N-400 Checklist: What You Need to Become a U.S. Citizen

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 24, 2022

Are you about to become a U.S. citizen? Do you need some advice on how to get this done? You’ll need some help if you are about to complete an application for naturalization. Do you know what documents are required? Do you have the correct application forms?

Don’t stress, we’ll help you with some handy tips. Here follows a Form N-400 checklist with brief explanations of the documents you need in your Application for Naturalization.

What is Form N-400?

Up to this point in your stay in the U.S. you’ve probably had to apply for an immigrant visa at some point. You completed an application form, you attached all supporting documents which prove your eligibility, and you submitted your application.

A Form N-400 is the official document with which you perform an Application for Naturalization. It’s issued by the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and you can download one from their website. This form alone is not enough to submit a successful naturalization application, though. A little later we’ll go through an N-400 checklist to explain the other documents required in your application. Let’s first look at who needs a Form N-400/ 

Who Needs Form-N-400?

Anyone who applies to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization needs a Form N-400. You must use this application form if you want to go from a Green Card holder to a fully-fledged U.S. citizen. Thereafter you’ll gain all the rights and responsibilities all U.S. citizens have.

It may be apparent to know who needs this form. But the supporting documents required in the process requires an N-400 checklist. So let’s have a look at what you’ll need to include in your Application for Naturalization.

N-400 Document Checklist Overview

Here follows a brief overview of the documents required in your naturalization application. Use this quick reference to come to grips with what you’ll need before you submit your application. Afterward, we’ll discuss each type of document with more detail.

  • Green Card – A valid Green Card which helps to prove your eligibility.
  • Associated fees – The processing fees and any other related costs.
  • Marriage documents – You need to prove your marital status, if applicable.
  • Name change documents – Any documents that prove the legal change of your name.
  • Selective Service registration – Proof of your registration for service, if applicable.
  • Other required documents – Your scenario is unique and will determine the documents required for U.S. citizenship in your application. An immigration lawyer could also help you with this.
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N-400 Document Checklist

Here is a more in-depth look at the N-400 checklist. Each type of document will have a description with a little bit of information on why it’s so important to your Application for Naturalization.

Green Card

A Green Card is also called a permanent resident card. This card or document helped to prove your residency leading up till now. A Green Card proves your eligibility to live and work in the U.S. The Application for Naturalization requires you to submit a copy of your Green Card with your N-400.

Only people who are eligible for naturalization may apply. A valid Green Card helps prove your eligibility. You could possibly get your citizenship even with a lost, stolen, or mutilated Green Card. But it’s in your best interest to use some legal advice from a professional like an immigration attorney if you need to overcome this hurdle. You would in any case still need your Green Card whilst you wait for a decision on your naturalization request in case you:

  • Apply for a job
  • Reenter the U.S. from abroad
  • Apply for services that require residency or citizenship (like certain financial services)
  • Apply for official documents like a driver’s license

Associated Fees

There could be a combination of fees from the following three different categories during your Application for Naturalization. Let’s see how it works.

Government Fees

Most types of immigration applications have processing fees. The N-400 also has a fee. The total filing fee is currently $725. $640 for the processing of your N-400 and $85 for the biometrics appointment.

Possible Fee Waivers

Some people who apply for naturalization are eligible for the waiver of their processing fees. You could apply for this waiver if you comply with the eligibility criteria. This may help you in your immigration attempts since money won’t be the barrier keeping you from becoming a citizen.

Legal Counsel

You could get help from legal experts like immigration attorneys. They would help guide you to your best chances of success. They specialize in helping people with their immigration efforts. Legal counsel usually isn’t for free. The total cost of this service will depend on their hourly rate and the number of hours they spent on helping you prepare for your citizenship application. An Application for Naturalization could cost anything between $500-$2,500 in lawyer fees. It could even cost more if you use expensive counsel.

Marriage Documents

Certain types of naturalization may need you to prove your marriage. Especially if you got a marriage-based Green Card. Your marriage to a U.S. citizen helped you to get permanent residency here. You enjoyed the many benefits that came with it, but now you want to become a citizen.

Or it could be possible that you got a marriage-based Green Card and got divorced in the meantime. You could still be eligible for U.S. citizenship if you fulfill the eligibility criteria. In this case, you might need a certificate of divorce or annulment decree to prove your divorce.

Lastly, you may have lost your spouse in the time that has passed. If so, we are sorry for your loss. You could also still be eligible for citizenship, however. You would need to prove the passing of your spouse in your application with a death certificate.

Many types of scenarios will require you to prove your marital status. Whatever documents help prove the point must be added to your Application for Naturalization. Questions relating to your marital status may be asked at your citizenship interview. Documents proving a bona fide marriage or otherwise will come in handy.

Name Change Documents

Your immigration documents paint a picture of your life in the U.S. Perhaps you entered as a student on an F1 visa and got married to a U.S. citizen. In the process, you might have changed your name. Or perhaps you just wanted to change your legal name.

Whatever the case may be, your current name will differ from your initial immigration documents. The USCIS would like proof of how and when your name changed. The following documents will help to explain that:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court-issued documents that legally changed your name

Your life will determine which of the above-mentioned documents you own. You may only have one of them depending on how your life played out.

Selective Service Documents

Most males between the ages of 18 and 26 must take part in the Selective Service registration. The law commands a man who turns 18 to register within 30 days. Selective Service does accept late registrations but only until a man reaches his 26th birthday. You can do more research to see whether you are included in the group of those who are eligible for Selective Service. You must include these papers in your application if you are a man and you have Selective Service registration papers.

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