Naturalization, or the process of becoming a U.S. citizen takes anywhere from 5-8 months or longer depending on your situation. This is administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
We suggest you get help with this process from a qualified non-profit agency or immigration attorney, or by attending a free citizenship workshop. You can also complete the application yourself using CitizenshipWorks.
From Start to Finish
1. Find out if you are eligible
Find out if you are eligible to apply for citizenship by taking a simple screening test online provided by our trusted partner, CitizenshipWorks, or by reviewing these basic criteria.
You should consult an immigration attorney or qualified non-profit agency if you answer yes to any of these questions.
If you think you will need an interpreter with you at your interview, learn more about exceptions and accommodations.
2. Gather supporting documents
To complete the citizenship application Form N-400 accurately, you will need to gather all your supporting documents before you begin the application. All applicants are required to include the following 2 documents:
- A photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
- A check or money order for the application fee and the biometrics services fee for fingerprinting
You may need to provide other documents as well. Go to “What documents do I need?” to see what else you need to submit.
3. Complete application form
If you’re ready to get started, CitizenshipWorks is an online tool that can help you through the application process from start to finish. It is easy to use and begins with an eligibility screening to see if you qualify.
If you want to fill out a paper N-400 form, you can find a local organization to help with the process.
4. Submit application form and pay fee
You must submit your application via mail. Use U.S. Postal Service certified mail and be sure to keep your tracking number to confirm delivery. The USCIS site has information on where to file your N-400 form.
Before you mail in your application, be sure to make a copy to review to prepare for your interview.
You can pay the application fee by check, money order, or credit card. Total application fees are $725:
- $640 filing fee
- $85 biometric fee
If you are low income or need assistance with paying the application fees, there are some options available here.
5. Study for interview
We recommend you begin preparing for your interview as soon as you submit your application. Review the study materials carefully – you might need to take classes to prepare for the U.S. civics test or to improve your English.
6. Receipt notice and biometrics
(3-8 weeks after filing)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send you a receipt notice that confirms that they received your application. You can use this confirmation number to check your status.
Additionally, USCIS needs your fingerprints to do a security clearance and criminal background check before they schedule an interview. You will receive a Biometrics Appointment notice that will include the date, time, location, and what you need to bring. This is generally a short appointment (15-30 minutes) so that USCIS can collect your fingerprints, photograph, and signature.
7. Citizenship interview
(variable, can be 3-15 months after filing)
Once your background check has been processed, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will send another appointment notice for your citizenship interview.
The USCIS officer interviewing you will assess your ability to speak, read and write English, and your knowledge of U.S. history and civics. They will also verify that what you said on the application is correct.
After your interview, the USCIS officer will approve, deny, or look further into your citizenship application.
It is very important that you attend the interview time scheduled for you. Rescheduling an interview may delay the process by several months.
8. The Oath of Allegiance ceremony
(1-4 weeks or more after interview)
After a successful citizenship interview, you will receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance. In Seattle-King County, you may have an option to participate in the oath ceremony on the same day as the interview.
The oath is administered by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony. After taking the Oath of Allegiance, you will turn in your Green Card and receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
NOTE: You can check your case status online with your receipt number.
Still have questions? Check out these helpful resources below.
How to Become a Citizen (CitizenshipWorks)
Applying for Naturalization (WashingtonLawHelp)
When to Seek Legal Advice (PDF)