Nolo doesn't usually post updates whenever USCIS revises an immigration application form -- which it does regularly, and the changes are usually relatively minor. The new Form N-400, however, is significantly different than the old form, not to mention longer -- it's a whopping 21 pages long.
Some of the notable features of the new form include:
- a section asking about the citizenship status of your parents, which may help discover whether you are actually a U.S. citizen already, through acquisition or derivation of their status
- a place to mention that you are requesting a waiver of the English-language requirement based on age (yay! Bringing USCIS's attention to this fact used to require writing a cover letter and writing in big red letters on the front of the N-400 "55/15" or whatever combination of age and residency time in the U.S. was appropriate to request this waiver)
- combining the questions on work and education for the past five years, so that it will be easier to establish a chronology or timelines between study and holding a job
- far more extensive questions about crimes, terrorism, and other possible bars to naturalization -- for example, instead of just asking whether you have "persecuted" someone, it asks whether you have been involved in genocide, torture, killing, hurting, or forcing sexual relations upon anyone, or interfering with someone's practice of religion
- new barcoding allowing electronic entry of your information, which USCIS says will reduce errors.
The most important thing to understand about this new form is that it does not reflect or change any of the underlying eligibility criteria for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. It is simply meant to make it easier for applicants to enter the appropriate information and for USCIS to interpret it.
See the government's announcement, "USCIS Revises Form N-400, Application for Naturalization" for details.
Effective date: February 05, 2014