Have you ever wondered how much does it cost to be a US citizen? What is the procedure(s), what is eligibility, how long will it take to become a citizen, etc.? Becoming a US citizen isn’t just a long, time-consuming process, but it is also heavy on the pocket. It takes years to become a Permanent Resident, and you’ll find yourself paying a lot of fees for all the applications that you are sending to the USCIS in addition to other fees such as medical fees, legal fees, etc.
With this article, you can find out the different ways through which you can apply for citizenship, and you will also find out how much does it cost to become a US citizen.
- 1 How Much Does It Cost to Become a US Citizen
- 1.1 Methods to Become a US Citizen
- 1.2 How Much Does It Cost to Become a US Citizen and What Is the Naturalization Process?
- 1.2.1 Step 1: Make Sure That You Are Eligible to Apply
- 1.2.2 Step 2: Complete the Form N-400
- 1.2.3 Step 3: Get the Right Passport Size Photographs
- 1.2.4 Step 4: Get the Photocopy of All the Documents
- 1.2.5 Step 5: Make the Payment and Submit the Documents
- 1.2.6 Step 6: Give the Biometric(Fingerprinting)
- 1.2.7 Step 7: The Interview Process
- 1.2.8 Step 8: The Civics and English Test
- 1.2.9 Step 9: Decision Making
- 1.2.10 Step 10: Taking an Oath
- 1.3 Certain Things to Consider Before Becoming a US Citizen
- 1.4 Benefits of Becoming a US Citizen
- 1.5 Eligibility Requirements to Become a US Citizen
- 1.6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Dual Citizenship
- 1.7 Conclusion
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
How Much Does It Cost to Become a US Citizen
The procedure to switch to a whole new nationality is very stressful and tiring. There are so many factors that you need to keep a count of while applying for the United States immigration status. So, how much does it cost to become a US citizen? The answer is not definite as there are multiple ways to become a US citizen and each process might involve an extra fee apart from the regular citizenship fee. Additionally, each case is different from others, so you might end up paying higher than the regular amount.
Methods to Become a US Citizen
The most common method through which you can become a United States citizen is through Naturalization but there are other ways as well. You can get US citizenship through the following ways:
Citizenship Through Naturalization
To gain citizenship through Naturalization, you need to have a PR status, i.e., a green card. On the off chance that there is a green card, you can apply for naturalization in no time. However, to be eligible to have a green card, you must qualify certain eligibility criteria such as:
- If you have a US citizen who’s currently living in the States, then they can sponsor you for a green card. Immediate relatives of a US citizen can apply for a green card and the processing time does not take long when compared to extended family.
- A person having a permanent job offer in the United States is also eligible to get a green card. Their employers can file for a green card on their behalf
- You can apply for a green card if you have the immigration status of a refugee/asylee. Such person can apply for a green card if thy are living in the United States for over a year
Citizenship Through Marriage
If a person is married to a US citizen or a Green Card holder, one can apply for a green card by filing a Petition for Alien Relative. Once the application is processed, you need to give an interview at the USCIS office or any US Embassy in the home country to qualify for the Green Card.
- If you are currently living in the US with your citizen spouse, then the application processing is called Adjustment of Status. In this process, you can adjust your status by submitting the petition form and the adjustment of status form.
- If the spouse is living in outside the USA, then the application process is called Consular processing. In this process, the beneficiary has to wait in their home country until they get a valid visa to travel to the United States.
Citizenship Through Parents
You can gain the benefits of becoming a US citizen if you fall in the following categories:
- If both your parents are US citizens and are married, then you can apply for US citizenship even if you were born abroad. At least one of your parents must have lived in the US prior to your birth
- If only one parent is a US citizen, then the child qualifies for a US citizenship if both the parents were married. The citizen parent must have lived in the country for 5 years prior to the birth of the child.
- If the parents are unmarried, the child can still become a citizen if the child’s mother was a US citizen during the child’s birth. The mother should have lived in the States for about a year. The biological father must also be a US citizen at the time of the child’s birth
- Citizenship can also be gained through adoption if certain eligibility criteria is met
- The child can apply for citizenship if they were born on the US territories, but their parents must not be of any Native American Tribe
Citizenship Through Military
If you were a member of the armed forces, then you can apply for citizenship if you satisfy some personal requirements like knowing US history, the ability to read/write and understand English, you must be 18 old, and have a good moral character.
How Much Does It Cost to Become a US Citizen and What Is the Naturalization Process?
