U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now allows U.S. permanent residents to apply for citizenship (naturalization) online. USCIS still accepts the paper version of Form N-400 by mail. The online option may, however, be simpler for many applicants.
The first step to applying for naturalization online is to create an account with USCIS. You will need an email address, which will serve as your username. You then will create a password. Each time you log in to your account, USCIS will send you a secondary password via either email or a text message to your mobile phone. You will need this password in order to access your account.
Once logged in, you simply follow the prompts to prepare the N-400 application, by completing various sections that capture the same information requested on the N-400 paper form.
The information includes your basis of eligibility (for instance, permanent resident for five years unless you qualify for an exception), biographic data, addresses, family, and moral character. The system will store your information for 30 days. If you do not access and edit your application within 30 days, you will need to start over.
When you have entered all the required information, you will reach a screen that instructs you as to which documents you need to upload into your online account. This will require you to have access to digital scanning technology.
You also will have the option of uploading any additional documents that you believe will support your application. If you prefer, you also may take the additional documents to your naturalization interview.
The next step is to submit your payment for the filing fee through your online account. The accepted methods of payment are credit card, debit card, and bank transfer from a checking account. If you are requesting a waiver of the N-400 filing fee, you will need to submit a paper application by mail.
Submitting your application online will likely get you in the queue a few days faster than if you were to submit a paper version of the application by mail. You also will be able to monitor the status of your filing fee payment, to see when USCIS has processed your payment and officially started work on your application.
And, if USCIS needs more documents or information, you will be able to submit your response through your online account. Finally, you will be able to update your address and other contact information through your online account.
Online filing presents a useful option for anyone with an email account and access to a computer. But for those who are not yet ready, submitting the application by mail remains an option.
Effective Date: January 5, 2018