Naturalization Timeline

If you file the form N-400 and supporting documents accurately and avoid receiving requests for additional documentation, the processing time for a typical naturalization application is 5 to 7 months from start to finish on average.

UsImmigrationForms / Naturalization Timeline

STEP 1

Determining Eligibility

The first and most important step is to find out if you are eligible for citizenship. You can usually qualify for naturalization if you are 18 or older and have been a permanent resident for at least five years (or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen) and meet additional requirements.

Tip: You can learn more by reviewing Form N-400, Instructions for Application for Naturalization, which is available at uscis.gov/n-400 .

Eligibility Quiz

STEP 2

Filling Out the N-400

Next, fill out the entire Form N-400 and don’t forget to have two passport-style pictures taken if you don’t live in the United States. Gather up all of the paperwork and any supporting material that serves as proof that you qualify for naturalization.  Finally, double check to make sure your application package is complete.

Tip: Avoid potential application processing delays by taking the time to make sure you have answered all questions and provided all of the necessary paperwork.

N-400 instruction

STEP 3

Receipt of Application

Two to three weeks after filing

If there are no questions or concerns about your Form N-400, Application for Naturalization upon receipt by the USCIS, you will get an official confirmation letter, or Form I-797C, Notice of Action (see example) within two to three weeks. However, if the form is incomplete, the USCIS may send official correspondence rejecting the application or requesting more information. a Notice of Action to reject the petition or may send a Request for Evidence that requests additional items. 

Tip: You do not need to do anything else at this time.

AFTER FILING

STEP 4

Appointment Notice for Biometrics

Three to five weeks after filing

You will receive information about you biometrics appointment. This will include the date, time and location, which is usually a nearby USCIS Application Support Center. Routine but mandatory fingerprinting for security clearance and criminal background checks is also done during these appointments.

Tip: If you are at least 75 years old or older at the time of filing, the associated fee will be waived. However, biometrics appointments are mandatory regardless of age. If you don’t get a biometrics appointment notice, you can make a case inquiry.

AFTER FILING

STEP 5

Biometrics Appointment

Five to eight weeks after filing

The biometrics appointment, or biometrics screening, is usually a brief appointment that takes roughly half an hour.  This is when USCIS gets your fingerprints, photograph and signature. Your appointment notice will tell you what you need to take to the appointment. To learn more about the appointment, read USCIS biometrics appointment.

Tip: If you know or have reason to believe that you criminal record it is very important that you contact an immigration lawyer before your biometrics appointment. Some crimes will make you ineligible for immigration benefits. A lawyer can request a background check before USCIS does and act accordingly.

AFTER FILING

STEP 6

Appointment Notice for Naturalization Interview

Three to five months after filing

The next step after the biometrics appointment is the naturalization interview.  The USCIS will send the details about this appointment by mail. Please try to keep the scheduled appointment in order to avoid potential delays that can result from rescheduling. During this time you should also be studying for your interview and test. To find out how, go to How to Prepare for the Citizenship Interview and Test.

Tip: Remember that it is mandatory to inform the USCIS if you change your address after filing your Form N-400 within 10 days of your relocation by submitting Form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address. You also must call USCIS at 1-800-375-5283 to change the address with your pending N-400 application.

AFTER FILING

STEP 7

Naturalization Interview

Four to six months after filing

The interview includes an application review by a USCIS officer to verify the information and assess your English language skills. This assessment will also test your reading and writing skills, along you’re your knowledge of U.S. history and civics. Your background check results will be reviewed and any concerns will be addressed at this time.

If you are preliminarily approved for naturalization at the end of the interview and testing process, all that is left to do is wait for official notification regarding the place and time of the oath ceremony. You will not formally become a United States Citizen until after you are “sworn in” at the ceremony.

There are some times when the USCIS officer cannot make a decision on your application on the day of your interview. If this happens, your case will be continued and you may be asked to provide additional evidence or go through another interview. Here are some of the most common reasons N-400 applications are continued or denied.

After your interview, you will get a Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results from the USCIS. It contains information about the results of your interview, and whether your application will be granted, denied or continued.

Tip: If you believe that USCIS incorrectly denied your Form N-400, you may request a hearing to appeal this decision by filing Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings, within 30 days of the decision date.

AFTER FILING

STEP 8

Notice of Oath Ceremony

One to four weeks after interview

Shortly after a successful interview, you will get an official notice regarding the Oath of Allegiance (N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony). This will include a request to answer some additional questions that will be submitted at the actual oath ceremony. See a sample

Tip: If you cannot attend your scheduled naturalization ceremony, return the notice, Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony, to your local USCIS office, along with a letter requesting a new date and explaining why you cannot attend the ceremony as scheduled. Failing to appear more than once for your naturalization ceremony result in a denial of your application.

AFTER FILING

STEP 9

Oath of Allegiance Ceremony

Five to eight months after filing

If you do not take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony, you cannot and will not be legally recognized as a U.S. citizen. This vital and final step towards becoming a U.S. citizen takes place at an administrative or judicial ceremony. Once you have taken the Oath of Allegiance, you can turn in your green card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Congratulations!

Tip: Review your Certificate of Naturalization and notify USCIS of any corrections to your certificate before leaving the ceremony site.

AFTER FILING

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