Becoming a US citizen sounds great, but to reach that point, you have to go through numerous applications and verification along with paying the neutralization fee. Below is a sequence of steps that everyone needs to go through if they are willing to become a US citizen.
Step 1: Make Sure That You Are Eligible to Apply
The first step towards naturalization is to figure out if one is eligible to apply. In this process, one should check if they satisfy the eligibility criteria that is mentioned on the USCIS website. As there are many steps towards becoming a citizen through naturalization, check which conditions apply to one’s situation. Please check the detailed eligibility criteria given through this link. If you satisfy any of the conditions mentioned on the USCIS website, then you can follow the next steps to become a naturalized citizen.
In some cases, you might not satisfy the eligibility criteria which makes it difficult to apply for Naturalization. In such situations, you can get help from an immigration attorney or any non-profit organization to help you figure out what to do.
Step 2: Complete the Form N-400
Once you have all the requirements, it’s time to start filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This form is provided by the USCIS services which is the next step towards gaining citizenship through Naturalization. You can find the latest form on the USCIS website. Make sure that you download and fill the form from the USCIS website only and not from any other website. If you do not submit the latest version of the form, your application might be rejected.
In this form, you have to provide your personal and professional details along with some other basic information. Fill in all the spaces accurately, as incomplete forms are often rejected. The citizenship application fee, i.e., the N-400 fee is $640. You can take help from your immigration attorney for filing this form.
Step 3: Get the Right Passport Size Photographs
The right passport-size photographs should be submitted along with the N-400 application form. You should submit 2 photographs which should be recently taken within a week or 30 days before sending the application. Remember that the photograph must match the current facial features. There shouldn’t be any covering on your head(except for religious reasons).
The dimensions of the photograph must be 2×2 inches or 5×5 cm. The images must be colored with a white background.
Step 4: Get the Photocopy of All the Documents
Submit any supporting documents along with the original application form. So get the photocopies of all the supporting documents. One needs to submit these documents through mail and there’s a minor risk of misplacing the documents if one sends the originals. Remember to not submit the original documents unless one is asked to for verification purposes.
Some of the primary documents that are required to be submitted are the photocopies of the green card, the passport, birth certificates, state IDs, etc. Additionally, if you are sending any document in a foreign language then you should also attach the correct translated version of the same document.
Step 5: Make the Payment and Submit the Documents
After all the documents and the application are ready, it’s time to submit them through the mail. Select any faster mailing service and send the documents. Depending on the type of your case, there are different mailing addresses to submit the mail to.
How much does it cost to become a US citizen? The US citizenship cost is $725 which includes the biometric fee of $85 and the citizenship application fee of $640. This fee should only be paid through money order or check. USCIS strictly prohibits cash payments. One can purchase the money order from any local US post office.
Step 6: Give the Biometric(Fingerprinting)
USCIS will take a lot of time to process your application before it is viable for the process. During the processing, your documents are carefully verified. USCIS might also ask you to provide additional documents for verification. Once all the processing is done and the documents are verified, you will be asked to give a fingerprint.
Biometric fingerprinting is used to identify if anyone has a major criminal background. The US law enforcement agencies use biometric fingerprinting for a background check. If you have a minor criminal record, then the case might take some time to be processed, but eventually, it will pass. For a major criminal record, then there are high chances of one’s application getting rejected.
As you already paid the fee for biometrics along with the N-400 fee, you do not have to do any other payments. Carry the original documents to the USCIS office for fingerprinting.
Step 7: The Interview Process
This step is followed right after the biometric process. One will receive the date, time, and venue details in advance, and applicants need to arrive at the said location at least an hour or 30 minutes before the appointment time. During the interview, they might e asked questions related to one’s personal or professional life. Some interviews cross-check the answers on the form by asking them verbally. So make sure you have a good look at the application form. Furthermore, spend some time reading about US law and policies as one might be asked about it.
Step 8: The Civics and English Test
In this step, you will be asked to take an English and a Civics test to test your abilities. In the English test, the officials check your ability to read, write, speak and understand the English language. The English test does not have a direct influence on the Naturalization application.
Then comes the Civics test which is rather important. In this test, you are asked to read about the rules, laws, policies, and regulations of the US. It is advised to thoroughly prepare for this test beforehand.
