How much does it cost to become a US citizen?
When you are ready to submit Form N-400, the application for naturalization, you will have to pay a total of $680 in application fees. This includes a $595 general application fee and an $85 biometrics fee. The biometrics appointment is a separate time that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) schedules with you to take your fingerprints.
Is there a fee waiver?
Yes. People who make below 150% of the federal poverty line, who have a financial hardship such as unexpected medical bills or emergencies, or who receive means-tested benefits or whose spouse or head of household receives means-tested benefits, can apply for a fee waiver with USCIS.
A means-tested benefit means that the person is receiving some kind of government benefit such as food stamps, Medicaid, or Social Security. The fee waiver application is Form I-912, which you can access from the USCIS website. Read our guide on naturalization application fee waivers to learn more.
How can a lawyer save me money on the application process?
Although you can apply for US citizenship without a lawyer, hiring one may end up saving you money in the long run. The $680 application fee is not refundable. That means if USCIS denies your application, you will not receive that money back. An immigration lawyer can help to ensure everything is filed correctly so that no time or money is lost in the process.
What can a lawyer do to ensure my application is not denied?
While a lawyer cannot guarantee the approval of your application, a lawyer who is experienced in naturalization can review your case to make sure you are eligible, check that your form is filled out correctly, and help you prepare for the interview—3 things that will increase your chances of approval.
1. Determine if you are eligible for naturalization. There are extensive requirements for naturalization, some of which depend on how you received permanent residence. For example, if you have a green card through marriage, you may be eligible to naturalize after 3 years of permanent residency. In contrast, if you have a family-based green card, you are not eligible until you have have been a permanent resident for 5 years. There are other eligibility requirements that you must meet in order to be granted US citizenship, so an attorney can review the requirements with you so that you do not waste money on an application that will ultimately be denied.
2. Review your application. The N-400 is about 20 pages long and asks a lot of detailed, personal questions that must be answered very specifically. A lawyer can help you answer the questions correctly, and advise you as to the appropriate supporting documents to include with your application.
3. Coach you through the citizenship interview process. Although this interview tends to be less stressful than a green card application interview, having someone to answer your questions about the process may ease your nerves. It may also increase the likelihood that you only have to go through the process one time.