminal background check for crimes committed in the U.S. as well as other countries.

    Some crimes make an applicant temporarily ineligible for U.S. citizenship. In most of those cases, you can wait a required number of years – typically five years or three years for applicants married to and living with a U.S. citizen. While you may be eligible, the USCIS officer still has the discretion to make a decision if you meet the good moral character requirement.

    However, if you have been convicted of a more serious crime, such as murder or aggravated felony, you will most likely be permanently denied U.S. citizenship. For more information on permanent bars to the good moral character requirement, visit Volume 12, Chapter 4 of the USCIS Policy Manual.

    Even if you have some instances of misconduct in your past, we can help you show that you have reformed, and you may still be eligible for an immigration benefit such as cancellation of removal or withholding of removal.

    Pitfall #2: Failed the English and/or Civics Test

    If you fail the English and/or civics test in your initial interview, USCIS will schedule you to come back for another interview within 60-90 days of your first interview. USCIS will only retest you on the part of the test that you failed. However, USCIS will deny your Form N-400 if you fail the tests a second time.

    For those without strong English skills, it is important to take time to study and be prepared.

    Pitfall #3: Failure to Meet Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements

    Continuous residence means that the applicant has maintained residence within the United States for a specified period of time, generally 30 months before applying.

    If you travel outside of the United States for periods longer than 6 months, your continuous residence will likely be disrupted. You will have to wait and restart your period of continuous presence before applying for U.S. citizenship.

    Pitfall #4: Failure to Meet Financial Obligations

    While debt is not a bar to naturalization, there are some financial issues that affect the moral character requirement and could interfere with your ability to naturalize as a U.S. citizen.

    • Failure to pay taxes is a very common reason to have Form N-400 denied, especially if you let the USCIS find the problem.
    • Willful failure to support dependents is another common issue. An applicant that fails to make timely child support payments could have the Form N-400 denied.

    Tsang and Associates can help you develop a plan to pay the taxes or child support to demonstrate to USCIS that you’re fixing the problem.

    Pitfall #5: Fraud and Lying to USCIS

    Be honest with your answers to the USCIS. If USCIS believes that your answer to a question is deceptive or untrue, your Application for Naturalization will be delayed and could be denied. Even if the error was innocent, be sure that your application for naturalization is true and accurate when filed.

    If you feel that an honest answer may create a problem with naturalization, you should speak with an attorney at Tsang and Associates before filing Form N-400. We will instruct you on how to navigate the possible problem.

    Pitfall #6: Officer Believes Your Green Card is Unmerited

    An application for U.S. citizenship gives the U.S. immigration authorities another chance to review your entire file. Occasionally, USCIS encounters instances where the applicant really shouldn’t have been given a green card.

    For example, let’s say an applicant immigrated as the unmarried child of a U.S. citizen – but was in fact married when he or she immigrated. This applicant may, on the N-400 application, unthinkingly put down his or her actual marriage date. If USCIS notices that this date was before the applicant’s receipt of the green card, it may ask further questions, and ultimately place the applicant in removal proceedings. Once stripped of the green card, the applicant will have no more right to U.S. citizenship.

    What are the spouse/children requirements?

    Spouses of U.S. Citizens assigned abroad:

    Besides a shorter residence requirement (3 years instead of 5), spouses of citizens who are assigned abroad by their U.S. employers can be exempted completely from the continuous residence and physical presence requirements, thereby permitting them to be naturalized prior to accompanying their citizen spouses abroad on their assignments. The citizen spouse must be working for one of the same employers that can qualify their alien employees for extended absence naturalization benefits. Applicants must meet the following requirements:

    1. Be married to a U.S. citizen and live together in a valid marital union
    2. Be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder)
    3. Have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, who has been a U.S. citizen during all of such period
    4. Be physically present in the U.S. at the time of naturalization
    5. Applicant’s U.S. citizen spouse must have at least 1 year remaining on his/her overseas duty at the time of naturalization
    6. Will depart abroad immediately after naturalization and intend to reside in the United States immediately upon the termination of the citizen spouse’s employment abroad
    7. Comply with all applicable naturalization requirements.