Step 9: Decision Making
Once the interview is completed, the decision-making will be done by the interviewer based on the application form, the biometric record, and the interview answers that you have given. USCIS may come up with any of the following three decisions:
- Your application will be accepted, and your citizenship will be granted
- The application is rejected, and you should leave the country whenever your visa is expired
- USCIS may ask you to continue the case and ask for further documents for verification
Step 10: Taking an Oath
If the application is accepted by the USCIS, you will be asked to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. After the Oath ceremony, you will be given your Certificate of Naturalization.
Certain Things to Consider Before Becoming a US Citizen
A US citizen has certain responsibilities to their country. Before applying for naturalization, you need to be aware of these responsibilities towards your country. Here are some of the important things that you need to consider before becoming a US citizen:
There aren’t many countries that have dual citizenship. Based on the country, one might need to give the nationality once they choose to become an American citizen. Although the US allows dual citizenship, you should also take a look at the policies of the home country before you decide to go for US citizenship.
Filing for Tax Returns
Every US citizen must file for income tax returns irrespective of where they are living abroad. Any income that exceeds $100,000 will be taxed.
If you have a major criminal record, you can’t apply for Naturalization. Major crimes such as immigration frauds, abuse, drugs, etc., can be a huge problem if you do not consult an attorney before applying for Naturalization.
Benefits of Becoming a US Citizen
Once you have acquired your green card, you are very close to applying for Naturalization. Once you become a citizen through this process, you can enjoy the following benefits which do not apply to a green cardholder.
- After becoming a citizen through naturalization, you cannot be deported to your former country. Even if you commit a crime, you still have the benefit of staying in America.
- The US passport is one of the most powerful passports which you can apply for once you are a naturalized citizen. With this passport, you can travel to almost 180 destinations(and more) for as long as you want without a visa
- A naturalized citizen has all the major benefits of a US citizen such as financial aid, right to vote, etc.
- You can act as a sponsor for your close relatives
- Even if your child is born abroad, you can report their birth to any US Embassy for them to become citizens
- A naturalized citizen does not have to deal with application fling for travelling or any other paperwork for citizenship renewal
- If needed, you can send application to apply for a government job which is mostly reserved for the citizens of the United States only
Eligibility Requirements to Become a US Citizen
Turning into a United States citizen brings forth many challenges during the application process and many responsibilities after you’ve become a naturalized citizen. There are 4 ways through which you can become a US citizen and each process has separate eligibility criteria. The general eligibility criteria are mentioned below:
- The person must be at least 18 years old during the application process
- Have a green card for at least 5 years
- Have your presence in the United States for at east 30 months in the last 5 years before you submit the application
- A moral character is necessary
- Be able to write, speak and understand English language
- Have an idea of the US law and politics
Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Dual Citizenship
Dual citizenship refers to having the citizenship of both countries at once. Every nation has different laws for dual citizenship. Most of them such as Canada or America permit dual citizenship, but many other nations do not. If a child is born in America to foreign parents, then they automatically receive dual citizenship unless the parents are of the Native American Tribe.
Some of the most common privileges that you can enjoy as a dual citizen are:
- Having Two Passports: As a dual citizen, you get to have two passports. You can freely travel in between the said countries without having to apply for visa. You can travel for as long as you want without being questioned.
- Property Owned: As a citizen, you can own properties in both the countries. Some countries only offer properties to citizens. You can have the advantage of living in both the countries whenever necessary.
- Education and Culture: The dual citizens have the advantage of enjoying the cultural and educational benefits of both the places.
Dual citizenship can also lead to a few disadvantages such as :
- Expensive and Complicated Process: In some instances, you have to separately apply for a dual citizenship whereas sometimes it can happen automatically. Applying for a dual citizenship can be a long, complicated and expensive process.
- Obliged to Laws of Both Countries: As a dual citizen, you must oblige to the rules and laws of both the countries. Any failure in doing so would result in a great deal of loss to your status.
- Taxation: The biggest disadvantage of dual citizenship is the fact that you need to apply for taxation of both the countries.
In this article, i.e., how much does it cost to become a US citizen, you have all the basic requirements, the eligibility criteria, and the points towards turning into a citizen through naturalization. Although the cost of becoming a citizen through naturalization is $725, the total amount that you end up paying can fluctuate. This happens if there are any further application forms involved or any extra processes.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
The cost of becoming a citizen through naturalization is $725, i.e., $640 for the application fee and $85 for the biometrics.
The United States does approve dual citizenship, and so do many other countries. Many countries do not allow dual citizenship, so make sure to check the laws and rules of the foreign country.
You have to fill Form N-400 to apply for Naturalization.