Applying for naturalization or citizenship is a huge step for most immigrants. Applying for citizenship means that you are ready to take on all the rights and privileges of US citizenship, including the right and responsibility of voting. Traditionally, the process of applying for citizenship can take several months or up to one year. Recently, the USCIS has announced some changes to make the citizenship application process a little simpler and possibly a little faster.
Specifically, beginning in October 2011, the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration) will have new processes in place to streamline and simplify the processing of citizenship and naturalization applications. Starting on October 30, applicants filing a citizenship application (any N-forms) will be able to apply at a secure Lockbox facility. Currently, applicants need to file N forms at local offices. The USCIS believes that this change will mean the depositing of fees and the receipt of applications will be faster. The change is also intended to make the process more consistent. The new changes will affect citizenship applications as well as other citizenship-related applications, including some applications for citizenship certificates and requests for hearings related to naturalization decisions.
If you wish to file a citizenship application or any N Form after October 30 2011, be sure to visit the USCIS website for the latest citizenship form and instructions. The instructions will let you know which Lockbox you need to send your completed form to. If you have just sent your citizenship application or other N form already and are worried, there is no need to be. Between October 30 and December 2, 2011, the USCIS will forward forms to the appropriate Lockbox. After December 2, however, the USCIS will return all incorrectly filed N forms and ask applicants to re-file at the correct Lockbox. It is also important to keep in mind that if you accidentally file the wrong form, you will need to re-file completely and you will need to pay the filing fee again; the USCIS will not refund fees or forward applications if you have mistakenly filled out the wrong form. Therefore, make sure that you are completing the right N form for your needs.
Under the current changes, the Phoenix Lockbox will handle Form N-600 (Application for Certificate of Citizenship), N-600K (Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322), and N-336 (Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings). Form N-300 (Application to File Declaration of Intention) will be handled by the Dallas Lockbox.