    United States citizen spouse will be considered as regularly stationed abroad in any of the following kinds of employment:

    1. As a member of the United States Armed Forces
    2. As an employee of the United States Government
    3. As an employee of an American institution of research recognized by USCIS or by a public international organization of which the United States is a member by treaty or law
    4. As an employee of an American company engaged in the development of United States foreign trade and commerce, or its subsidiary
    5. Performing ministerial or priestly functions by a religious denomination with a bona fide organization in the United States
    6. Employed as a missionary by a religious or interdenominational mission organization with a bona fide organization in the United States

    Foreign-Born Children of U.S. Citizen:

    Foreign-born children of U.S. citizens must meet one the following requirements to be exempt from the N-400:

    1. Born in a foreign country to 2 married U.S. citizen parents
      • At least one parent has resided in the U.S. prior to their birth
    2. Born in a foreign country to a married citizen and foreign parent
      • U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. for 5 years, at least two of which were after the age of 14
    3. Born in a foreign country out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother
      • The mother had previously been physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying territories for a continuous period of 1 year
    4. Born in a foreign country out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father

    The father was a U.S. national at the time of the child’s birth; the father (unless deceased) had agreed in writing to provide financial support for the child until he/she reaches the age of 18 years; the father was physically present in the U.S. for 5 years, at least two of which were after the age of 14

    Does USCIS publish the naturalization test questions?

    Yes. USCIS publishes a complete list of the 100 civics questions and answers for the naturalization test that USCIS may ask applicants during the naturalization interview. These questions are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. During the naturalization test, a USCIS officer will ask an applicant any 10 of these 100 civics test questions. The USCIS officer will ask the applicant only the civics questions on this list.

    USCIS provides free educational resources to help applicants prepare for the naturalization test. The Citizenship Resource Center provides study materials to help applicants prepare for the English and civics tests and videos to help potential applicants understand what to expect during the naturalization application process and naturalization interview. In addition, the site contains interactive practice exercises and naturalization self-tests that applicants can use to measure their level of preparedness. Many of these citizenship resources are also available in other languages.

    In addition, the Find Help in Your Community page allows individuals to search for low-cost or free citizenship classes throughout the United States.

    How many times can I apply for naturalization?

    There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for naturalization.

    Will USCIS approve my Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, once I pass the reading, writing, and civics portions of the naturalization test?

    No. In addition to preparing for the reading, writing, and civics portion of the naturalization test, you will need to prepare for the speaking portion of the naturalization test and meet all other naturalization requirements. The speaking test occurs during the eligibility review. USCIS offers interactive practice tests to help you prepare.

    During your naturalization interview, a USCIS officer will review the responses you provided on your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with you. The USCIS officer will ask questions to clarify or confirm your responses. Prepare yourself for the English speaking test by making sure you understand each question on the application and can respond to each question according to your situation.

    You have demonstrated an ability to speak English if you generally understand and can respond accurately to the USCIS officer. Applicants may ask the USCIS officer to repeat or rephrase questions during the naturalization interview. For additional information on how USCIS officers assess English language abilities, please see the Scoring Guidelines for the U.S. Naturalization Test (PDF, 343 KB).

    Certain applicants, because of age and time as a lawful permanent resident, are exempt from the English requirements for naturalization and may take the civics test in the language of their choice. For more information, see exceptions and accommodations.

    Because my Green Card allows me to travel between the United States and my home country, can I live in both places until I am ready to apply for citizenship?

    To qualify for citizenship, generally applicants must demonstrate they have continuously resided in the United States for at least 5 years before submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This means you must be residing exclusively in the United States – not in any other country.

    You may travel to another country, including your home country, provided no other legal impediment precludes you from doing so. However, if a trip lasts longer than 180 days, USCIS may determine that you have not continuously resided in the United States and therefore are ineligible for naturalization.

    In addition to examining the length of your trip abroad, USCIS will look at the frequency of your travel. To qualify for naturalization, an applicant must spend at least half of their time in the United States. This is known as the “physical presence” requirement. If you take frequent, short trips abroad that result in you spending more than half your time outside the United States, then you will also be ineligible for naturalization.

    The requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” are interrelated but are different requirements. A naturalization applicant must satisfy each requirement to be eligible for naturalization. 

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    SCHEDULE A SESSION

    Call or email us to set up your 1-hour consultation. Easily pay the $250 consultation fee over the phone or through our email link. If you would like to have a quick chat with our team before setting up the consultation, feel free to use the calendar on the right to book your 10 minute call.

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