The whole naturalization process often takes around six months to a year. However, the processing time for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization will not be the same and it can vary significantly with each case. The time taken to process an application will depend on the workload of the USCIS office that is processing your application.
Once you file your application, you will be curious to know whether the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has started to process your application and how long it will take for you to become a U.S. citizen. Here are the common steps in the naturalization process for most applicants along with the approximate processing time.
If you properly file your N-400 application, you may receive your application receipt letter in around two to three weeks from the date on which you file. This receipt letter is known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action. USCIS will confirm the receipt of your application by sending you this notice. If your form has not been filed properly, you will receive a Notice of Action that will say that your application has not been accepted. You may also receive a Request for Evidence if the USCIS needs additional items to process your application. In this case, you must make sure to send all the required documents within the specified time period. If your application is rejected, you will have to file it again with proper documentation. These steps may delay your application significantly. This is one reason why you will need to make sure you are preparing your N-400 application correctly and submitting all the required documents.
Also, providing incorrect information or misrepresenting information will lead to the rejection or denial of your application. Prepare your application correctly in order to avoid rejection and delays. Remember, hundreds of applications are rejected or denied by the USCIS every year just because those applications were not properly filed.
If your application was accepted by the USCIS for processing, you will be notified of your biometrics appointment in around three to five weeks after filing your application. The biometrics appointment notice will have the date and time of your appointment and the location where you will need to appear to submit your biometrics.
This step is mandatory for all applicants as USCIS uses the information it collects to conduct background checks.
Your appointment will often be scheduled in approximately five to eight weeks from the application filing date. This appointment is usually short, as it may not take more than 30 minutes. Your photograph, signature and fingerprints will be collected. You will be required to present some form of photo identification document to enter the Application Support Center (ASC) where your appointment is scheduled. Your passport, Green Card or state-issued identification cards are documents that the USCIS will accept. Your biometrics appointment notice will have the list of documents you will need to take to the ASC.
Naturalization Test and Interview Appointment
Once you submit your biometrics information, USCIS will conduct the necessary background checks and send you an appointment notice for the naturalization interview. It is common to receive this letter around four to eight months after filing your form.
Though you might be allowed to reschedule the interview if you are not able to attend the scheduled interview, it is recommended to attend your scheduled interview to avoid delays. You will receive this letter around two months ahead of your scheduled interview. However, don’t wait until you receive this letter to prepare for the test and interview. You can start preparing for the test well in advance.
At the interview, a USCIS officer will go through your N-400 application and ask you questions from your form. This interview is where your ability to understand the English language will be tested. You will also be asked to read and write sentences in English. Then the civics test will be conducted. This is where the results from your biometrics appointment will be reviewed. If there are any issues, you will be asked more questions.
It is important to prepare for the naturalization test as you will be required to retake the test if you happen to fail. If you fail the test a second time, you will have to start the naturalization process all over again.
If your interview is successful, you may be informed that your application has been approved. In this case, unless given other instructions, all you need to do after the interview is wait for your appointment to attend the oath ceremony. Remember, you will not become a U.S. citizen until you swear the Oath of Allegiance.
If a decision is not made at the end of the interview, you might have to wait for the USCIS officers to decide on your case. In some cases, you will be asked to submit additional supporting documents or you may be required to appear for a second interview.
At the end of your interview, you will be given Form N-652, Naturalization Interview Results. This notice will have the results of your interview. If your notice states “granted,” your application may be approved by the USCIS. If is says, “continued,” USCIS will continue your case. This will happen if you failed the test or if the documents you provided are insufficient to decide on your case. “Denied,” indicates that your application will be denied by the USCIS if the evidence you provided establishes your ineligibility for naturalization.
You will receive a letter to take the Oath of Allegiance in around one month from your naturalization interview. You will receive this notice only if your interview was successful.
If you believe you cannot attend the ceremony, you may request that the USCIS reschedule your oath ceremony.
Your oath ceremony might be scheduled in approximately eight to twelve months from the date of filing your citizenship application. At the oath ceremony, you will be required to turn in your Green Card. Once you take the oath, you will receive your naturalization certificate.