How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship after sending your application to USCIS? What are the actual steps involved in applying for citizenship?

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship after sending your application to USCIS? What are the actual steps involved in applying for citizenship?

Keep on watching to find out more.


How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship these days?

The current processing time from start to finish to obtain U.S. Citizenship is over 12 months. The process begins with the filing of the N-400 Application for Naturalization with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with all of the necessary supporting documentation and ends with the mailing of the Oath Ceremony notice that contains the date, time, and location where the applicant must appear for his or her naturalization ceremony, following approval of the application at the in-person interview which takes place at a USCIS field office.

Why the delays?

As our readers will know, the Coronavirus pandemic and ongoing USCIS backlogs have greatly increased the processing times for nearly all types of applications filed with the agency, and the N-400 Application for Naturalization is no exception. The lengthy processing time also largely depends on the number of applications being scheduled for interviews at your local USCIS office. Certain local offices are experiencing much higher workloads than others, which can result in longer processing times in comparison to field offices in smaller cities. Unfortunately, these backlogs are set to continue through at least 2023.

What are the steps to apply for U.S. Citizenship?

STEP ONE: Filing and preparing the Form N-400 Application for Naturalization

The first step involved in the naturalization process is filing and preparing Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization, and including all the necessary supporting documentation with the application. This form is taking about 1 year to be processed by USCIS.

TIP: If you are a self-filer, be sure to carefully read the N-400 form instructions and ensure that you have provided accurate responses and completed the form correctly. Failure to ensure the proper completion of the form can result in delays, or serious immigration consequences. In addition, self-filers must ensure that they have sent the appropriate filing fees and have mailed the application to the proper address.

STEP TWO: Attending the Biometrics Appointment

Approximately 4-5 months after filing the N-400 Application for Naturalization with USCIS, the applicant will receive a biometrics appointment notice in the mail with the date, time, and location where they must appear to capture their digital photograph and fingerprints. The biometrics are taken from the applicant to run the necessary security and background checks. In certain instances, the applicant may receive a telephone call informing them of the biometrics appointment.

TIP: Be sure to bring a government issued I.D. and the biometrics appointment notice with you. Do not miss your appointment date. If you miss your biometrics appointment, you run the risk of having your case denied and/or administratively closed.

STEP THREE: Taking the Civics Examination and Attending your Citizenship Interview

The third step involved in the citizenship process is taking the civics examination and attending the in-person citizenship interview. It takes approximately 4-5 months to receive your citizenship interview appointment in the mail after completing the biometrics.

The civics examination consists of two components. The first is demonstrating English proficiency – applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as determined by their ability to read, write, speak, and understand English. The second requirement is the civics examination – an oral examination requiring applicants to demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.

As part of the civics examination a USCIS Officer asks the applicant up to 10 of 100 possible civics questions. To successfully pass the examination applicants are required to answer 6 questions correctly out of the 10 questions. Applicants are also given three attempts to pass the examination.

Certain exceptions are made for applicants aged 65 years or older who have been living in the U.S. as legal permanent residents for 20 years or longer.

TIP: Be prepared to answer questions regarding your travel history for trips taken of 24 hours or more outside of the United States during the last 5 years preceding your application, as well as evidence that you have been filing your taxes on time, proof that you have been paying child support on time, etc. This will help ensure a successful application. If you have any issues relating to tax delinquency, criminal issues, child support delinquency issues, or have been outside of the United States for a long period of time, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney BEFORE filing your application for naturalization.

Additionally, it is important for applicants to be truthful during their interview. If the interviewing officer catches you lying, it may be a basis to deny your citizenship application based on lack of good moral character.

STEP FOUR: The Decision

At the in-person naturalization interview, the applicant will either be approved, denied, or the officer will ask for additional evidence before they can make a final decision on the application. The decision will hinge on whether the applicant has demonstrated their eligibility for naturalization, including the establishment of their good moral character, and finally passage of the civics examination.

If your case is denied, you will have the option to file an appeal on Form N-336 within 30 days to make your case regarding your eligibility for citizenship. If you are approved following your successful approval you will receive a telephone call or notice in the mail scheduling your Oath Ceremony.

STEP FIVE: The Oath Ceremony

If all goes well and the applicant successfully passes the civics examination and in-person interview, he or she will receive an oath ceremony notice in the mail with the date, time, and location where they must appear to take the oath of U.S. allegiance and officially receive their certificate of naturalization. The Oath Ceremony is usually scheduled within 30 days of passing the civics examination.

In some jurisdictions, due to the severe backlogs caused by the pandemic, the applicant will not receive a separate oath ceremony, and will instead be allowed to take the oath of allegiance directly after approval at their interview.


We hope that this video helped you learn more about the process involved in filing for naturalization. If you found it helpful please share with anyone who may benefit.

Ready to file your naturalization application? We are just a phone call away. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your eligibility to apply for naturalization.

Contact us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

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