Applying for citizenship to the United States, for those who meet the requirements, consists of gathering evidence, filing the required applications, go to a biometrics appointment, taking the English and Civics test, and finally attend the Naturalization ceremony.
There are many options available for individuals who need help to complete the immigration forms required for applying for citizenship. Financial aid is also available for those who meet specific income requirements.
Here we will outline the eligibility requirements, the USCIS fees, the cost of retaining an immigration attorney, and various online visa preparation services available to help you apply for U.S. citizenship.
What are the Eligibility Requirements for U.S. Citizenship?
A permanent resident must wait 3 to 5 years to apply for citizenship, depending on how they became a permanent resident.
For someone who is not the spouse of a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen, the requirements are as follows:
- Must be a permanent resident for five years
- Must be 18 years or older
- Must live in the state in which they are filing for three months or longer
- Must be physically present in the United States 30 months out of the five years.
For the spouse of a permanent resident or U.S. citizens:
- Must be a permanent resident for three years
- Must be residing with their spouse.
- Must be 18 years or older
- Must live in the state in which they are applying for three months or longer
- Must be physically present in the United States for 18 months out of the three years.
Additionally, all applicants must be able to read, write, and speak English, and they must have a basic knowledge of the U.S. government. They must show good moral character and be someone who is attached to the morals of the U.S. Constitution.
For more information about the eligibility requirements for U.S. citizenship, you can visit the USCIS website here.
Government Fees to Apply for U.S. Naturalization
The government fee for applying for Naturalization (Form N-400) is $640 plus a biometrics fee, which is $85. This is a total of $725. There are no fees for military members and veterans.
There is a fee waiver available for those who cannot afford the costs of applying for U.S. citizenship. Form I-912 is the request for a fee waiver. There is no charge when filing for a fee waiver. To be eligible for consideration of a fee waiver, the applicant must be 150%-200% below the poverty line.
The fee waiver is free to apply for, and it may be worth doing if finances are something preventing you or your loved one from going through the naturalization process.
Changes in Naturalization Fees in 2020
It is important to note that there will be some changes in fees this year.
The Trump administration has decided that fees will rise in 2020. The N-400 will be raised to $1,170. Additionally, the administration is seeking to eliminate fee waivers. This may be an obstacle for many people interested in applying for Naturalization. Many people who are permanent residents and those interested in citizenship are on the lower-income scale. It is essential to consult a licensed immigration attorney to figure out what the best option is for you and how to act with the current changes happening in our immigration system.
Fees for preparing and submitting your U.S. Naturalization application
There are a few services available online that assist applicants with registering their trademark with the USPTO; we will discuss a few of them below.
Boundless is an online visa preparation service that helps you fill out and submit green card applications and naturalization applications. Boundless assigns you a remote attorney to help you answer basic immigration questions and review your citizenship application. Individuals must take a short eligibility test to determine whether they are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. Boundless has a flat-fee for applying for citizenship, $395 plus the government fees.
RapidVisa is an online visa preparation service. When you use their services to apply for U.S. citizenship, you will not be working face to face with an attorney, and much of the evidence collecting and the filing would be up to you. Their Naturalization application service costs between $200-300, plus the government fees. The website has valuable information with a clear timeline of the process and a breakdown of the expenses.
Prices for attorneys range vary, and it all can be dependent on what kind of help your specific case will need. Hiring an immigration attorney for assistance with your naturalization case can cost from $1,000-2,000. For these cases, attorneys typically charge a flat fee. Consulting an attorney can cost anywhere from free to $150. Attorneys may charge more or less dependent on the facts of your case and how much evidence you will require.
Hiring an attorney may be very beneficial for your case. Navigating the immigration system alone can be very complicated. There is specific evidence required that may be easier to obtain with the help of an immigration attorney. Even if getting an attorney is not feasible for you at this moment, it may be worth it to schedule a consultation.
File on your own
Some people choose to pay the government fees and file on their own. There is plenty of material available only and innumerable websites with free resources to help you become a U.S. citizen. Most of the difficult work needed to fill out the immigration forms consists of gathering biographical information, and this is something that an immigration attorney probably won’t be able to help you with. Others prefer to hire an attorney to take the pressure off of themselves. Whether you choose to hire an attorney, use an online service, or file on your own, you will still have costs associated with your case. Even if you were to get a fee waiver, you would still need to gather evidence.